Looking to share some files with the general public? Whether those files are of the legal or illegal kind, a website has cropped up to index files on Kim Dotcom’s brand new cloud-storage site.Mega.co.nz, meet Mega-search.me.
When Kim Dotcom’s “Mega” site launched January 20, 2013—one year to the day after the FBI shut down his Megaupload file locker on accusations of copyright infringement and wire fraud—the ostentatious file-sharing guru promised 50GB of free, encrypted storage to users. In a pre-launch interview, Dotcom told Ars, “This startup is probably the most scrutinized by lawyers in the history of tech startups.” Hopefully that scrutiny will hold up, because Mega-search is revealing a few things copyright holders may not be too happy with.
This new site, Mega-search.me, offers users a way to post links to files with the decryption key in the URL. Clicking on the link takes you to Mega, where users can download the file to their computers or Mega accounts. The third-party service can’t automatically index links from Mega but instead relies entirely on users to crowdsource their goods. (Hat tip to Ars reader ghub005 for the heads-up.)
According to a quick WHOIS search, the domain was made at 11pm UTC on January 20, the same day Mega launched. The admin and registrant are listed as being located in Denver, CO, but the site’s Facebook page is written exclusively in French. The .me top level domain is the Internet country code for Montenegro. The website owners did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
When you arrive on Mega-search.me, you’re presented a list of files that have been added to the board by their owners. Scrolling down reveals a continuously refreshing page that shows more links below. A big box at the top lets you search for files, and a drop-down bar at the side lets you filter for videos, music, disc files, archives, and the like. Users anonymously vote files up and down, and the number of hits each file has appears in a column to the right of the file name.
Submit Of Mega
To submit a link, users supply the Mega link, a file name with its extension, and the size of the file. (Mega-search’s Facebook page says these last two fields will soon not be necessary to fill out.)
Clearly, not all of this content is infringement (there are plenty of links to personal files and public domain items, Italian-language Agatha Christie books for example). But a quick glance at the front page reveals many files that probably are. Files named “Weeds,” “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” and “Skrillex” are probably not kosher. But some of these links, when clicked, reveal a notice saying, “this file is no longer available.” (In the time it took to write this piece, a large number of links went from leading to a file to being “not found.”) Dotcom’s Mega is quite explicit in the “Terms of Service” that users may not “infringe anyone else’s intellectual property (including but not limited to copyright) or other rights in any material.” Mega-search.me does, in fact, have a prominent button in the top right-hand corner linking to Mega’s “notice of alleged infringement,” which permits users to submit a notice for takedown.
Reserve Of Mega
“We reserve the right to remove data alleged to be infringing without prior notice, at our sole discretion, and without liability to you.” Mega’s site writes. “In appropriate circumstances, we will also terminate your account if you are determined to be a repeat infringer.” In theory, Mega’s encryptioninvolves a decryption key the site administrators do not have access to, so it would be rather difficult to verify alleged infringement. But if you’re offering a link to your content with the decryption key in the URL, you’re more easily found out. Users linking infringing files publicly are still purportedly small—Kim Dotcom tweeted this evening that “#Mega is now hosting almost 50 million files. Only 0.001% have been taken down by content owners. MASSIVE non-infringing use!”
When Mega launched, Dotcom compared his new site to other cloud storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox, saying his is different in that it offers free encryption and replicates a user’s files across many servers, ideally in many countries. So if one overzealous law enforcement agency takes a server down, there’s a greater chance that user files won’t be lost.
Third-party sites that index otherwise law-abiding file lockers have occasionally caused problems for the host company. RapidShare, for example, was hounded by copyright holders (including adult entertainment site Perfect 10) for hosting copyrighted material. But in 2010 a German court found that because RapidShare does not allow users to search for publicly available content, it was not liable for how users controlled their access to the site. As Ars’ Nate Anderson reported, the court ruled “RapidShare cannot be held responsible for actions of third parties, since it [RapidShare] forces people to choose how their content should be distributed rather than making it automatically available to the public.” (Luckily, one of Mega’s main hosting operators is a subsidiary of Cogent, a company based in Germany.)
RapidShare later won a victory in a California-based court against Perfect 10, when a judge ruled the entertainment company could not prove that RapidShare induced users to download Perfect 10’s content.
Considering the limelight shining on Kim Dotcom after Megaupload’s takedown, it’s unclear whether Mega will continue in the wake of RapidShare’s victories. But according to Dotcom, the Mega business plan was vetted by more than 20 lawyers in the US and New Zealand, so copyright holders looking to gain an edge may have a difficult time taking down this new venture.[ Source :- Arstechnica ]