What Dotcom's Mega offers its users

MICHAEL FOREMAN AND SARAH PUTT
Last updated 10:51 22/01/2013
Mega
NEW STRATEGY: Kim Dotcom says his lawyers have scrutinised the new Mega service in great detail.

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Controversial internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom is already claiming over a million people have registered for his re-launched file- sharing business, Mega. We run the rule over just what it offers users.

Why would the average user want to use the Mega service?

The Mega service is what is known as a cyberlocker - that means you can upload data to the site and it can be downloaded from any computer or mobile device connected to the internet. Another well known cyberlocker site is Dropbox.

What are the benefits?

Not only does it enable you to access data from any computer, anywhere in the world, overcoming the file size limits that are still prevalent on many email systems, it is also an excellent way to back up data. For example - you have some photos of your holiday that you've taken on a digital camera.

You will have stored those on your PC - but what if the PC is lost or damaged? If you have uploaded your photos to a cyberlocker like Mega or Dropbox you can then download them.

With the Mega site you get 50GB of storage for free and paid plans start at $19.50 for 500GB storage.

What is "the cloud"?

The term "the cloud" was originally just another word for the internet, but it has come to mean using the internet to access resources such as storage space on computers that may be located a long distance away. The point is that you neither know, nor care where those files are physically stored as long as you can access them easily.

What is the difference between this site and Megaupload?

From the user perspective the advantage of Mega over Megaupload (its predecessor that was shut down by US authorities after the police raid a year ago on Dotcom's house) is that when you upload the data it is immediately encrypted. That means only you - or people you allow - know what the data is.

Mega says this is to protect users' privacy from the prying eyes of government etc, but it could also make it easier to upload copyright material because nobody but the user can see what's in the file - not even Mega itself.

How can users be sure that Mega won't suffer the same fate as Megaupload?

When asked at the Mega press launch why Mega was a safer business than Megaupload had been, Dotcom said the service has been "scrutinised by lawyers like no other internet start-up in history".

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"Every single pixel of this website has been checked for some kinds of issues. Our lawyers have made sure that we are fully compliant with the law," he said. "So I don't think that we need to worry about any kind of takedown anytime soon."

How popular is it in New Zealand?

On Sunday night Kim Dotcom said 500,000 users had registered on the Mega site and that it had one million visitors. There is no information as to how many of these are from New Zealand.

How user-friendly is it compared with other sites?

Registration is easy. It's a very clean, simple site. But uploading data is proving a lot more difficult because of overloading issues. The problem for Dotcom and the Mega team will be that internet users are very unforgiving. If they have a bad experience the first time, they tend not to go back. It's the downside to getting great publicity - you have to deliver.

What about copyright?

It is against the terms and conditions of the Mega service to store copyright infringing material, and according to Dotcom there will be a "take down" procedure for such files if they are reported.

However, if users do not allow anyone else access to their files, nobody will know whether a file infringes copyright or not.

What happened to users' data from Megaupload?

Their data was seized and they are fighting in the US courts to get it back. There were many legitimate users of Megaupload.

What will Mega do next?

The storage service is just the start. Yet to be launched is sister service Megabox.

That's designed for musicians to upload music and get royalties when their music is played on the website.

And also yet to be launched is the controversial Megakey that would allow Mega to serve up its own advertising on the web pages of third party websites, effectively redirecting the revenue from players such as Google.

Dotcom said Megakey would exclusively target large publishers such as Google and Yahoo.

But critics say this controversial application, that originally debuted on Megaupload in 2010, could breach copyright laws.

- The Dominion Post

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