Kim Dotcom, the founder and ringleader of online locker service Megaupload, unveiled a new file-sharing site on Saturday, Mega.co.nz, and the Motion Picture Association of America already has issued an alert.
“We are still reviewing how this new project will operate, but we do know that Kim Dotcom has built his career and his fortune on stealing creative works,” the MPAA said in a statement. “We’ll reserve final judgment until we have a chance to take a closer look, but given Kim Dotcom’s history of damaging the consumer experience by pushing stolen, illegitimate content into the marketplace, count us as skeptical."
The MPAA's complaints that Dotcom's old Megaupload site was mainly used to fuel illegal movie file sharing prompted a raid on his home last year by New Zealand authorities, the FBI’s takedown of his old site and attempts to prosecute him by the U.S. Justice Dept.
Dotcom – a German whose real name is Kim Schmitz — unveiled the new site, portrayed as a cloud-based file-sharing service, in a press conference at his New Zealand mansion. It was held on the one-year anniversary of a raid that shut down Megaupload and led to Dotcom's indictment on criminal charges of fostering more than $500 million in the U.S. government’s biggest case pursuing illegal file sharing.
He has so far delayed U.S. attempts to extradite him, and New Zealand legal authorities have questioned the original raid’s legality.
The press conference featured a parody of last year’s raid –complete with helicopters and “agents” climbing down from the roof.
As he launched the new site, Dotcom, immediately thumbed his nose at the MPAA on Twitter
“Look at this @MPAA. Let’s talk,” he wrote in a Tweet, linking to a picture offering downloads of films and TV shows on the site’s MegaMovie.
The site quickly drew more than half a million registrations and immediately experienced heavy traffic.
Dotcom contended the new site’s switch to encryption technology that allows users to share files — but prevents Mega.com itself from seeing the contents of files being shared — sidesteps the legal issues that prompted the ongoing prosecution.
U.S. prosecutors a year ago charged that Dotcom and his associates knowingly allowed pirated movies and TV shows to be exchanged. Dotcom suggested that the encrypted technology would leave it to users to decide which files are exchanged.
When New Zealand police went to arrest Dotcom, they found him in a locked room in his mansion with a gun. Since February, he has been free on bail.
“This is not some kind of finger to the U.S. government or to Hollywood,” he said in an interview with Reuters. “This is innovative people who have been wronged taking the time to create something new.”
Also read: Megaupload Founder Kim Dotcom Freed on Bail
The U.S. government’s attack on Dotcom represents the biggest effort to take on intellectual property theft. It is being prosecuted by the Department of Justice’s Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section.
The government’s indictment said that although the sites involved with Megaupload advertised that they provided personal storage for users' content, they actually trafficked in hosting television shows and movies — often offering them to users before their official release.
"Members of the Mega Conspiracy are aware of the way that their sites are actually used by others; have themselves used the systems to upload, as well as reproduce and distribute, infringing copies of copyrighted content; and are aware that they have financially benefited directly from the infringement of copyrighted works that they are in a position to control," the indictment read.
Representatives from the Justice Department have not yet responded to calls for comment on Dotcom's new enterprise.