Digital Legal MegaUpload Timeline

Mega moves to stop unlock code exchange

By | Published on Friday 1 February 2013


Well, we said that the all new Mega’s insistence that its auto-encryption system would reduce the chances of its file-storage platform becoming a hub for piracy would lose all credibility as soon as someone launched a parallel service trading links to copyright material stored on the digital firm’s servers, complete with the unlock key required to unencrypt files.

And this week, that very thing happened, in the form of, though it was a short-lived link/code exchange after Mega quickly blocked the search engine from monitoring its platform.

Mega’s predecessor MegaUpload became a massive hub for the unlicensed sharing of music and movie files, of course. Movie and music companies accused Mega’s management, led by founder Kim ‘Dotcom’ Schmitz, of deliberately turning a blind eye (and possibly contributing) to the piracy in a bid to maximise traffic and profits. And, as much previously reported, the US authorities shut MegaUpload down on those very grounds.

While denying the charges against them in the MegaUpload case, Dotcom and his lawyers reckon the all new Mega, launched last month, couldn’t be targeted with the same allegations as its predecessor, because of the auto-encryption system, which means any file uploaded to Mega can only be opened if someone has the accompanying unlock code. That encryption [a] makes it much harder for people to raid other people’s open Mega lockers for free music and movies and [b] means Mega management theoretically can’t know what content is stored on their servers (so can’t be held liable for what’s there).

The former claim only stands as long as unlock codes aren’t traded as readily as unlicensed content files stored on the Mega site, and that’s seemingly what did. Though Mega’s speedy (and apparently successful) attempts to stop from operating shows the file-transfer firm is ready and, perhaps more importantly, willing to try to stop such services from developing. Which could score Team Mega some brownie points when trying to convince judges in New Zealand and/or America that, while their business ventures may have aided piracy in the past, that’s never been their core intent.

Mega’s lawyers recently filed new papers with the courts in the US, again accusing the American government of misbehaving with regard to the MegaUpload shutdown and subsequent delays regards bringing its allegations to court. Team Mega want access to the frozen funds of the original MegaUpload business – if only to pay legal fees and cover the costs of restarting up the firm’s old servers, shut down by the US government a year ago, so to access evidence for the company’s defence, and maybe to reconnect old customers with any legitimate (ie non-pirated) content stored in their now inaccessible lockers.

The filing read: “More than a year has now passed since MegaUpload was branded a criminal, with no opportunity to date to clear its name or to challenge the charges against it. More than a year has passed since every penny of the company’s assets was frozen, yet there has been no pre- or post-seizure hearing for MegaUpload to contest the propriety of that action”.

“MegaUpload’s servers – which house the universe of relevant evidence against which the government’s allegations against MegaUpload might potentially be fully and fairly assessed one day – have been taken offline for lack of funding, gathering dust and in danger of deteriorating. And MegaUpload’s innocent consumers have been forced to go more than a year without any access to their property”.

“The government’s conduct of this case is … raising grave questions about whether the government is intent on being judge, jury, executioner, and asset collector without benefit of the adversarial process and protections. Certainly the prosecution to date … has denied MegaUpload any semblance of due process. MegaUpload asks this court to right that wrong”.