During an interview with NBR ONLINE Friday, Dotcom was frank about the challenges facing his Mega re-boot.
Surely many people will balk at the prospect of using as service backed by the accused pirate, even if they supported him, and fear there was a clear and present danger of losing their files all over again as legal action against Megaupload continues?
“It’s going to be an issue. There will be users who chose not to work with us because of that. And that is unfortunate.
“But I think that will also be a lot of users who just want to try this new service and see how good it is. And once they realise there is really no alternative to this service right now in terms of safety and privacy, I think there will be a lot of users who will use this.
“And over time, you know, when the service is live for a few months, and people see these guys are still here, I think the trust will grow.”
The new service will have a distributed hosting setup, and any file will be stored in at least two locations (and once things get rolling, at least two different countries outside the US). By Dotcom’s account, this setup will guarantee seamless service if a technical glitch hits, or authorities is a particular country target a Mega host.
Mega will launch with one host, but Dotcom said there had been more than 1000 applications from companies big and small wanting to be hosts, and more would be added after launch (successful candidates will get paid E500 per month per server; each server needing to supply 24 hard drives with 72 terabytes of storage, and one gigabit of bandwidth, among other requirements).
Further Mega’s one-click encryption was user-friendly, and guaranteed no one but an uploader could control who viewed a file.
Encryption asking for trouble?
But wouldn’t the feature draw heat from prosecutors, and copyright holders? After all, encryption means Mega will be like the Swiss bank of online storage services; users could easily use the technology to hide, say, pirated movies or child porn.
Dotcom’s US attorney, Ira Rothken, who is in Auckland for the launch and who sat in on the interview, responded that many technologies were dual use, but on balance provided more public good. He cited technologies from the VCR to cloud computing as a whole to back his case.
Further, Rothken also notes that Bush-era Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Richard Falkenrath wrote that encryption was a desirable feature for cloud computing services for security and user confidence, and even when as far as chastising those who did not use client-side encryption.
And Dotcom weighed in that although they don't have a one-click encryption option built into their interface, the likes of Google Drive allow you to upload encrypted, password-protected files.
Dotcom added that Mega was what he called "the most legally scrutinised business plan in start-up history."
More than 20 lawyers were now on his legal team, the entrepreneur said (and as if to underline the point, a newcomer to the team, Lowndes Jordan partner Rick Shera, arrived at Dotcom Mansion part-way through NBR's interview. The legal crew also includes the San Francisco-based Ira Rothken, various Simpson Grierson partners, Paul Davison QC and criminal barrister Guyon Foley).
Rothken said he had submitted a document describing the Mega business to the Crown last month. No counter submission had been made.
Dotcom said he was certain record labels and Hollywood would "heckle" Mega going by their "past aggression ... they can't help themselves" (and there was certainly a foretaste of possible trouble to come this week as Mediaworks pulled ads for Mega from its stations; an insider said the move followed pressure from music and movie advertisers).
But he considers the business fully vetted, and Rothken and co. are locked and loaded to spring into action.
Assuming it survives through its launch, Mega will add new features, from mobile support to user-to-user messaging to integrated calendaring, word processing and spreadsheet applications.
A Megabox/Megakey content service will follow in around six months.
Megabox will offer music artists (or artists plus their label) a cut of profits. The companion Megakey service will sell songs in the manner of iTunes, plus offer people the option to get free content if they accept a browser plug-in, then earn points by viewing ads. Dotcom said while Megakey would replace ads, it would only replace ads served by the largest sites.
FLASHBACK: Kim Dotcom in the dock with (L-R) co-accused Bram van der Kolk, Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmannn after their January 20, 2012 arrest on copyright infringement, money laundering, racketeering and other charges associated with Megaupload and its alleged $US175 million in illegal profits and divereted $500 million revenue from content providers. In part because of procedural and legal blunders by the DOJ, FBI, GCSB and NZ Police, the case to extradite the four to the US has seen a series of delays; the latest has pushed it back to August this year at the earliest.