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January 21, 2013 3:39 am
Mega went live on Sunday – a year to the day after its predecessor was closed – following a lavish launch party at Mr Dotcom’s mansion in an Auckland suburb. It quickly signed up more than half a million users.
Saturday night’s launch party featured a re-enactment of last year’s raid by police on his mansion, while a local hip-hop star, who made headlines singing “F*** the Police” in a New Zealand nightclub two years ago, was the lead act.
The launch of Mega has been widely seen as an act of revenge by Mr Dotcom, who along with three colleagues is battling extradition to the US to face charges of internet piracy.
US prosecutors claim Megaupload generated more than US$175m in criminal proceeds from the exchange of pirated films, music and books.
Attempts to extradite Mr Dotcom to the US have been undermined by a series of missteps, including an admission from the New Zealand government that it illegally bugged Mr Dotcom, originally from Germany but now a New Zealand citizen.
A local judge also ruled that the warrants used by armed police to search Mr Dotcom’s mansion in a dawn raid a year ago had been overly broad and invalid. The extradition hearing, which had been scheduled to take place in March, has been put back until August.
Mr Dotcom maintains Mega is not an attempt to get one over the US authorities, telling reporters at the weekend that the new service was not “some kind of finger to the US government or to Hollywood” and could not suffer the same fate as Megaupload.
“Legally, there’s nothing there that could be used to shut us down; this site is just as legitimate and has the right to exist as Dropbox, Boxnet and other competitors in this space,” he said.
Unlike its predecessor, Mega allows subscribers to control who sees their files through the use of a sophisticated internet-based encryption system. This is important because it means Mega has no access to the files and can therefore claim it has no responsibility for distributing copyright protected content.
The site also addresses copyright in its terms and conditions, stating that users must not “store, use, download, upload or otherwise transmit, data in violation of any law (including to breach copyright or other intellectual property held by us or anyone else).”
The new site offers a free service, with 50 gigabytes of storage, and three subscription packages that range in price from €9.99 to €29.99 a month. The most expensive offers 4 terabytes of storage.
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