Poor old Kim Dotcom has only just kicked open the doors to his new cloud storage service Mega, but less than two weeks in he could well be facing his first legal tangles with the emergence of a new “collaborative” search engine that allows users to search and share files hosted on the site.
Called Mega-Search.me, the search engine appears to have gone online the same day as Mega itself launched, evidence enough that someone has been planning this for a while. The site came to the attention of Ars Technica just yesterday, which reports that it allows Mega’s one million-plus users to share links to the files they have stored on the site, along with the all-important decryption keys necessary to access those files. These links can be searched and accessed by anyone, with users also being allowed to give feedback and vote on their favorite files.
Mega-Search.me wouldn’t be so much of a problem if it wasn’t for the fact that a huge majority of the files it links to seem to be illegally pirated copies of movies, TV shows, songs and software – and of course, the ever-present deluge of porn. We should note that Mega-Search.me does display an “infringement” button that links to Mega’s policy, but it’s doubtful that many users have heeded it.
The site’s existence puts Kim Dotcom in an awkward position, as he’s been promoting Mega as some kind of rival to more ‘acceptable’ storage services like Dropbox, with the added benefit of rock solid security that’s supposed to be so incredibly secure that even Mega doesn’t know what’s in the files its hosting. By operating in this way, Mega is able to protect itself from claims it facilitates piracy through a defense of plausible denial, although whether or not this will work remains to be seen.
We’re pretty sure that Kim Dotcom has nothing to do with Mega-Search.me, which is apparently hosted in France, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t cause him trouble. For one thing, it’s proven beyond doubt that Mega is being used to host illegal files, and now that it knows about this it certainly has a duty to remove them. In some cases, it appears to have already done so, with Ars Technica reporting that several files were “no longer available” a few hours after they downloaded them. Even so, it will have a job on its hands to keep up, given that the search engine already lists more than seven thousands files.
What will be interesting is how the big man himself responds to the existence of Mega-Search.me. So far, it looks as if the controversial entrepreneur is trying to stay legit. Just yesterday Dotcom announced that his team has complied with a number of copyright infringement warnings and taken down illegal files, but up until now he has been unusually quiet on the subject of Mega-Search.me. In the meantime, we’ll be watching Dotcom’s Twitter account for a reaction.