Music Pirate Kim Dotcom Schmitz Launches a (Tired) Second Act

File sharing kingpin hopes to evade authorities by using complex encryption scheme.

A year after being shut down for running Megaupload, an illegal music file sharing website, content pirate Kim Dotcom Schmitz (IP CloseUp, October 5) and IAM 56, “He’s No Robin Hood”) is back going live on Sunday January 20 with, Mega, a new effort to establish a cloud presence for music and movie file sharing, this time with encryption safeguards and “privacy” claims that he believes will allow him to evade authorities.

Mega uses symmetric key encryption in the browser, reports ZDNET. Every file has its own key, and only the uploader knows what it is. Users can share files, but only if they provide downloaders with the key to decrypt the file.

“Personal Use Only”

However, Mega’s terms and conditions implicitly recognize that users will upload copyright material such as back-up copies of their music files for personal use. To reduce storage demands, the system says that it will only store a single copy of files that it recognizes are not unique. How it knows they are not unique is not explained, nor is the system for handling different keys.

mega_silhouettes_small_1Schmitz, larger than life Internet pirate touts himself as a privacy champion. He has been under house arrest in his $30 million mansion in New Zealand awaiting trial for Megaupload. (The incarceration is no doubt a gesture to authorities and supporters alike.) He believes that Mega, launched one year after Megaupload was shutdown, will serve as an alternative.

From the look of Mega’s promotional illustration (right) and press conference, you would think that Schmitz and his crew were an aspiring rock band. They’re not. In fact, they are ripping many of them off, or helping others too.

In an exclusive interview in the Wall Street Journal (yes, WSJ) Schmitz talks about his company’s know-how or trade secrets being violated and his concern about child pornography. He believes that music piracy may be wrong but movies it is not, because through the industry’s business practices “they are forcing people into piracy.” See Schmitz’s Open Letter to Hollywood.

The WSJ interview conducted is worth reading. So is another good recent piece on Forbes.com, “Kim Dotcom’s New MEGA Encrypted Cloud Storage: See No Evil, Store No Evil.”

The copyright infringement case against Schmitz, billed as the largest to date given that Megaupload in its heyday commanded around four percent of global online traffic, could set a precedent for internet liability laws and depending on its outcome, may force entertainment companies to rethink their distribution methods.

Schmitz maintains that he is pro-innovation and the governments’ intrusion into individuals’ privacy and antiquated business models are the real villains. Previously, Schmitz, who is said to have a net worth of $200 million, was jailed in Germany for insider trading.

Schmitz, 38, faces years in jail if convicted of copyright infringement in the US. He is under house arrest in New Zealand awaiting a March hearing on whether to extradite him for trial.

*     *     *

Don’t be seduced by Schmitz’s bling life-style. He wants Mega subscribers to believe that he is a folk hero giving the people what they need and authorities to think that he is an an entrepreneur. He is neither.

Illustration source: cnet.com; bgr.com

About Bruce Berman

IP trend spotter, consultant and editor.

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