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New Dotcom site greeted with scepticism

Monday 21 Jan 2013 6:29 p.m.

Kim Dotcom's new website has only just launched and has already been greeted with scepticism and disapproval from parts of the creative industry. Amid the fanfare of its arrival, it also has been struggling under high levels of internet traffic.

Designed to be a spectacle, the launch for Dotcom's new business was a big production, with a bash at his Auckland mansion last night featuring a fake raid.

But one TV producer says the new venture has little regard for copyright owners, and fears it will be used for illegal downloads of music, films and television programmes.

“Leopards don't change their spots,” says John Barnett of South Pacific Pictures. “The last incarnation of this was supposedly generating $500 million a year. Find me a musician or a filmmaker who made a dollar out of that.”

“This is certainly not our way of showing anybody the finger,” says Dotcom. “It's us being innovators.”

A key feature of the site is security. The user's files are encrypted before they are uploaded, so the whole time they are on the Mega's servers they can't be accessed by anyone without a passkey, including the company itself.

Theoretically, this could protect the site from the allegation facing Dotcom's previous venture – that the company knew it was hosting illegally copied material. Dotcom insists this site is within the law, but then that's also what he says about the last site, which was shut down by the FBI.

The new Mega sells itself as "the privacy company", but a privacy expert warns users could still be forced by law to provide access to their data.

“People often have an unrealistic expectation of privacy,” says associate professor Gehan Gunasekara of University of Auckland Business School. “And the Privacy Act doesn't protect people's privacy absolutely. There are many, many exceptions.”

Dotcom says half-a-million users signed up to his site in the 14 hours after it launched. That meant the servers were overloaded, and those problems have continued today.

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