It only took a few days for some sneaky pirates to transform Kim Dotcom's totally legal new file-storage hub Mega into a file-sharing site that mimicked the old Megaupload, and it's only taken the last few hours for the former pirate king to fight back. The upstart site, Mega-Search.me, indexed user-submitted media stored on Mega and puts it all in one easily searchable database.* That included legal files as well as material that violates copyright, like some of the Girls episodes I found while searching the site — that is, before it stopped working a few minutes ago. Now, instead of a list of available content, Mega-Search loads blank, with the following pop-up alert in French:
That translates, roughly, to this: "Due to a script developed by Mega to delete the the entirety of the the files indexed on Megasearch, the search engine is temporarily unavailable. A solution to address this problem will be underway soon." So, from the looks of it, somebody over at Mega doesn't want its users' suddenly legal files living on a possibly illegal search engine that works like a "full blown piracy site" as Wired's David Kravets put it.
All of which represents a pretty remarkable transformation for Kim Dotcom, an outspoken leader of the file-sharing movement whose legal troubles last year with Megaupload led him to create the decidedly (and perhaps ingeniously) pirate-free Mega proper. He's gone to great lengths to make his latest project bulletproof to international authorities, and he's not about to let some third-party kids ruin all that, apparently. After calling Mega the most "the most legally scrutinized Internet site in the history of the Internet," Dotcom proudly tweeted about his having gone legit:
#Mega is now hosting almost 50 million files. Only 0.001% have been taken down by content owners. MASSIVE non-infringing use!— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) January 31, 2013
Dotcom launched Mega on January 19, with a kind of super-encryption that instantly became a draw over his many competitors. Mega-Search quickly followed five days later. But even when Mega-Search worked, many of the links on the new site led to takedown notices due to Mega's strict piracy guidelines — a clear and detailed infringement policy gives the site the power to take down uploads that might violate copyright, even though they're encrypted. Dotcom's policy isn't just an easy way to get around the authorities — Mega has already complied with a number of DCMA notices, taking down all the suspect files within 48 hours, according to LeakID, which sent the complaints. Maybe it's just the legal scrutiny, or maybe Dotcom has moved on from his life of crime, but the pirate king will stand for piracy no more. Kim Dotcom, it appears, is cracking down.
*This post originally stated that Mega-Search indexed all content from Mega. Because of the encryption, it can only index user-submitted content.