For many people Kim Dotcom is synonymous with Megaupload, the file-sharing giant that was taken down by the U.S. Government early 2012.
While the underlying criminal case against its operators is still ongoing, Megaupload will soon be back in business. At least, a fresh incarnation of the service which will be different in quite a few aspects.
This weekend Megaupload 2, or MU2, secured its first investment round. Through the online investment platform BnkToTheFuture, it raised well over a million dollars from 354 investors in just two weeks.
That’s quite an impressive achievement for a service that has yet to be launched and for which many technical details have yet to be released.
To find out a bit more TorrentFreak reached out to Kim Dotcom, who is not officially part of the venture but is operating as its chief “evangelist,” in part because of his ongoing legal cases.
As things currently stand, Megaupload 2.0 won’t be fully operational on the planned launch date, January 20th next year. However, the company will release additional details on how it will operate and function at that date, which also marks the fifth anniversary of the takedown of the original Megaupload.
“It is unlikely that we can make a full January 20th launch happen. The fund-raising was delayed and the legal team needed more time for the new setup. But we will reveal more details about Megaupload 2 and Bitcache on that special day,” Dotcom says.
From what has been revealed thus far, Megaupload 2.0 and the associated Bitcache platform will allow people to share and store files, linking every file-transfer to a bitcoin transaction.
This adds a layer of security for users of the service but also provides options for content creators to generate revenue. These bitcoin transactions will occur off the blockchain through Bitcache, since the blockchain itself wasn’t built to handle the massive volume Megaupload 2.0 envisions.
The bitcoin element is not the only part that’s different from the original Megaupload though. Perhaps surprisingly, the new incarnation isn’t going to store all files itself. Instead, it plans to use third-party providers such as Maidsafe and Storj.
“Megaupload 2 will be a caching provider for popular files on special high-speed servers that serve the files from ram. Long term storage will mostly be provided by numerous third-party sites that we are partnering with. You can expect more details on January 20,” Dotcom tells us.
This means that MU2 will mostly act as an intermediary between other file-storage platforms, adding a separate layer of encryption through Bitcache.
“MU2 via its third-party encryption providers will make sure that every file is encrypted on-the-fly. On top of that Bitcache will add an additional layer of encryption with its new ‘pay per download’ encrypted container.”
How the pay-per-download functionality will work exactly is unknown. The transaction value is said to be “absolutely minimal” per individual transfer, but good enough for content providers to earn revenue.
Another change compared to the original Megaupload is that the new service won’t offer unrestricted direct delete access to copyright holders. Instead, it will have a takedown procedure where all rightholder requests will be processed and manually checked by people.
“Megaupload 2 will not provide a direct delete tool,” Dotcom says, referring to the many mistakes rightsholders made on the original service.
“It will be a more time-consuming effort but because of mass automated takedown requests by the content industry with a failure rate of over 30% it has become a requirement to protect the rights of users.”
Megaupload 2.0 will be the third file storage service to use the Mega brand. A year after the takedown Dotcom launched the privacy company, Mega, which is still operational today albeit without his blessing.
From what we know thus far it’s clear that MU2 and Bitcache will be something quite different from both the original service and Mega. According to Dotcom, all changes will be for the better and he said that former Megaupload users will be welcomed with open arms.
With over a million raised by investors already, MU2 is currently valued at well over $50 million. While this is still peanuts compared to the multi-billion dollar IPO the original Megaupload was working on, it shows that people have faith in Dotcom and his team.
During the weeks to come more details about the new incarnation are expected to be released, which we plan to keep a close eye on.