Don't call it a comeback: Megaupload goes legit

The notorious Kim Dotcom is spurning piracy for privacy with Mega, a digital locker service, but lots of legal questions remain

You gotta hand it to Kim Dotcom, aka Kim Schmitz, the German-born posterboy for copyright scofflaws. When the 6-foot-7-inch, 350-pound-plus Dotcom does something, he does it big. This week's launch of Mega, a new "privacy" service that promises 50GB of free online storage so secure even the spooks can't get to it, is no exception.

Mega is the successor to Megaupload, the wildly popular digital locker that got locked down by the federales in a coordinated online/real-world raid exactly one year ago. Megaupload was allegedly a haven for movie thieves, allowing them to store and swap pirated films by the thousands. Unfortunately, thousands of perfectly legitimate Megaupload users also got locked out, losing access to the files they had uploaded. Today, a year after the lockdown, they still can't get to their stuff.

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On Sunday, Dotcom officially opened Mega for business, complete with an over-the-top extravaganza featuring a mock FBI helicopter raid. So far, though, Mega mostly looks like a megafail. Not that it's lacking in popularity -- according to Dotcom, more than a million people signed up on the first day alone. That's part of the problem.

It took me more than a day to get the site to load in my browser, another two days to actually register. After a few dozen failed attempts I am now currently uploading an hour-long legally purchased movie at modemlike speeds. I created a second account to see if I could swap files between them. That one worked -- for a day. Now Mega is telling me I have the wrong log-in info (I don't). If you lose your log-in, guess what? You lose access to everything. There's no way to recover or change your password, though Mega's minions say that's coming.

Dotcom has acknowledged the screwups via a series of tweets.

The massive global PR around the #Mega launch is simply to big to handle for our start-up. I apologize for poor service quality
We are working 24/7 and expect normal operations within 48 hours. Lesson learned... No fancy launch event for Megabox ;-)
We are making good progress. Adding servers & fixing bugs. It should not be long until you can enjoy #Mega without hiccups.

Naturally, there's rampant speculation Mega's problems are due to a DDoS attack launched by operatives of the MPAA and the feds, or that some offshoot of Anonymous has taken a dislike to Dotcom and is gumming up the works. I suspect the cause is more basic: Dotcom failed to anticipate the interest he'd managed to stir up. You'd think a guy who's made tens of millions of dollars selling bandwidth and storage would think to have enough bandwidth and storage to go around.

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