Domain Pulled Out From Under New Kim Dotcom Venture

from the well-look-at-that dept

As we’ve noted, we’ve been avoiding stories about whatever “new” service Kim Dotcom is launching, because it all sounds like hype and vaporware to us. Until there’s something real, it’s all just rampant speculation, and it’s a little silly how much adoration people have for an idea whose details have not been released at all. However, we will cover factual information related to the effort, and as was widely reported by others, the plan had been to use the domain name This had a few useful “features.” First, it plays on the “mega” prefix that is so closely associated with Dotcom’s offerings. Perhaps more importantly (at least, it’s a key thing that many in the press covered), the .ga domain is not technically subject to control or seizure by the US (though, of course, SOPA/PIPA were intended to deal with just that kind of situation).

However, even without SOPA/PIPA, there is still the power of diplomatic pressure, and it didn’t take long for the Communications Minister of Gabon to announce that the domain was being suspended:

“I have instructed my departments… to immediately suspend the site,” announced Communication Minister Blaise Louembe, saying he wanted to “protect intellectual property rights” and “fight cyber crime effectively”.

“Gabon cannot serve as a platform or screen for committing acts aimed at violating copyrights, nor be used by unscrupulous people,” the minister said.

Of course, that seems pretty presumptuous on a number of levels. Since the service has not been launched — and the actual details have not been revealed — it’s a bit premature to declare that the site must somehow violate intellectual property rights or be useful for cybercrime. And if government officials are stepping in to kill off cyberlockers based entirely on rumor and innuendo, will .ga block any other cyberlocker as well? Considering how popular such services are — including those run by well-established companies like Amazon, Google and Dropbox — it makes you wonder how Gabon decides who gets to use a .ga domain.

There may also be a separate issue at play here. As some have noted, the .ga top level domain is administered by Gabon Telecom, which just so happens to be a wholly owned subsidiary of Vivendi… the same company who owns the world’s largest music label, Universal Music. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

Filed Under: , , , , ,
Companies: mega, megaupload

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Comments on “ Domain Pulled Out From Under New Kim Dotcom Venture”

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Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

The slipper slope has slid

Anybody that reads Techdirt regularly could have seen this coming. You go from seizing a domain for pirate activity, then for linking to pirated material, then for the possibility of allowing someone to store pirated material, then forget all that due process stuff.

Let’s just not let them even set up anything that we think that might in the future result in something that could in some way have anything to do with (maybe) a website that we think will have the possibility of involving pirated material.

That should prevent any future problems.

MrWilson says:

Re: The slipper slope has slid

It’s like witch hunts and red scares. Once you’ve been stained by an accusation, in the minds of the accusers and their two-minutes-hate-followers, you’re are now a pirate and everything you do or plan to do is piracy, even if it involved curing cancer (pirating the business of pharmaceutical companies) or feeding the homeless (pirating the business of large agro businesses).

Kenneth Michaels says:

Re: Business Models

Yes, the MPAA/RIAA know that they cannot stop piracy. The RIAA/MPAA use piracy as an excuse to pass laws that make it more difficult for new comers to challenge their business models. The “Pirate Bay” is a perfect example – hard to think of a more evil sounding website to convince legislatures to pass new bad laws (that will be used to crush any new competition, not

Kenneth Michaels (profile) says:

It's about National Security

Copyright is now a matter of national security in the US – to protect jobs and economy from foreign criminals and thieves. The US is using the same tactics used in terrorism cases, including the application of extreme diplomatic pressure (on New Zealand and Gabon).

The US will do anything to stop Dotcom, to prevent him from defending himself, and to keep the contrived criminal law uncertain so they can continue to use it to shut down websites, particularly foreign ones that cannot easily afford to defend themselves in the US. The US dropped the criminal charges against just so they could keep the law uncertain (“contributory copyright infringement”), so they could continue to use this contrived law against Megaupload and other websites.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: It's about National Security

I think that you mean copyright infringement is being treated as a national security issue, as it’s not in fact a national security issue.

I seriously doubt anyone thinks it’s really a matter of national security. The various megacorps are just jealous of the extralegal activities that become possible by pretending it is.

Quinn Wilde (user link) says:

Oh for goodness sake. This is how you lose a PR war, outright.

Honest people call for justice when they see injustice, and the best of us for it even, maybe especially, when the person who has injustice done against them is unpopular, or a ‘bad person’.

But even the best of us get will eventually fall prey to generalisations, and frankly I have yet to see one story about this whole affair that’s made me want to say to myself “Well, to be fair to the US Government…”, or “Yes, but the movie industry have some good points”.

I’m in danger of picking a side here, rather than trying to make a fair judgement in each and every case, because it’s been increasingly difficult to see two sides to this whole story.

I suppose this must be sort of what it’s like to be a Copyright maximalist, only with less money and parties.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: So pirates get no safe harbor in Gabon...

and pirates here whine that without being safe from US laws Megaupload can’t operate.

I don’t believe I’ve see that argued. Prior to the indictment Megaupload was complying with DMCA notifications, even though they didn’t believe they were under US jurisdiction.

Now if you are talking about being safe from persecution from the US government, well, that’s a different story, isn’t it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Everything that can be invented...

In 1899, the Commissioner of the US Patent Office famously remarked, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

In 2012, I think a more apt (and possibly truer) statement would be, “Everything that can be invented with the MPAA/RIAA’s permission has been invented.”

Buckle up folks. As long as the copyright maximalists are running the show, our civilization’s technological progress is going to plateau, then gradually decline until we reach the 1800’s–or possibly the middle ages, depending on how they feel about the Gutenberg press.

Dotcom's website says:

Since we now know that the US government doesn’t care at all about silly little things like DCMA safe harbor, jurisdiction, due process or the rule of law in general, I’m starting to wonder why they allowed Kim to put up his new website after the raid.

It even has a .com domain name. Why hasn’t Biden just sent anti-terrorist forces to take that website offline as well?

Anonymous Coward says:

It's a trap?

Could this have actually been a clever trap set by Dotcom? First, the new venture is nothing but vague generalities and vaporware. Then he registers a domain name. And then, before there could *possibly* be any legitimate grounds for it, it’s seized.

Seems like he may have purposely lured the governments of the world into jumping the gun and revealing themselves to be corrupt agents of big industry, to me. He can now point to this to cement his hold on the moral high ground, or use it to push for reform in the behavior of the US government in particular and even governments in general.

F! says:

Re: Re:

I don’t know why Kim is wasting his time with tlds other than “.onion”

Excellent point. Only problem I see with that is that being a storage locker for presumably larger files, the necessary bandwidth wouldn’t be available. Maybe he could provide a .onion service (and tor servers) in addition to whatever he’s planning, and it may have the side effect of bringing tor into the mainstream. Not holding my breath, but until the number of tor servers online increases at least by an order of magnitude, a major bitlocker service on a .onion domain wouldn’t really be viable.

Great idea none-the-less. I’d like to see it happen.

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