Odd: Mega Removing Any File It Can Find That Is Publicly Indexed — Even Completely Legitimate Uploads

from the strange-move dept

There has been talk about how various anti-piracy operations have been “testing” Kim Dotcom’s Mega in terms of how it responds to takedown notices (so far, it’s apparently doing quite well). However, the folks at TorrentFreak noticed something odd. From their tests, it appears that Mega is actually taking down almost anything that shows up via a search engine that was set up to search publicly released “Mega” links. TorrentFreak uploaded some content that has been shared legally, and which is authorized for further sharing — and all of it went away almost immediately.

To test how quickly a file is removed by Mega we decided to post some previously uploaded legal content to Mega-search.me ourselves. Our uploads included a few Dan Bull songs, a clip from the Pirate Bay documentary TPB-AFK, a video explaining fair use and Kim Dotcom’s single Mr. President.

Quite shockingly, the files were pulled down by Mega in a matter of minutes, claiming they had received copyright infringement notices for each of them.

We are in receipt of a takedown notice affecting the following public link
in your account:

https://mega.co.nz/#!iRQRnLzT

Please be reminded that MEGA respects the copyrights of others and requires that users of the MEGA cloud service comply with the laws of copyright. You are strictly prohibited from using the MEGA cloud service to infringe copyrights. You may not upload, download, store, share, display, stream, distribute, e-mail, link to, transmit or otherwise make available any files, data, or content that infringes any copyright or other proprietary rights of any person or entity.

Furthermore, please be reminded that, pursuant to our Terms of Service, accounts found to be repeat infringers are subject to termination.

It’s possible that someone is sending takedowns on all content it can find, or it’s possible that Mega itself is taking down all such content — and then flat out lying about receiving a takedown notice. Unfortunately, it also does not appear that Mega has any sort of appeals process, or the ability (as per the DMCA) to file a counternotice. While Mega is not a US company, and not subject to the DMCA, it seems only reasonable that it at least have a counternotice process.

Yes, given the legal mess that Kim Dotcom and his partners are in over their previous company, Megaupload, you can certainly understand why they might default to an extreme position of “take down everything that is publicly searched,” but that still seems ridiculous. There is plenty of content out there that is legally shareable, and if Mega does not want to allow public sharing at all, even of legal content, it should make that explicit. Alternatively, if someone is issuing bogus takedowns, Mega should have a process for dealing with that. Finally, it seems that Mega is in desperate need of an appeals process or counternotification system.

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Companies: mega

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Comments on “Odd: Mega Removing Any File It Can Find That Is Publicly Indexed — Even Completely Legitimate Uploads”

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68 Comments
Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

Sad...

Why does it seem that the victims of the law are always our legal rights?

Where is the consequence to those that falsely enforce the law in a manner not legally sanctioned?

I think that the immunity that public servants currently enjoy with regards to the being sued should be revoked until they can show that they are not acting out of unenlightened self interest. Too often those people strike first and do not care whether or not what they do is fully legal or enforceable based on law because they know the victims have very little legal recourse. Also they do so to protect their job first and help their advancement in the world of government.

anonymouse says:

Re: Re: Sad...

Yes a company has to protect itself but not what Mega has done here, he is deleting peoples content, that reminds us of all those people that lost their content last time around, Mega should have known better in my opinion and this could actually mean its death-knell, who is going to upload to a site and pay for that privileged with the understanding that their content could be deleted and there is no way to get it back or to complain about it. Big mistake this no matter how much he is trying to protect himself he is losing a lot of potential customers that were probably just trying it out before paying for a subscription. Well burnt twice, not again, torrenting is much safer to send big files. File-lockers are history it seems, for now anyway. And was he not wanting support for a music site, lol, I suspect a lot of people will be avoiding anything to do with him for a while now, and to think that I supported him through everything he has gone through.

nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile) says:

Re: Re:

This seems to confirm my own suspicions that Dotcom wants to make it extremely difficult for clueless MAFIAA execs to simply ‘google’ content stored on Mega’s servers.

I wouldn’t discount it just yet – it’s a play to remove the benefit of Google to Hollywood. They can’t issue DMCA’s or sue if their bots can’t simply search for links.

I also suspect Dotcom has configured his website to automatically blame a DMCA request – probably an underhand attempt to smear the DMCA process.

It’s quite interesting to watch these developments. What happens if the MAFIAA can no longer use Google to find infringing content?

Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

Re: Re: I am the anti-AC comment provider

I am trying to say that you and all ACs are nothing more than shills for a biased and paid comment group.

The point is that with a very vibrant community that loves to express it’s opinions it is very suspicious that the top/first commenter’s are ACs.

It raises my troll meter to new high levels and makes your comments about as valid as a joke lottery ticket.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: I am the anti-AC comment provider

Whelp, first time to be on the receiving end of such hate on techdirt. You might want to check with CwF guidebook for the appropriate response (I doubt calling everyone shills purely based on the fact that they post ‘fast’ is in there)

Assuming you’re sincere: I just check in on techdirt every now and then and sometimes an article has just been posted. This time I took the effort to make a post…

Note that I’m not offended or anything, just amused ๐Ÿ™‚

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I am the anti-AC comment provider

Okay, as a signed in commenter, what the deuce are you talking about? With so many readers the fact that occasionally the first commenters will be AC’s is hardly suspicious, but simple a matter of the odds.

If anything the AC’s so far seem to be raising good points as to how MEGA has some big problems and what it’ll mean for the service going forward, while avoiding any insane claims along the lines of ‘it’s a file locker so obviously it’s for piracy’ that would justify the ‘shills’ accusation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: I am the anti-AC comment provider

Reported this one because I find it deeply offensive.

Trolls MAY often be ACs.

But ACs are NOT all automatically trolls.

In fact, most of the worst trolls DO in fact use some sort of handle… like bob, Darryl, TAM, or out_of_the_blue even if they’re not registered.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 I am the anti-AC comment provider

Me too. He started out ok, but quickly spiraled into a non-credible “Insider”, with a pompous attitude, acting very much like the trolls he despises.

There’s also this… lol

“The point is that with a very vibrant community that loves to express it’s opinions it is very suspicious that the top/first commenter’s are ACs.”

Hmmm… Who was the first commenter on this story again?

Mouth, meet foot. lol

Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 I am the anti-AC comment provider

Ok you are right I did unfairly make a blanket statement that was not valid.

I posted first because I had the time and also TechDirt Crystal Ball. Which AC’s generally don’t. I also did not say the First commenter I said the first commenter’s which I agree is not a good way to word my statement.

What I meant in my haste was that I found it funny that those that commented after me were a higher than normal percentage of people that did not post with a handle.

So enough of the BS. Let’s discuss the issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The linking site is called “Mega-search.me”. The way I’m reading Kim’s comment is that he has issues with their use of the word “Mega” in their name which is his “brand”, but I could be wrong. Time will tell.

Still no excuse though for the way he’s handled & disabled perfectly legal files.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Kim’s explaination…

https://mega.co.nz/#blog_5

“MEGA as a cloud storage provider is not required to police its users. For example, under the United States DMCA safe harbour, pursuant to 17 U.S.C. ? 512(e), the DMCA safe harbour provisions are not conditioned upon a service provider “monitoring its service or affirmatively seeking facts indicating infringing activity.” Section 512 represents a legislative determination that copyright owners must themselves bear the burden of policing for infringing activity ? service providers are under no such duty.

However, it has come to MEGA’s attention that there are micro search engines that use our (M) logo and other MEGA branding without authorization. Worse, such site(s) were reported in a highly publicized manner and purport to be globally available search engines, but don’t have their own DMCA takedown policy or registered DMCA agent.

In addition, MEGA distinguishes itself from other major cloud storage providers through two important concepts: Privacy and security. Both are utterly eviscerated by making encryption keys public, a fact that is not only self-evident, but also made very clear in the MEGA user interface:

“Caution: MEGA’s cryptographic security model depends on the confidentiality of the keys displayed above. Avoid transmitting them through insecure channels!”

We apologize to the very small number of users who, due to MEGA’s cautious legal practices, had some of their authorized files mistakenly taken down. We do believe that by ignoring our advice and making encryption keys public, especially through sites that do not even implement a proper notice-and-takedown protocol, you were not entirely unprepared for negative repercussions.”

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

THE SKY IS FALLING[/sarcasm]

Title is what everyone who’s saying that MEGA has failed sounds like right now. Three things:

1) MEGA is only 11 DAYS OLD! Plus it’s the brainchild of the copyright industry’s #1 enemy, Kim Dotcom. Did you really think that things wouldn’t go off without a hitch? (also, it’s still (supposedly) in Beta, so there’s probably still a few kinks to work out)

2) Unless you didn’t get the memo before, MEGA=/=MegaUpload. MEGA’s slogan is even “THE PRIVACY COMPANY”. The fact that your files were taken down because you released the links on a public index site and they caught the eye of some overzealous copyright lobby stooge is your own damn fault. In other words, don’t go publicly sharing the files just yet. Wait until MEGA’s at least a few months old before you start sharing your stuff.

3) The US DoJ is breathing down Dotcom’s neck, looking for any excuse to say that MEGA is just MU back from the dead, and then get Kim Dotcom tossed back in jail for violating his bail agreement, and quickly extradited to the US for their witch trial. So yeah, if MEGA’s being overzealous with the takedown notices, or just trying to stop people from sharing them on public index sites, I can’t say I really blame him for trying to cover his fat ass.

It’ll be interesting to see what’s really going on though.

As the Zen Master says, “We’ll see.”

Anonymous Coward says:

“But linking sites abusing the Mega brand will be blocked.”

I thought one of Mega’s goals was to upset the current distribution model… but if public linking isn’t allowed, how will independents (music, software, etc.) use his site for their content distrubution?

I’m not sure Torrent Freak published their links publicaly.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Re: Re:

TF uploaded it to Mega-search.me, which is a public-index site. So yes, they did publish the links to their content on a public site.

As for MEGA’s goals being to upset the current business model, I think you might be mixing up MEGA with Dotcom’s MegaBox music service that was put on hold as a result of last year’s raid. But if he was talking about MEGA, then it’s obvious there are still some kinks to work out with the service… it hasn’t even been online for two weeks, so these things are bound to sort themselves out one way or another.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Torrentfreak published their links to the public listing site of Mega-search.me

Go look it up (insert the “Mega-search.me” letters into a browser URL and press Enter).

Though I’ts interesting when you think how they only chose video and music files to link to publicly and they were removed, I wonder if documents or images would be removed and if not that means it is highly likely that a robot is automagically looking for music and videos and sending them as “infringing notices” (not DMCA’s) to Mega. Makes more sense then Mega doing it proactively themselves.

Also interestingly (and I’m not sure people actually realise this yet) if a notice is sent to mega and it’s done maliciously, vindictively, fallaciously, or without full due diligence and it pulls a file that is not what they say it is (ie: lawful) the owner of that file has full legal recourse against the organisation that sent it. This is even more so if that owner is not American. The reason for this is there is no qualified immunity as under the DMCA since the DMCA is not relevant in this matter.

hmmmm….

JarHead says:

Re: Re: Re:

Tested mega-search.me last night, before this story broke out (but after I read about the existence of the site on Wired). What I found was indeed what you’ve suspected: the majority of the deleted files are music and videos. Images, especially single images (i.e. JPG files, not packed in archive) are intact. Haven’t tried with docs or ISOs yet, cos I lost interest when the majority of “interesting” links are down.

Tom Anderson says:

Isn't it the LINKING itself that is violating the copyright

The Mega terms say you cannot link to its site without getting written permission. So the LINKING in a search engine is violating the copyright of Mega!

“You are not allowed to, and you can’t let anyone else… display… by linking… or use any of our copyright, intellectual property… without getting our permission first in writing”

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m not offended that one of the regulars believes that all unsigned are trolls of some sort. I regularly comment here and I am anything but a shill. Trust me when I say this. I’d rather see what is passing now as a business model along with the corporations that have pushed it to this point burned to the ground in hopes that what arises might be better than what we have now.

I’m very surprised that folk would believe a new service would go off without a hitch. It takes time to massage a new service into a polished state. Still long ago I’ve learned to be patient and see what comes of various new things; not limited to just Mega.

Dave says:

Mega Search

Megasearch (previously working OK) pops up with this (in French):

Due to a script developed by Mega to delete all files indexed on Mega-search, the engine is temporarily unavailable. A solution to overcome this problem will be made shortly.

Does this REALLY mean that the very act of searching for something publicly available actually deletes the file?

Anonymous Coward says:

I read all of the above then I find this:
http://gizmodo.com/5953044/the-new-megaupload-has-a-super-clever-way-to-avoid-copyright-infringement-and-getting-raided-again

How can they know unless they do have the encryption keys and do look at what is uploaded?
(tl; dr: the link reports that Mega has no idea what is uploaded, but the article above reports that they do.)

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