Me.ga 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 Me.ga. 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 www.me.ga," 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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 9:46am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 10:47am

    I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

    The real threat to the RIAA members is not piracy, which probably actually improves their sales, but alternative business models, which give musicians a better income, and eliminate the heed for the music labels.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 10:48am

    Re: I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

    oops..
    r/heed/need/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Applesauce, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 10:49am

    Coincidence

    "...I'm sure that's just a coincidence."

    Yes, an incredible coincidence...

    Also in unrelated news, note the preceding Techdirt post where an Author boosted sales by assisting in the piracy of his own book. Intelligent people can learn from the experience of others.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Kenneth Michaels, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 10:51am

    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 rojadirecta.com 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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    fb39ca4 (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 10:53am

    Well that escalated quickly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Kenneth Michaels, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 10:58am

    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 thepiratebay.se).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 11:15am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 11:19am

    Re:

    Guilty until proven innocent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 11:32am

    thought crimes

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Quinn Wilde, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 11:35am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 11:37am

    nooooooooooooooo

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 11:38am

    So pirates get no safe harbor in Gabon...

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

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 11:39am

    I bet Dot Com does not make this mistake again

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    gorehound (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 11:52am

    Re: It's about National Security

    Pretty close explanation.
    NOTE:
    I Hate This Government and actively Boycott all MAFIAA for Life.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 11:53am

    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).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Shmerl, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 11:55am

    Re: The slipper slope has slid

    They have a long record of doing this. All DRM is about preemptive policing. It's just start spilling into more and more areas now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Gwiz (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:11pm

    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?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:19pm

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

    And the pirates at Gabon Telecom (wholly owned by those infamous thieves at Vivendi who run the biggest thieving MMO in the world, World of Warcraft and run the largest Imaginary Property cartel, NBC Universal?

    They get a raise and free artist's corpses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Baldaur Regis (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:28pm

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

    What a good observation! Here's a cookie - go outside and play, now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:35pm

    Diplomatic Pressure

    I suspect the Obama Administration's direct involvement. Not content with just a lack of due process, they're now shutting down websites before there's even an alleged infringement.

    So it's four more years of undemocratic behind-the-scenes dealings. I hope you're all happy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    JarHead, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re:

    Guilty until proven innocent

    Guilty until life+70yrs

    FTFY

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    DH's Love Child (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:48pm

    I keep thinking

    that Iceland is looking more and more attractive every day....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:51pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Dotcom's website, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:56pm

    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?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    Tunnen (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 12:59pm

    Re: The slipper slope has slid

    Or perhaps we get Kim Dotcom to announce he is going to attempt to register a .gov address and cause the DOJ/ICE/whoever to seize and disable all .gov domains... =P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Kenneth Michaels, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re: It's about National Security

    Yes, that is what I meant. Copyright infringement and enforcement is being treated as a national security issue. It is, of course, not a national security issue and just a special interest of a domestic industry.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    johnny canada, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 1:41pm

    I think DotCom is smarter than we give him credit for.

    Test the waters with a release of a .GA site and wait and see what happens.

    It gets closed down fast. Note one dollar of his money is lost. move on to the next domain

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 2:49pm

    He should consider starting his own alternative DNS system. Who wouldn't want a .mega domain name?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 4:46pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 5:36pm

    Re: It's a trap?

    When faced with an opponent who told a Grand Jury that a company paying its bills is money laundering, it doesn't take much to get the high ground.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    lucidrenegade (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 6:19pm

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

    Preferably in traffic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 7:29pm

    Re: It's about National Security

    protecting 30,000 U.S. jobs and ignoring 300,000 or so that are shipped overseas. Yup. That sounds like MAFAA ownership.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 7:38pm

    I hoped the fiasco with New Zealand would have swayed other nations not to follow U.S. instructions without questioning. I guess Gabone doesn't care about their own sovereignty.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 7:41pm

    I don't know why Kim is wasting his time with tlds other than ".onion" ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    icon
    Keii (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 7:50pm

    Re:

    You have to wonder if it was legitimately a mistake or a tactical effort to get more people on his side.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    icon
    Alana (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 9:06pm

    Re: Diplomatic Pressure

    You say that as if Romney would have been any better.

    Spoilers:

    he wouldn't.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    F!, Nov 7th, 2012 @ 9:07pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    icon
    techflaws (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 10:50pm

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

    Don't worry. Dotcom will register elsewhere, like Venezuela, add let Chavez stick it to the man.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    icon
    techflaws (profile), Nov 7th, 2012 @ 10:52pm

    Re: Diplomatic Pressure

    they're now shutting down websites before there's even an alleged infringement.

    Who would have thought thought crimes would materialise like this?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2012 @ 1:15am

    Re: It's about National Security

    If Megaupload is indeed another rojadirecta.com then Dotcom should sue. If the US government did act illegally in seizeing and shutting down Megaupload then surely they would dismiss the case as they did with rojadirecta.com.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    Bas Grasmayer (profile), Nov 8th, 2012 @ 1:31am

    Did you notice that shortly after the .ga gov't seized the domain, some hackers managed to get a hold of it?

    http://torrentfreak.com/me-ga-hackers-were-real-pirates-well-sell-dotcoms-domain-to-universal -121107/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    relghuar, Nov 8th, 2012 @ 5:38am

    Coincidences...

    Or maybe Gabon learned from Cambodia's example? If there haven't been any large international aid to Cambodia lately, I'll certainly watch for one in near future....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This