Mega's offer: 50GB free storage and possible gotchas

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MegaUpload entrepreneur and digital rogue Kim Dotcom kicks off his Mega file storage and sharing service on Saturday, and recently let slip via Twitter that users will get 50GB of free storage at launch.

Kim Dotcom

That volume of free file storage would be seven times what Microsoft's SkyDrive offers, and 25 times the initial free limit on Dropbox. While Mega's 50GB limit sounds like a great deal, we won't know for another two days if the oversized limit will come with some equally large caveats.

Mega may well demand a few gotchas if the service emulates MegaUpload, Dotcom's infamous file storage service taken down by U.S. law enforcement in 2012.

Mega: What we know so far

Dotcom has spent the past few months slowly leaking plans for his Mega reboot and revealing how the service might avoid the ire of American copyright police. Any files stored on Mega will be encrypted locally on the user's PC and only that user will have the decryption key to open the file. That way Mega will have no idea what kind of content it has on its servers, and thus can't be held responsible for what users upload. At least that's the theory; Dotcom's plans have yet to be tested by any legal challenges.

kim dotcom mega
Kim Dotcom with his new venture.

Mega uploads and downloads will be entirely browser-based instead of accessed through the desktop client MegaUpload used. The service will feature online collaboration tools, and you will be able to mount your Mega cloud storage as a virtual drive on your PC. Dotcom also plans to open Mega to third-party client apps through the service's application programming interface (API).

Mega will be unveiled on January 20 in New Zealand (That's January 19 on the other side of the planet) during what Dotcom promises will be a “press conference like no other.” Dotcom recently posted a photo to Instagram of a rock concert stage being prepped for the Mega kickoff.

About those 50GB

But back to that Mega free limit of 50GB. It sounds like a lot of storage; however, using Mega may not be as straightforward as Dropbox, SkyDrive, or Google Drive. With those mainstream services all you have to do is sign up for an account, load up your cloud drive to the maximum limit, and access your files whenever you want.

Mega may follow a similar path, but Dotcom's previous cloud service imposed some caveats that may reappear with the new one. MegaUpload required anonymous free users to download all their stored files at least once every 21 days or the content would be deleted. If you were a registered Megaupload user you had to download you files at least once every 90 days, while only premium users could store files indefinitely without accessing them after a set period.

MegaUpload files

It's not clear whether Mega will follow MegaUpload's policies for nonpaying users, but one MegaUpload practice that Dotcom wants to bring to Mega is user files. Dotcom is working with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to help users regain access to files they lost during the MegaUpload raid one year ago. If the legal challenge is successful, Dotcom suggested he will transfer MegaUpload files to Mega, allowing users to be reunited with their digital bits once again. Dotcom also hopes to offer Megauplaod premium users similar accounts on Mega, but his lawyers say it's not possible initially.

“It is our desire to make you happy. When we have court permission or a case resolution you shall have your premium status back + more,” Dotcom said via Twitter on Thursday.

While Dotcom is busy launching Mega, he is still fighting it out in court with the U.S. Department of Justice over the charges of criminal copyright infringement that shuttered MegaUpload last January. Most recently, Mega lawyers were in U.S. court charging the DOJ mislead the court and attempted to entrap Megaupload.

Dotcom's 50GB Mega plans were first reported by The Next Web.

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