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Top New Zealand web exec joins Kim Dotcom, compares Mega to Google

Top New Zealand web exec joins Kim Dotcom, compares Mega to Google


Can a new CEO add the legitimacy Mega so desperately needs?

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kim dotcom vikram kumar
kim dotcom vikram kumar

Controversial cloud hosting site Mega, the successor to the infamous piracy hub Megaupload, just got a major boost in credibility from a high-profile New Zealand internet executive and advocate.

Vikram Kumar, the former head of the company that administers the .nz domain, just announced he has joined Mega as CEO. "From meeting with the Mega team, I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that they intend to run the company in a manner that is well within both the letter and spirit of the law," Kumar said in a blog post announcing the move.

Kumar compared Mega's launch to Google's launch of Gmail, suggesting that Mega could be the next "significant Internet services company out of New Zealand." Mega has signed up more than two million users since it launched, Kumar told PC World.

Mega has signed up more than two million users since it launched

Mega's founders, including the infamous Kim Dotcom, are still battling criminal charges of copyright infringement and racketeering in the US over alleged activity surrounding Megaupload. Critics say Mega is merely a more discreet version of Megaupload and will be used to facilitate piracy, while Dotcom says the company is a personal cloud storage service in the same business as Dropbox and Google Drive. Mega can and is being used to illegal trade copyrighted files, but the company has been responsive to requests to take down copyrighted works. And as we wrote before, Mega is no pirate's paradise — its carefully designed structure does more to protect the company from law enforcement than shelter individual users.

Dotcom is popular with New Zealanders and the local press, who are more than thrilled to have an ostentatious world-famous celebrity in their midst. Opinions are mixed within the New Zealand government, which initially cooperated with the US crackdown on Megaupload before local courts deemed the investigation illegal, but perhaps Kumar can help with that, too — he spent five years at the State Services Commission, an agency of the central government.

Kumar believes copyright laws are too harsh

Kumar maintains that Mega is not intended for illegal file-sharing, but he also believes that copyright laws are too harsh. In January, Kumar left his position as CEO of InternetNZ, which uses its profits to fund internet advocacy including the opposition of New Zealand's strict three-strikes copyright violation law. He called the US Attorney's crusade against Megaupload, "A symbol of governments trying to extend and twist copyright law into new, novel areas to protect legacy business models in an Internet age."

Mega's previous CEO Tony Lentino will remain on Mega's board. According to The National Business Review, Lentino owns 10 percent of Mega. The rest is owned by Dotcom's wife, Mona, likely to protect it from being seized if Dotcom is extradited to face trial in the US.