Gabon has thwarted Kim Dotcom’s plans to launch a successor site to file-sharing service Megaupload under me.ga, after its government suspended the web address.
Gabon’s Communication Minister Blaise Louembe said the government took the action ahead of me.ga’s proposed launch next year owing to concerns that, like its predecessor, the site would host pirated content.
“Gabon cannot serve as a platform or screen for committing acts aimed at violating copyrights, nor be used by unscrupulous people,” he said.
The .ga domain represents Gabon and is administered by Gabon Telecom.
Megaupload co-founder Kim Dotcom, currently awaiting extradition from New Zealand after his arrest in January, immediately reacted on Twitter claiming the decision demonstrated the influence of the US and Vivendi, a French media company.
He confirmed there is a backup domain, and is calling for partners outside the US to host the new site, which is due to launch on January 19, 2013, exactly one year after his arrest.
Gina Durham, partner at DLA Piper, said: “Some will argue that suspending me.ga before its launch is not justified given that Kim Dotcom has not yet been convicted and the domain could have, theoretically, been used for legal activities. But characterising this suspension as such really mischaracterises how domain name delegation occurs.
“Registries that operate particular domain extensions are private entities for the most part, and not government entities.”
In an attempt to keep site administrators from being held accountable for copyright infringement, Dotcom said me.ga would encrypt all uploaded files so that any pirated content is unknown to them.
Durham added: “To the extent that a new site is launched in a way intended to manipulate loopholes in current IP laws, this may provide an impetus for governments to work together to harmonise certain basic levels of IP protection on an international level.”
This article was first published on 14 November 2012 in World IP Review
Megaupload, Kim Dotcom, .ga, file-sharing, online piracy