For many people Kim Dotcom is synonymous with Megaupload, the file-sharing giant that was taken down by the U.S. Government early 2012.
While Megaupload is no more, the New Zealand Internet entrepreneur is working on a new file-sharing site. Initially dubbed Megaupload 2, the new service will be called K.im, and it will be quite different from its predecessor.
This week Dotcom, who’s officially the chief “evangelist” of the service, showed a demo to a few thousand people revealing more about what it’s going to offer.
K.im is not a central hosting service, quite the contrary. It will allow users to upload content and distribute it to dozens of other services, including Dropbox, Google, Reddit, Storj, and even torrent sites.
The files are distributed across the Internet where they can be accessed freely. However, there is a catch. The uploaders set a price for each download and people who want a copy can only unlock it through the K.im app or browser addon, after they’ve paid.
K.im, paired with Bitcache, is basically a micropayment solution. It allows creators to charge the public for everything they upload. Every download is tied to a Bitcoin transaction, turning files into their own “stores.”
Kim Dotcom tells TorrentFreak that he sees the service as a copyright revolution. It should be a win-win solution for independent creators, rightsholders, and people who are used to pirating stuff.
“I’m working for both sides. For the copyright holders and also for the people who what to pay for content but have been geo-blocked and then are forced to download for free,” Dotcom says.
Like any other site that allows user uploaded content, K.im can also be used by pirates who want to charge a small fee for spreading infringing content. This is something Dotcom is aware of, but he has a solution in mind.
Much like YouTube, which allows rightsholders to “monetise” videos that use their work, K.im will provide an option to claim pirated content. Rightsholders can then change the price and all revenue will go to them.
So, if someone uploads a pirated copy of the Game of Thrones season finale through K.im, HBO can claim that file, charge an appropriate fee, and profit from it. The uploader, meanwhile, maintains his privacy.
“It is the holy grail of copyright enforcement. It is my gift to Hollywood, the movie studios, and everyone else,” Dotcom says.
Dotcom believes that piracy is in large part caused by an availability problem. People can often not find the content they’re looking for so it’s K.im’s goal to distribute files as widely as possible. This includes several torrent sites, which are currently featured in the demo.
Interestingly, it will be hard to upload content to sites such as YTS, EZTV, KickassTorrents, and RARBG, as they’ve been shut down or don’t allow user uploads. However, Dotcom stresses that the names are just examples, and that they are still working on partnering with various sites.
Whether torrent sites will be eager to cooperate has yet to be seen. It’s possible that the encrypted files, which can’t be opened without paying, will be seen as “spam” by traditional torrent sites.
Also, from a user perspective, one has to wonder how many people are willing to pay for something if they set out to pirate it. After all, there will always be plenty of free options for those who refuse to or can’t pay.
Dotcom, however, is convinced that K.im can create a “copyright revolution.” He stresses that site owners and uploaders can greatly benefit from it as they receive affiliate fees, even after a pirated file is claimed by a rightsholder.
In addition, he says it will revolutionise copyright enforcement, as copyright holders can monetise the work of pirates. That is, if they are willing to work with the service.
“Rightsholders can turn piracy traffic into revenue and users can access the content on any platform. Since every file is a store, it doesn’t matter where it ends up,” Dotcom says.
Dotcom does have a very valid point here. Many people have simply grown used to pirating because it’s much more convenient than using a dozen different services. In Dotcom’s vision, people can just use one site to access everything.
The ideas don’t stop at sharing files either. In the future, Dotcom also wants to use the micropayment option to offer YouTubers and media organisations to accept payments from the public, BBC notes.
There’s still a long way to go before K.im and Bitcache go public though. The expected launch date is not final yet, but the services are expected to go live in mid-to-late 2018.