MEGA Declares War on Pirate-Based Google Advertising…

So who’s the bigger pirate: Kim Dotcom, or Google? It’s an extremely inconvenient question for a world that has cleanly cast Dotcom the villiain, and Google the hero.  But perhaps it’s only fitting that a Hollywood-style narrative has also invaded a very complex, real-world story.

Enter discourse-changing actors like David Lowery, who may now have a strange ally in Dotcom, at least in certain scenes.  That’s because Dotcom is now also calling out Google for making billions off of piracy, thanks to a search machine that often shuttles searchers to pirate sites, then makes money off the resulting ads.  Sadly, none of that money seems to make it back to artists or rights owners, but does remunerate the site owners and of course, Google itself.

Dotcom now wants to disrupt that structure with MegaBox, a music-focused offshoot of MEGA that would give 90 percent of earnings from uploads back to artists.  That was primed to go live early last year, before a few other ‘events’ took place.  This time around, we know that MegaKey is a technology that would reside on user systems, and actively overwrite Google ad-serving code.  “Google is the largest index of pirated content in the world and they don’t pay any license holder and they are in business and they are doing really well,” Dotcom said during a recent MEGA press conference.

“So if my software can force companies like Google to pay their little share to content creators, it wouldn’t really hurt them.”

Perhaps the bigger question is why Google is behaving this way, especially given how quickly public sentiment can shift.  The cynical answer starts with a ‘$’ sign.  “You should also get a tiny part of what they give out,” Dotcom continued.  “This is not about stealing from small players, this is just a reshuffling of ad income into the right pockets.”

The timing on this couldn’t be more perfect.  Google and brands have largely been blaming indiscriminate ad networks for dropping ads on pirate sites, though critics like Lowery have exposed that line of reasoning as a ridiculous, ‘blame Skynet’ defense.  In other words, if the ‘machine’ is putting ads on pirate sites and funnelling revenue back to actors like Google, perhaps the machine itself (ie, complex ad networks created by humans) needs to re-examined.

Which is, exactly the deconstruction effort happening at USC Annenberg Labs, a group that has started to map and identify the complex nodes of purposely-opaque ad networks.  And, forced major brands like Levi’s to entirely reconsider their approach to online advertising.

Written while listening to Tchaikovsky on Songza.

27 Responses

  1. Anonymous Troll

    Lowery is a pirate by his own definition and standards.

    • David c lowery

      That makes no sense. Now say something libelous about groove shark so we can figure out who you are.

    • David c lowery

      That makes no sense. Now say something libelous about groove shark so we can sue Paul for your IP address.

    • John Eppstein

      I have never heard such outrageously unbelievable nonsense in my life. Of course, what can one expect from a self-proclaimed troll?

      • Visitor

        “I have never heard such outrageously unbelievable nonsense in my life.”
        Guess you haven’t read his other posts…

      • Visitor

        Outrageous? You mean hilarious. One of them implies defamation and the other implies libel in defense. lolz

  2. Visitor

    “So who’s the bigger pirate: Kim Dotcom, or Google?”
    The jury’s still out on that one.
    But everybody deserves a second chance, and Mr. Dotcom is welcome at the table if he has anything to offer without breaking the laws.
    However, MEGA will end like MegaUplad — and soon — if he just wants to take the pirate throne from Google.
    And I’m afraid his fans at Gizmodo are right when they describe MEGA as a weapon aimed at musicians, writers and other right holders:
    But come on Mr. Dotcom, prove us all wrong!

  3. FarePlay

    Well isn’t this getting interesting. Talk about damage control pr, Dotcom certainly has a flair for “deconstruction”.
    I call on every musician with an internet connection to communicate and support us in turning the heat way up on the travesty of US advertising on these sites that provide free file sharing with “unreasonable” numbers of take-down notices.

    • Visitor

      “support us in turning the heat way up on the travesty of US advertising on these sites that provide free file sharing with “unreasonable” numbers of take-down notices.”
      Wouldn’t Google itself be one of these sites?
      Google not only explicitly shows its users where to find illegal files, it also actively and aggressively encourages its users to commit crime:
      Here’s what Google suggests when I type Photoshop in YouTube’s search field:
      ‘photoshop cs6 free download’
      photoshop cs6 serial number
      Here’s what they suggest when I type Microsoft Word in YouTube’s search field:
      ‘microsoft word 2010 free download full version’
      And when it comes to a ‘unreasonable numbers of take-down notices’, wouldn’t you then agree that a couple of millions per week seem pretty unreasonble?
      (Google do admit that they link to millions of criminal sites each week. Source:

      • Visitor

        So perfectly odd that this comment is ending up on a post talking about Kim Dotcom and Google, or perhaps this is the perfect place….
        Who knows where this journey will take us if we “seriously” start down this path. In addition to what is clearly illegal activity, there is an enormous grey area of questionable activity that permeates the internet.
        Agree with me or not, I believe regulations are required to protect everyone’s rights on the internet. This is where the friction happens, because people have different priorities.
        What Google wants, what Spotify wants, what Live Nation wants, what musicians want are all different.
        I, like David Lowery, Paul Resnikoff and others have spent thousands of hours on the court with this debate.
        As a young man my life was all about music, not just as a fan, but as part of a community.
        Where will we gather in the future? What is going to replace the record store? What is going to replace the bookstore? I for one don’t want to live in a world of cyber-isolation; headphones, cell phones, texting, e-mail, facebook; ONLY.
        Hell yeah, I’m a dinosaur!! I will fight to keep the light on for as long as I can.
        Will Buckley, founder, FarePlay

        • Visitor

          What kind of dinosaur? One that works with others or one that eats babies?

        • Visitor

          “What Google wants, what Spotify wants, what Live Nation wants, what musicians want are all different.”
          And that’s how it should be. Diversity and freedom are essential values to most of us. But my freedom stops where yours begin.
          Now, I seriously dislike Spotify and wish it would die, but the huge difference between Spotify and Google is that I can choose not to give my work away to Spotify.
          With Google, I don’t have that choice. They just take what they want and make money off of it, while they fight like 24/7 to protect their own Intellectual Property.
          “What is going to replace the record store?”
          I hope we already have that replacement in iTunes — or something very much like it. Though I would prefer a less Americanized version without the censorship. Ulysses is not and never will be porn, for instance.
          “What is going to replace the bookstore”
          I’ll do what I can to prevent it’s going to be Google’s Scanned Library of Stolen Books… Again, I would love a non-censured version of iTunes.

  4. TLJ

    As to who is the bigger pirate, it (among other things) depends on the context. Dotcom is of course, but for the sake of argument let’s say he starts giving money to artists. To artists, Google might then be the bigger pirate, but to a legitimate website owner like me, Dotcom now makes me the victim by replacing legitimate ad code on my site with his own displays to line his own pockets and the pockets of artists.
    Ironically, artists participating in Dotcom’s new venture then become contributors to and profit from the siphoning of my revenue away from me, much like Levi’s and the advertisers David Lowery is focused on shaming (which I applaud). While what Google is doinig may be wrong, what Dotcom wants to do is still wrong, it just changes who the victims are from artists to publishers.

    • Visitor

      “As to who is the bigger pirate [Google vs. Kim Dotcom], it (among other things) depends on the context”
      And when it comes to money, nobody probably benefits more from piracy than Google.

  5. Casey

    Hasn’t Google helped Dotcom in his legal case? Pretty sure they have. This is a back stab. I wouldn’t want to be the one back stabbing Google.

    • Visitor

      “I wouldn’t want to be the one back stabbing Google”
      Neither would I.
      They’ll do anything in and out of court to protect their Intellectual Property.