Kim Dotcom has hit on a wizard wheeze to make money from his new file-locker service.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, he wants to use software which hijacks all the adverts your browser sees and replaces them with his own.
If he gets away with it his Mega file-sharing service could cannibalise the revenues of other online businesses.
On the plus side, Megabox will be designed to let musicians and other artists cut out traditional intermediaries such as record labels and instead get paid to provide their wares through his website.
But Dotcom has a plan where users of the site could get all that content for free if they agree to download a refined version of “Megakey”.
Megakey was software that originally debuted on Megaupload in 2010 and replaces at least some advertisements on any websites members visited with ads served up by Mega.
At the moment it is not illegal. Ad-blocking software has been around for a while, but the idea of software that replaces ads with others and effectively diverts revenue from websites might be considered a foul.
Under copyright law, website owners have exclusive rights to their web property and can decide how it looks, including which ads display on their web pages.
Megakey might violate a website owner’s intellectual property rights.
Dotcom has not commented on the ethics and implications of Megakey. It is possible that if he plays this card he is going to fast find himself out of friends.
So far, Dotcom has managed to attract a fair bit of sympathy for the way that the US and New Zealand governments illegally colluded to arrest him, but the feeling is that Megakey might blow that for him and get him in even more copyright trouble.
While Ad-blocking software is one thing, pinching other people’s hard work for your own profits is going to make you the bad guy.
The only thing the plan has going for it is that users would need to give permission before it could be installed on their computers.
Many internet users seeking free music may not be too concerned if Dotcom annoys website owners, but it could create some interesting problem if the idea spreads. What if cash strapped newspapers adopted the scheme and soon everyone was stealing each other’s adverts?
You would end up with several different ad-serving programs at war with each other with the battlefield on users’ computers.