"Google, Facebook, Twitter, I ask you for help. We are all in the same DMCA boat. Use my patent for free. But please help fund my defence": Kim Dotcom. Photo: Reuters
Internet mogul Kim Dotcom says he may take legal action against Twitter, Google and Facebook for infringing copyright on a security measure he claims he invented.
Dotcom, who is on bail in New Zealand as US authorities seek his extradition in the world's biggest copyright case, said he invented "two-factor authentication", which many major sites have adopted as a security feature.
Twitter became the latest major player to introduce the measure this week following a series of cyber attacks that saw hackers take over the accounts of high-profile targets and send out fake tweets.
"Twitter introduces two-step-authentication. Using my invention. But they won't even verify my Twitter account?!," Dotcom tweeted.
"Google, Facebook, Twitter, Citibank, etc. offer two-step-authentication. Massive IP [intellectual property] infringement by US companies. My innovation. My patent," he added.
To back his claim, the 39-year-old posted a US patent describing the authentication process filed in 1998 by Kim Schmitz - Dotcom's name before he legally changed it - and published in 2000.
Dotcom said he had never sought to enforce copyright on his invention but was now reconsidering in light of the US case accusing him of masterminding massive online piracy through his now-defunct Megaupload file-sharing site.
"I never sued them. I believe in sharing knowledge and ideas for the good of society. But I might sue them now cause of what the US did to me," he said.
But he said a more productive approach would be if the tech giants helped cover his legal bills to fight prosecution under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA), which he estimated would exceed $US50 million.
"Google, Facebook, Twitter, I ask you for help. We are all in the same DMCA boat. Use my patent for free. But please help fund my defence," he tweeted.
"All of our assets are still frozen without trial. Defending our case will cost $US50m+. I want to fight to the end because we are innocent."
The authentication process works by sending a text message containing a verification code to the user's mobile phone when they login, which must be entered to gain access to the account.
The US Justice Department and FBI want Dotcom to face charges of racketeering, fraud, money-laundering and copyright theft in a US court, which could see him jailed for up to 20 years.
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