Megaupload: Another Mole Down The Hole

By utterly amazing coincidence, ahem, just as the US Congress is considering Sopa and Pipa, cloud locker service Megaupload gets closed down and its top executives arrested and refused bail.  The timing is of course important, but nature of the media industries’ latest scalp is even more intriguing.  Megaupload, along with Rapidshare, Filestube and other such services, has been more than a thorn in the side of media businesses, it has been making tens (perhaps hundreds) of millions of dollars of annual revenue by essentially sticking the middle finger up at copyright owners.

Megaupload’s closure has wreaked the wrath of the hacker community with Anonymous taking down various sites in retaliation.  But Anonymous’s anger is misjudged.  This is no blow against Internet Users’ rights, and Megaupload is no evangelist for the hacker community.  Napster’s Shawn Fanning thought he was changing the world, the Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde thought he was leading a revolution in copyright.  But Megaupload’s Kim Schmitz (aka Kim Dotcom) had no such ideals, for him it was all about the cash.  Just take a look at the opulent excess of his mansion and fleet of luxury cars with registration plates such as ‘Mafia’ and ‘CEO’.   Schmitz earned his wealth not just through advertising but also by charging users premium fees for better download speeds, thus charging people to download illegal content.

Megaupload et al are an interesting anachronism in the digital piracy landscape.  The overriding trend has been for piracy destinations to get more sophisticated and more difficult to tackle each time the media industries take a step forward.  Think darknets, encrypted P2P applications, anonymous networks etc.  Commercial locker services though are easy targets, typically with central servers and clearly defined commercial operations.  If anything, it is surprising that it has taken so long to get Megaupload taken down.

But as with any piracy victory for the media companies, the sweet taste of triumph will be short lived.  Close down one upload site and another one will arise.  In fact there are already alternative IP addresses for Megaupload circulating around Twitter.

So Megaupload’s takedown is simultaneously a landmark victory and just another furry head smacked downwards in the never ending game of digital-piracy-whack-a-mole.

 

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5 thoughts on “Megaupload: Another Mole Down The Hole

  1. Pingback: Understanding PIPA / SOPA « millsworks

  2. It sucks for the people storing legitimate files on Megaupload, but there’s no question that the site (and its sister site, Megavideo) were being heavily used to store and trade pirated content – and that the staff at Megaupload were aware of this.

    The tech community protesting SOPA should really be praising the take-down of Megaupload, since it only happened after overwhelming evidence and a co-ordinated take-down effort in multiple countries. It’s how anti-piracy efforts should proceed.

  3. I think its a shame that Megaupload has been taken down. So what does this mean for YouTube and Soundcloud? i know theres infringing content being shared on there? I think the media industries need to realize that things have changed. As computing power increases, piracy isnt going to stop. Artists are some of the most creative people around, they need to stop thinking about making money from recorded music and get creative and becone entertainment entities. Times have changed, so we have to. All Megaupload done was fulfil a need that clearly millions of people want. Is it consumers fault the media industries wont keep up with technology?

  4. When will big media companies learn that the answer to piracy is to make the legal option more convenient?

    I love buying video games on Steam. It’s easy, the downloads are fast, and I take comfort in the fact that my money is supporting developers. Not to mention the frequent sales.

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