Why MegaUpload, And Who’s Next?

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jollyroger   Why MegaUpload, And Whos Next?In the middle of some very aggressive anti-SOPA/PIPA protests, the feds managed to prove that they don’t need to pass such a bill to pull the plug on a certain internet website. The casualty this in this instance was long-time file sharing giant MegaUpload (along with the entire “Mega” network of sites). All that’s left to ponder now is why it happened and what site may get hit next.

Kim Dotcom was pulled out of the “panic room” of his home and had over $8.8 million on assets seized on Thursday. You knew that though. You’ve heard the story already. You’re all about protecting free internet and ensuring that these major sites don’t get shut down. But let’s slow down for just a moment. Are you sure?

Piracy is without a doubt a major problem and will continue to be into 2012. Dotcom is estimated to have costed copyright holders a good $500 million in damages as he smoothly raked in a good $42 million just in 2010. MegaUpload was a site that made money by offering you a subscription-based “locker” for all of your data and files. It was the obvious choice when compared to sites like RapidShare as it was faster, looked nicer, and was just more user-friendly and easy to work with. I used MegaUpload a lot. I actually had my own lifetime account. The life of that account is now over.

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megaupload receipt   Why MegaUpload, And Whos Next?

MegaUpload, as any other file-sharing service ends up doing, was host to tons of cracked software, pirated movies, music, and other media that we seem to take for granted. Again, such is the sad consequence of being a free site of its size. For years, MegaUpload pulled content, cooperated with groups like Universal Music, etc. As of recently, their behavior had become so lax that some would suggest they are cooperating with pirates and almost encouraging this type of content on their network. Why?

Well, because people want pirated content. When you have something people want, it gets you traffic. Traffic makes you money. Check this press release here to read that information straight from the fingertips of the fed. What is being alleged is that MegaUpload cooperated with users who uploaded such content and did their part to help “hide” and “manipulate the perception” of content.

Let’s take a step outside of the SOPA box for a moment and realize that this behavior (though alleged) is illegal and does need to be stopped if we want to preserve open internet in the long run. Deading SOPA isn’t about allowing every user of the internet to download free movies as they choose, it’s about empowering us to freely share information without these harsh constrictions.

I’m personally involved in affiliate marketing and internet marketing in general. I know that a lot of these free uploading sites do a lot of seedy, shady things in the backend to ensure that their bandwidth costs are being paid for, tenfold maybe. Mr. Dotcom is hardly the 99% himself and the only reason you’ve got in giving him the benefit of the doubt is because, well, he hasn’t been proven guilty yet. He is an innocent man as it stands.

cybercrime   Why MegaUpload, And Whos Next?

News hit the net the same day that rap producer Swizz Beatz was officially named the company’s new CEO. MegaUpload has received cosigns from huge names like Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, and more. With that being said, the real star of this “Mega Conspiracy” as it is being called isn’t MegaUpload at all, it is MegaVideo.

MegaVideo is MegaUpload’s little rendition of a tube site. When users upload digital video files or movies, not only are they uploaded so that you can send out your MegaUpload link, but they are also sent to MegaVideo where they can be instantly streamed in their huge index of videos. This is what really set MegaUpload apart from RapidShare, MediaFire, and other file hosts. MegaVideo was well-known for harboring full DVD rips and television series. The videos were being monetized by “content lockers” (those annoying popover ads that force you to perform an action before you can “unlock” the video) and MegaVideo was a big attraction of Mega’s ad platform.

To put it plainly, MegaUpload was getting a little too flagrant with the infringement and piracy. There’s a line to be drawn, one that websites like ThePirateBay seem to be working harder to run away from every day, and more could have been done to make this better on MegaUpload’s end.

megaupload car   Why MegaUpload, And Whos Next?

Now with that being said, I don’t understand why I’m seeing other blogs call services like Dropbox, SugarSync, SoundCloud, and Grooveshark into the spotlight. These sites are not going to be targeted, because they are quality services that aren’t waving their hands and begging to be caught.

If I had to throw my prediction into the mix, I’m saying that the most likely is HulkShare. HulkShare is the music equivalent to MegaVideo, narrowly specific to the hip-hop and mixtape genre. Late last year, many hip-hop blogs (such as OnSmash) were seized in the same way MegaUpload was just recently. The great majority of them used HulkShare almost exclusively. HulkShare is gaining popularity very quickly and their upload-for-pay model where they cram direct stream pages with ads may not sit too well. We’ll see. A single 50 Cent song is cited in the Justice Department’s complaint with MegaUpload, so let’s keep that in mind.

Before I close here, you probably already know about the “internet hacker backlash” against the the FBI, New Zealand, etc. If you’re living under a rock though, guess who was involved?

Anonymous Suit Logo   Why MegaUpload, And Whos Next?

Anonymous targeted the DoJ, RIAA, MPAA, and others on the list of acronyms who you really shouldn’t press your luck with. They did their usual (a DDoS lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days). They even tricked others into unwillingly participating. You guys should already know how I feel about this group by now, and I’ll spare you a rant and just include a quote from my related article:

At best, Anonymous is a group of troublesome trolls and hackers who seem to scapegoat current events and search for an excuse to cause problems.

If you want to have your issues (the issue of blocking SOPA, free internet, etc.) taken seriously, handle it the mature way. A few DDoS attacks never made a difference and this type of behavior is what is eventually going to put us in the line of an even more sheltered position on the web.

Image Credit: TechCrunch

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43 Comments -

David Eason

While I don’t disagree with much of what you said, I wonder where the pirates go after all the sites similar to MegaUpload are shut down. Would they not go to legitimate backup sites such as Dropbox, SugarSync, etc.? So if I were using one of these sites as a primary backup, it seems worth pondering that perhaps one day the amount of copyrighted material dwarfs the amount of legitimate backups on those legitimate sites, and so those backups are at risk. A case against personal use of the cloud, I think, as well as a case for Dropbox and Sugarsync etc. to monitor the uploaded files very carefully.

Craig Snyder

Surely, but you’ve got to admit that it’d be a much more difficult alternative. Public Dropbox folders have some pretty tight bandwidth limitations, and where are the pirates benefiting? MegaUpload and other file hubs are often used by pirates because they know that they can make money by uploading and distributing the content. The only way to make money through a method such as uploading your files directly to a SugarSync or Dropbox folder (which then, what happens when you run out of single-system storage?) is to present them to your audience by then creating your own personal website where you distribute them. Then, you can put all the malware, ads, and other garbage you want.

I don’t think your average pirate wants to take on that liability, though. Torrents are going to be in for a long time.

anon

You think pirates make money?

You clearly no nothing about the piracy world.

All of the comments here show how clueless you guys are.

Craig Snyder

Can only shake my head.

Jacob Lewis

You are a fool then. If you think this will do ANYTHING to slow any of us down, you are wrong. If you think this will do ANYTHING to boost the original owners profits you are WRONG. If you think anyone will now go O, Megaupload is down I better go to Wal-Mart it proves you are a fool. This hurt more legitimate users then it did pirates, and really just made now broken links annoying to filter, and if you support this I pity you.

I have spent the last hour looking for a specific older xbox dashboard update that is Freeware and legal to download (Microsoft only ever host the most current dashboard), yet everywhere it is hosted now just shows the crappy department of justice seal.

If you want to have the great firewall like China then move there don’t bring it here…
IF YOU DEFEND THE ACTIONS TO SHUT THESE SITES DOWN THEN YOU FIGHT LIBERTY AND FREEDOM.

James Bruce

Some do, obviously. At least, the guys who owned megaupload did. Though the actual people who pirate things, and upload to the community in return РI agree, they dont make money. 

DaveTheCompGuy

So… if I put drugs in a bus locker, take money from you and hand you the key… does that mean the owners of that bus locker are at fault? ¬†Megaupload wasn’t in the business of sharing illegal files any more than Greyhound is in the business of selling drugs. ¬†They were a middleman… and the RIAA etc. went after them because they’ve had almost zero success going after the actual individuals sharing those files. ¬†And file-sharing laws vary widely from country to country – shutting them down in the US is one thing, but shutting them down worldwide is something quite different. ¬†I’m not in the US, and I’m sick of them acting as a policeman everywhere in the world.

Chris Hoffman

To be fair, it’s alleged that the MegaUpload people basically encouraged piracy. I don’t know if you’ve seen the alleged emails, but they’re pretty damning.

James Bruce

Something about paying the most prolific full quality DVD uploaders… 

Craig Snyder

Not a good comparison to the MegaUpload issue, in my opinion. MegaUpload was in the business of file sharing, and it was a business that they either couldn’t or wouldn’t handle responsibly. The content being stored on their servers is the responsibility of them. Do the users hold liability? Well sure, but it’s not an issue of, “Hey, you uploaded it, your fault.” You don’t neglect and turn a blind eye to the problem. You don’t encourage users to upload this content so that you can continue to generate ad revenue and consistent traffic. You go about your business the right way and you function in the same way that other file-sharing sites who aren’t being targeted, such as MediaFire, are doing (though I won’t be surprised at all if any of today’s “safe sites” are attacked tomorrow). Does MediaFire have pirated movies and albums on their service? Sure they do. But according to the feds, apparently they’ve done enough to handle it in a way that won’t merit a raid like this. Something tells me that the FBI didn’t just throw a dart at a board where it landed on MegaUpload. It could be the fact of how publicly they’ve come out in either serious or sarcastic support of pirating, or how they continued to LOL internally about it.

I think we all take for granted how much we’re able to “get away with” on the web, as controlled as that sounds. A lot of us don’t even realize anymore, as we’re downloading that DVD rip, that what we’re doing is actually pretty unfair to companies. That’s both our fault for becoming that way, and the fault of major governments for allowing it to spin out of control in the first place. Some of us are conditioned to think that we’re granted the right to download “illegal” content, for some reason.

In respect to your comment about the US regulating worldwide, that’s not entirely the case. That’s why certain sites still thrive. Make a file-hosting website in a company with no US extradition and excercise this same behavior and you’ll get away with it, probably. The US had good pull on MegaUpload because their domain name was on a TLD owned by the United States, and they had servers that were leased in Virginia.

Pat

   What if Greyhound decided to get a lot more lockers- more than the number of bus seats available.  And suppose they  hung advertisements in those lockers.  Suppose they paid incentives to the users who put more materials into more lockers.  Suppose they also provided tools for buyers to select the best key so they could get their drug of choice without contacting the person who filled the locker.
    Although Megaupload is not sharing illegal files, they certainly are not innocent, and neither am I or most of us here.
   I do agree with you about the RIAA etc. pushing their weight around, especially abroad.  Here in the US, I can get drunk and run someone over with my huge, overpriced SUV and suffer fewer penalties than I would for downloading copyrighted movie torrents.  Our priorities are disturbing.
No flame intended, just exploring different points of view.

WB

The difference is that Megaupload knowing broke the law.

Mulder

“Dotcom is estimated to have costed copyright holders a good $500 million
in damages”

Really? According to whom, and how did they arrive at that figure?

Taking the wildly inflated claims of the RIAA, MPAA and the DoJ as fact is an exercise in wishful thinking. By their logic, each “pirated” song or movie means they lost far more money than the actual price of the song, or movie ticket. What they’re claiming is that the value of that item somehow increased several thousand times simply for the act of not buying it the first time.

There’s no doubt that piracy is taking place, but the question is whether or not it’s actually causing any economic harm; so far there’s no objective evidence that supports that argument. Even if there were, that’s no reason to create laws that cater to the desires of a specific industry and give yet more tools to federal agencies that will certainly be abused.

In addition, the fact that former Senator Chris Dodd is the CEO of the MPAA and admitted to bribing members of Congress to get this legislation fast-tracked into approval speaks volumes about who are the real criminals.

Shanjoel

Very well put Mulder! Perhaps the real question for many might be; when is the WWW being shut down?

James Bruce

Spot on. It’s a BS number made up by people who count their change in the millions.¬†

mvario

 Good call, Mulder.  It amazes me how some folks never question those MPAA/RIAA estimates.

Suhel

what about Pirate bay and other torrent sites? why were they not closed? why only MEGAUPLOAD? why? why? this is so pathetic. It was my favorite site  :(

LEGION_99

 SOPA Author Caught Infringing, Feels Above the Law he Pushes on the Proles

Rep. Smith’s comment seems slightly misleading, given that the bill contains many provisions that are equally punitive to American businesses and individuals as they are to foreign ones. ¬†And there’s a strong irony in his hardline towards copyright infringement as the office of Rep. Smith was itself recently caught by the blog¬†Vice¬†stealing content.¬†

JonOnNaDL

Because you are obviously not smart enough to read, or to process information as it comes to you.

James Bruce

Just for the record, this is the viewpoint of one lone writer, and not representative of MakeUseOf as a whole. Some of us support the actions of Anonymous wholeheartedly, and the plight to keep the internet free from the corrupt US government and immoral super-rich corporate entities. 

LEGION_99

eloquently said James Bruce

Aibek

I second that

samrudh

hey james are you writing this because you think ananymos will hack this site 

James Bruce

No, I wrote it because I approve of what they do, as do a lot of other authors here. 

Craig Snyder

The fact that you’ve even got that in your head reinforces a lot of what I’ve said in the past.

LEGION_99

Rep. Lamar Smith feels he’s above the laws he’s looking to subject his lowly proles to.[Image Source: Lamar Smith]

While Rep. Smith’s office has tried to keep this offense quiet, by offering a newer, cleaner version of the Representative’s webpage,¬†Vice¬†was able to locate older version using web tools like the WayBack Engine. ¬†

Anonymous

THIS IS THE NEW WORLD ORDER

Karen Willey

When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.

M.S. Smith

I’m surprised at how shocked and angry people are over this.

Oh, sure, there was legitimate files on MegaUpload. But when has that ever mattered one bit in regards to a criminal case? If you’re running a legitimate autobody shop but dismantle stolen vehicles on the side, the fact you run a legitimate business doesn’t protect you from your illegitimate one.

And it’s not like this was some plucky little rebel, either. Most of the site’s employees were making huge amounts of money. Kim Dotcom was living it up in grand style. I’m guessing he ran the site so he could park another Mercedes in his gigantic estate, not¬†because¬†he held fanatic ideals about the freedom of information.

I simply can’t find any reason to be sympathetic to him, except for one: the potential jail sentence he faces is¬†ridiculous, and a symbol of the absurd level of power corporations have these days.

Jeremy

This article is uninformed and seems poorly researched. Have you evern read what is the SOPA/PIPA bills?

Anonymous

yes jeremy i¬†believe we all have but you. that’s why this article is up.here’s a link for you and a pdf from the library of congress on the bill,but i have a good feeling that you lack the foresight¬†or the reading ability to be able to finish reading this bill. Maybe after a few weeks that it will take you, you can come back and make an informed and educated comment.

sincerely yours lmao

Craig Snyder

This article isn’t evern about SOPA/PIPA, it is about MegaUpload and why it was taken down. If you’d like to point out the specifics of what strikes you as uninformed or under-researched, I’d be glad to clarify for you.

JonOnNaDL

I love how you equate anyone who fights back, ala Anonymous, as a shill for the “other side.”

Anonymous

who else is there??

Craig Snyder

Fight back? What are we fighting back against here? Are we fighting back against the fed pulling down a site that was polluted with pirated content and made millions for arrogant and irresponsible owners?

I generally do see Anonymous as the “other side” for reasons I’ve explained briefly in this article and in another. Not everyone, though.

Anonymous

sorry Craig Snyder for a comment i directed to you. i hope you can accept my apology. 

Morphy

It appears that megaupload was also guilty of trying to take their humungous profits and return some to the artists.. megabox..

Craig Snyder

I’ve seen this story/rumor and can only laugh. Let’s assume for a moment that this MegaBox website really was a plan for the near future. Let’s then assume that some big wig company apparently saw it as a threat.

It doesn’t change the fact that they were incentivizing the uploading of and profiting from pirated content on their website.

mvario

While I agree with much of what you have said, I think the Megaupload takedown was as much about timing (and politics) as it was about target. I think most of are acquainted with the Dodd/MPAA backlash against the Obama administration in response to the President’s public opposition to SOPA/PIPA.¬† The timing of the Megaupload takedown and arrests was a political message to Hollywood that the Obama administration was still on their side.

Shakir1989

The people with power value money more than human life. Kim gets 50 years for fraud etc. Life sentence is only half. Ridiculous.

Smith

mega upload shut down didnt brew as much controversy as it was supposed too . people will soon forget the entire fiasco and will move on to better options like http://www.tawkle.com. you should all try it out . its unlimited

IgnoranceShield

I think this article perpetuates ignorance much farther than Annon ever could. You are defending copyright holders, NOT the artist. The system is already set up to scam writers, songwriters, and even BLOGGERS out of the money that they could potentially be making. Granted the DoS attacks have and will do nothing to change things, at least they are out there doing SOMETHING, while ignorant jackasses sit behind their keyboards writing about how wrong the “pirates” are. I would inspect your system a bit closer to see exactly who the real shrouded thieves are. I could rant on about snot nose bloggers that have no grip on reality, and believe every piece of media trash that they shove down your throats. I will just include a well known idiom that is constantly taken for granted.

“Ignorance is bliss.”

Wake up, they are going to take your rights away some day, exactly as you are asking them to do. Way to police yourself derived from pure fear.

internet online shop

Unquestionably consider that which you said. Your favourite justification seemed to be at the internet the easiest factor to have in mind of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while other folks think about worries that they just don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the highest and also defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , other people could take a signal. Will probably be again to get more. Thank you