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 wasand 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.
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.
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.
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 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