If you’ve been illegally downloading movies, music, software, e-books, pr0n or anything else from the Internet’s various file sharing cyber-locker services like Megaupload or Filesonic—and you know who you are—then I hope you got your fill, because you can pretty kiss those days goodbye.
After the arrest in New Zealand last week of German-born Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (AKA Kim Schmitz), several—most—of the file-sharing businesses are opting to close suddenly or greatly modifying their business models. Although Anonymous rallied to defend Kim Dotcom (who’s more than just a bit of a freak) taking down the websites of CBS, Universal Music, the U.S. Department of Justice, RIAA.org, MPAA.org, the U.S. Copyright Office), Hadopi (France’s copyright-enforcement agency), Warner Music Group, BMI and the FBI, over the weekend many—most—of the companies who provide server space for much of the world’s digital piracy have suddenly ceased doing business or are restricting their domains from US visitors. Less cautious companies have merely dropped money-making affiliate programs that encourage top pirates and leave them more open to prosecution:
From Oh No They Didn’t:
What are they closing these programs?
Most filesharing hosts have legalspeak in their Terms of Service that make users/uploaders responsible for all uploaded content, instead of the host itself. The monetary incentives offered to uploaders from affiliate schemes could potentially give them massive legal problems.
Due to the Megaupload case (as well as Hotfile & Rapidshare) it has been shown that these Terms of Service loopholes are not considered valid by the USA / FBI. What the authorities dislike more than rights infringement, is people earning money from rights infringement.
Megaupload is said to have had more than 1 billion visitors, more than 150 million users and 50 million daily visitors. The service was said to account for 4% of Internet traffic alone and Kim Dotcom is apparently worth half a billion dollars. If they can take down a guy twice as rich as Mitt Romney, they can take down anybody.
SOPA and PIPA might have been DOA, but it’s no surprise whatsoever that the Obama administration has opted to pay its debt to Hollywood by going after the file-sharing services. Of course it was just a matter of time, and that time is now, I suppose. It was inevitable. What IS surprising is that it was allowed to flourish this long!
It will certainly be interesting to see where this goes next.
Thank you Mr. Steven Daly of New York City, New York!