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Millions of links suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
January 19, 2012 12:41 PM   Subscribe

Megaupload has been shut down. Four people, including the founder Kim Schmitz, have been arrested for violation of piracy laws. Two more are named as defendants in the indictment. 18 domain names have been seized, warrants have been issued in 9 countries. Given that Megaupload took the fight to Universal Music Group in December and is on record as being vehemently against SOPA, one wonders if this crackdown is a retaliation of some sort. Given that industry insiders accuse MegaUpload of being responsible for at least $500 Million in lost revenue for the music industry, it's ironic that its current CEO is Swizz Beats, noted major-label rapper and hip-hop producer.
posted by Phire (334 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
Tangentially related: Supreme Court rules Congress can re-copyright public domain works.

So how about that copyright reform, guys?
posted by Phire at 12:42 PM on January 19, 2012 [18 favorites]


I have the ugly feeling that this is going to set a precedent like the Napster case did.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:47 PM on January 19, 2012


Now who do I steal all my shit from?
posted by Fizz at 12:47 PM on January 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


So we didn't really need SOPA/PIPA, right?
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:49 PM on January 19, 2012 [16 favorites]


There is no irony in Swizz Beats being its CEO. DJ Drama and his apprentice Don Cannon were arrested for selling mixtape CDs which they made with the cooperation of artists and labels. Of course, the RIAA were not swayed:
Brad A. Buckles, executive vice president for anti-piracy at the Recording Industry Association of America, said, “A sound recording is either copyrighted or it’s not.”
Hip-hop is more closely associated with grey-area music than most genres. At least the Beastie Boys won their sampling lawsuit, but that's a snippet vs. whole tracks and albums (and even discographies).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:50 PM on January 19, 2012


I'm curiously torn about MegaUpload. I know of a number of blogs that host free files on it to save themselves bandwidth. At the same time, I work for a company that produces training videos. There's a 4-8 hour turnaround time between us releasing a new training video, and it being posted on MegaUpload. Every week, we have an intern tasked with finding all the copies that have been posted and sending the individual takedown requests.

I can't help but think that MegaUpload's agressive monetization of the download process (constantly upselling people for high-speed downloading, etc) made it a more palateable target than a service like DropBox, which probably hosts just as much illegal content but is focused on "File storage as a service" rather than "getting people to download things while looking at ads."
posted by verb at 12:50 PM on January 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Is MegaUpload a Dropbox-alike or a Piratebay-alike? If it's the former I can see some fireworks ahead.
posted by Artw at 12:50 PM on January 19, 2012


Random question: whatever happened to YouSendIt? YSI was the first file sending service I remember becoming really popular and it seemed like YSI links were everywhere. Then all of a sudden it's all Rapidshare this, Megaupload that. Mediafire more recently. It looks like YSI is still around. But I guess they're the 3dfx of the file sending industry.
posted by kmz at 12:51 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh shit, I hope that this BIT doesn't result in a TORRENT of tears from Hollywood.

I love Hollywood, really.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:52 PM on January 19, 2012


Shutting down Megaupload because you can find lots of illegal movies and music in there is like shutting down New York because you could find lots of illegal guns and drugs in there.

With the only difference that music and movies don't kill.

posted by Rhaomi at 12:53 PM on January 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's more Dropbox-alike.
posted by pwally at 12:53 PM on January 19, 2012


See also: The Mega Song, (Wiki entry).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:53 PM on January 19, 2012


Well, YouSendIt had a cap on file sizes, a cap on downloading speed, and if you got an account with them they spammed you constantly. I still get emails from them occasionally.

With MegaUpload I would get 3-400 kb/s consistently even on a basic account.
posted by Phire at 12:54 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the Hacker News thread that was mentioned in a previous post, the reason MU was taken down despite adhering to (most) of the DMCA rules:
[...] when notified by a rights holder that a file contained infringing content, the indictment alleges that the conspirators would disable only a single link to the file, deliberately and deceptively leaving the infringing content in place to make it seamlessly available to millions of users to access through any one of the many duplicate links available for that file.
posted by fight or flight at 12:54 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fizz: Now who do I steal all my shit from?

See Wikipedia: Comparison of file hosting services
posted by filthy light thief at 12:54 PM on January 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


Rhaomi: With the only difference that music and movies don't kill.

Because the only crimes that matter are the ones that kill. Everything else is just a flesh wound, you'll get better.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:56 PM on January 19, 2012


[...] when notified by a rights holder that a file contained infringing content, the indictment alleges that the conspirators would disable only a single link to the file, deliberately and deceptively leaving the infringing content in place to make it seamlessly available to millions of users to access through any one of the many duplicate links available for that file.

Based on my company's experience sending takedown requests, I'd say that's accurate.
posted by verb at 12:57 PM on January 19, 2012


Is MegaUpload a Dropbox-alike or a Piratebay-alike? If it's the former I can see some fireworks ahead.

It's dropbox with ads.
posted by empath at 12:58 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


when notified by a rights holder that a file contained infringing content, the indictment alleges that the conspirators would disable only a single link to the file, deliberately and deceptively leaving the infringing content in place to make it seamlessly available to millions of users to access through any one of the many duplicate links available for that file.

And god bless them for it.
posted by empath at 12:58 PM on January 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Doesn't everyone use MediaFire anyway? (Or Filesonic, Fileserve, Hotfile, Filestube, Easy Share, Bit Share, FilesTube, FilesApart etc. etc. etc.)
posted by naju at 12:59 PM on January 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm not checking at work, but out of curiosity is megaporn still up?
posted by empath at 12:59 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's dropbox with ads.

Well. It's Dropbox with ads, agressive up-sell for premium membership so you can skip the enforced ad-viewing time before your download starts, and no desktop integration. If all you use Dropbox for is dumping files into a folder and giving people public links to download them, though, they probably serve roughly the same purpose.
posted by verb at 12:59 PM on January 19, 2012


Dropbox might be the most legitimately useful utility I have for work-home productivity, short of an actual laptop. Let's not lump in Dropbox with these other services.
posted by naju at 1:01 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dropbox might be the most legitimately useful utility I have for work-home productivity, short of an actual laptop. Let's not lump in Dropbox with these other services.

How do you distinguish?
posted by empath at 1:01 PM on January 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


War on Crime, War on Drugs, War on Terror, War on Cloud?
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:01 PM on January 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


TBH I do wonder if Dropbox being quite so free with the public linking thing is going to get them into trouble eventually. On the other hand, if it;s not partcularly indexed there's no way to know what's up there.
posted by Artw at 1:01 PM on January 19, 2012


He likes DropBox.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:02 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


You use the friends-only torrent-based thing called "share".
Don't share media with people you don't know.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:02 PM on January 19, 2012


empath: "I'm not checking at work, but out of curiosity is megaporn still up?"

Doesn't look like it.
posted by fight or flight at 1:02 PM on January 19, 2012


How do you distinguish?

I don't share anything with Dropbox. It's just a folder on my work computer, and a folder on my home computer, and I can drag files there and they end up in both places.
posted by naju at 1:02 PM on January 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


Shit, I used megaupload a lot when sending (my) RAW photo files around.

On a certain level, this is like making backpacks illegal because people can fill them with bootlegs.
posted by klangklangston at 1:04 PM on January 19, 2012 [38 favorites]


It's funny; I was just talking about Dropbox vs. Megaupload/YouSendIT and others in that space yesterday before this news broke. Used to have bands I worked with sending me unmastered/unmixed tracks through these services all the time.

Who knew they were engaging with a criminal enterprise!
posted by saulgoodman at 1:04 PM on January 19, 2012


Because the only crimes that matter are the ones that kill. Everything else is just a flesh wound, you'll get better.

Point being, abruptly shutting down an entire site without warning in response to piracy is overkill. MegaUpload was the 13th-largest website in the world, and there were plenty of people relying on it for entirely legitimate reasons.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:06 PM on January 19, 2012 [25 favorites]


I guess they should have made more campaign finance contributions to the right people. Or set up a SuperPac. But wait, that would have been bribery, right?
posted by wuwei at 1:10 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


As if that will change anything. As someone who sometimes may or may not engage in piracy, I don't use Megaupload for my downloads. Then again, I don't care which service hosts the files as long as Put.io will download the links.
posted by Meathamper at 1:11 PM on January 19, 2012


I don't share anything with Dropbox. It's just a folder on my work computer, and a folder on my home computer, and I can drag files there and they end up in both places.

But you can. And lots of people do. I have a pile of copyrighted shit in a shared folder, and on my public folder.
posted by empath at 1:13 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


revenge for the SOPA hoopla, I'm sure. They want all the riff-raff to know who's boss.
posted by FireballForever at 1:14 PM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]




As if that will change anything. As someone who sometimes may or may not engage in piracy, I don't use Megaupload for my downloads.


A few people seem to be suggesting that because they don't use the site, or it wasn't well run, that this might not be a big deal. Remember that if this goes smoothly there's no reason to think they'd stop here and not target other sites offering the same kind of service.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:14 PM on January 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh, and I got tetchy about Dropbox back when they changed their TOS to say that they owned (basically) anything transmitted through them, rather than having limited licensed reproduction rights.
posted by klangklangston at 1:16 PM on January 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Other companies with the same kind of service of course including Amazon and Microsoft.
posted by Artw at 1:17 PM on January 19, 2012


But you can. And lots of people do. I have a pile of copyrighted shit in a shared folder, and on my public folder.

I'm with naju. It for some reason never even occurred to me to use Dropbox for pirating stuff. I guess because there are other avenues for this that are better?

Don't take away Dropbox! It saved me last year when my laptop bit the dust. Very important files which were updated recently (so, not quite backed up) were safe!
posted by King Bee at 1:17 PM on January 19, 2012


Is MegaUpload a Dropbox-alike or a Piratebay-alike? If it's the former I can see some fireworks ahead.

The Pirate Bay these days is basically the opposite of MegaUpload. The Pirate Bay is more or less a database of torrent files, which are files that contain checksums of content. You can't actually get the content from a torrent file, it just helps you connect to someone else who has that content and verify the data that comes back from them when they send it to you. The Pirate Bay used to also run a tracker, a server that directly coordinated communication between peers without actually being involved with hosting the content, but that was shut down a while ago. The Pirate Bay has meta data about content that can be used by people to share files, but it's not directly involved with the file sharing itself.

MegaUpload on the other hand, is/was a direct download service. Direct download sites allow people to upload content to their site, and then allow other people link to and download the content from the direct download site. More or less the same way that people upload videos to YouTube and can then link to them so that anyone else can view and download them, but with all files of any type rather than just videos. The business model for direct download sites is generally that they have tons of ads, and a premium service that gives the user faster downloads, better upload privileges, less wait time between downloads, etc. In general direct download sites only host the files, they do not directly allow searching or build a database of meta data about content like you would see at a torrent site, if that kind of thing happens it happens in forums that use links to direct download sites to host the content.

As others have mentioned in the thread, MegaUpload was just one of dozens of competing direct download sites, and unlike a torrent site like TPB there is really no reason that people using MegaUpload today can't immediately switch to one of the many similar sites tomorrow (other than losing out on their current paid premium benefits). Many of the sites and forums that used MegaUpload regularly also used other direct download services more or less interchangeably. There was almost certainly a massive amount of content that was lost due to MegaUpload being shut down, but in most cases these sorts of file hosts are not considered to be more than a temporary way to share files. Overall this is significant because MegaUpload was such a huge site and the first big direct download site to go down, but since there are so many alternatives out there and switching is so easy, it's probably not as big of a deal as a major torrent site with an established organization specific to that site getting shut down.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:18 PM on January 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


The thing is that even people who used Megaupload didn't lose anything more than access to the files already stored on the MU servers. When pirates upload their pirated files of pirate-dom tomorrow, they'll just upload them to rapidshare, or filesonic, or one of two dozen other Megaupload-ish sites. Not a single person will actually be deterred from violating copyright, they'll just violate it someplace else. And if the justice department manages to shut down every last one of the domestic fileserving sites, it still won't change a damned thing.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:19 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Those subscription based one click hosting sites have always seemed like an easy target, since everything about them is so centralized. I distribute my FTP links by carrier pigeon, since it's the only way to be safe.

"So we didn't really need SOPA/PIPA, right?"

Indeed. The old laws seem be working just fine for the powers that be.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:19 PM on January 19, 2012


On one hand, I hate the MPAA and RIAA and the obnoxious American attitude that their laws apply worldwide.

On the other hand, Kim Schmitz is an asshole.

So conflicted. Can't the whole lot of them be sent to some awful prison cell somewhere?
posted by cmonkey at 1:22 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz"

heh.
posted by Bwithh at 1:22 PM on January 19, 2012


Usenet abides.
posted by Auden at 1:23 PM on January 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


Is anyone else chilled by the fact that the FBI is able to arrest people in new Zealand, and shut down server, farms in hong kong, as well as seize domain names, not all of which presumably reside with US registrars?

Why on earth should US authorities have such global reach to enforce US laws - especially since not a thing has been proven in court yet? And when did prior restraint of speech suddenly get so easy?
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:24 PM on January 19, 2012 [50 favorites]


Why on earth should US authorities have such global reach to enforce US laws - especially since not a thing has been proven in court yet? And when did prior restraint of speech suddenly get so easy?

You better sit down for this one
posted by crayz at 1:26 PM on January 19, 2012 [28 favorites]


It says that the ones in New Zealand were arrested by local authorities, so it's probably a standard extradition kind of thing. As for the reach of US laws, yeah... That's a fuzzy one. I guess the argument is that the victims (media companies) are US based, and a lot of the downloads came from there, so their laws apply.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:28 PM on January 19, 2012


Is anyone else chilled by the fact that the FBI is able to arrest people in new Zealand

I would be if that's what happened. The FBI didn't arrest them in New Zealand, the authorities in New Zealand arrested them after, yes, a request from US authorities. That isn't actually a subtle difference. New Zealand could have refused if they felt this was a miscarriage of justice or an infringement of their sovereignty.

And when did prior restraint of speech suddenly get so easy?

This is the exact opposite of prior restraint! They aren't charged with what they may do in the future, they're being charged with what they have done in the past.
posted by Justinian at 1:30 PM on January 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


I used Megaupload at least a few times per month, and always for legal material. Hell, a lot of Android ROM developers use it or its cosuins to distribute their stuff exclusively. Also, many legal game mods and suchlike. It's used a ton by creators in that vein who's meager hosting plans for sites and forums would be crushed by the bandwidth required to distribute their popular, large files.

I'm not saying Megaupload wasn't used predominately for piracy, but it did have significant amounts of legitimate users.

The troubling thing here isn't that Megaupload was an upstanding company that got hammered, it's that the ratio of piracy:legitimacy required to shut down a site is creeping steadily down. If it's slow enough, will we be able to stop it before a line is crossed? What are we comfortable with nixing? Sites that are used 80% for piracy? How about 60%? 40%? Are we getting uncomfortable yet...?
posted by gilrain at 1:31 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is anyone else literally shocked that other countries will arrest a person at the request of another country based on allegations by that country that the person is a criminal?
posted by gagglezoomer at 1:33 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was just using it today. Did you ever hear that song they made? Jesus H. Christ. Maybe that was the last straw?
posted by stinkycheese at 1:33 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


The instant-piracy-takedown thing troubles me, but if it's true that the MU owners are guilty of money laundering, then it seems like they were just asking to get nailed. For now, I'm just assuming those are trumped-up charges, but if they're not, then this seems as much a case of good old-fashioned criminal hubris as it does anything else.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:34 PM on January 19, 2012


filthy light thief: Because the only crimes that matter are the ones that kill. Everything else is just a flesh wound, you'll get better.

Rhaomi: Point being, abruptly shutting down an entire site without warning in response to piracy is overkill. MegaUpload was the 13th-largest website in the world, and there were plenty of people relying on it for entirely legitimate reasons.

Oh, I agree. But comparing the closing of MegaUpload due to the potential for illegal file sharing to the closing of New York for the potential for murder is also overkill. I get that it's hyperbole to draw an example between digital piracy and physical harm, but the digital piracy vs physical crime jokes are old.

Anyway, People who relied on MegaUpload for legitimate purposes could have utilized multi-uploader services for hosting redundancy, or found services that were less associated with piracy.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:34 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


"So we didn't really need SOPA/PIPA, right?"

Pirate Bay is still untouchable (jurisdictionally) and that's a major part of why SOPA and PIPA have support. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
posted by naju at 1:34 PM on January 19, 2012


With the prior restraint, I was referring to shutting down the website due to accusations of infringement. Were a newspaper to be accused of libel, they wouldn't have their website shut down for a couple of years while the case went through court; they wouldn't even be prevented from publishing it.

I accept the difference that the arrests were by local authorities though. Hope any non US nationals get a chance to defend extradition thugh.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:36 PM on January 19, 2012


>>Is MegaUpload a Dropbox-alike or a Piratebay-alike? If it's the former I can see some fireworks ahead.

>It's dropbox with ads.

As an institution, it's obviously not as gleefully vicious (or, if you prefer, as Committed to the Sanctity of the Free Distribution of Copyrighted Data) as PirateBay, but, like Rapidshare, Mediafire, Filesonic, et al., it's largely a fencing operation.

Basically, they'll take down the infringing files at the specific page you point out, but leave the duplicate files untouched, and happily allow for the posting of duplicate infringing files a moment later.
posted by darth_tedious at 1:37 PM on January 19, 2012


"The troubling thing here isn't that Megaupload was an upstanding company that got hammered, it's that the ratio of piracy:legitimacy required to shut down a site is creeping steadily down. If it's slow enough, will we be able to stop it before a line is crossed? What are we comfortable with nixing? Sites that are used 80% for piracy? How about 60%? 40%? Are we getting uncomfortable yet...?"

That's a really good point. Back in pre-online days John Law wouldn't shut down the phone company because some people were scammed by fraudulent 1-800 numbers, and I'm guessing they wouldn't do it to a cell phone company today. But websites don't seem to have the same protections.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:38 PM on January 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


It says that the ones in New Zealand were arrested by local authorities, so it's probably a standard extradition kind of thing.
Yes, NZ has had an extradition treaty with the US since 1970. On principle, NZ authorities could have refused to use their cops to fulfill the request by the US if the charge in question isn't considered a serious criminal charge in New Zealand, or if they thought it was likely the suspects would be especially horribly treated by the US legal/penal system.

especially since not a thing has been proven in court yet?

You don't have to prove anything in court to have someone arrested. In this case, presumably a US grand jury (which yes, would indict a ham sandwich) sat to determine that there were reasonable grounds for the official charges needed to mount an arrest operation, but that's not proof.
posted by Bwithh at 1:38 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hope any non US nationals get a chance to defend extradition

Don't bet on it.
posted by bitmage at 1:38 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


What sucks about this (to me) are the obscure-o music blogs that have rare out of print material that was posted to MegaUpload and won't be re-uploaded.
posted by wcfields at 1:40 PM on January 19, 2012 [23 favorites]


Note, I regularly use mega upload to grab roms for my android devices; it's a standard on xda developers. While there are others, mega upload was the easiest and most reliable. And what's to stop the FBI shutting down all the others, including sugarsync, dropbox and skydrive? There's no significant technical difference in any of them except how much advertising they have and how much encryption is done server side.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:41 PM on January 19, 2012


On a certain level, this is like making backpacks illegal because people can fill them with bootlegs.

I'll go ahead and play devil's advocate here even though I hate all this stuff with a passion and I'm pretty sure it's a... what do you call it? A smokescreen in order to get the incremental stuff done?

It'd be like that except not really. With MegaUpload, there would be a much more extensive network of blackmarket bootleggers, drugrunners, and so on, to a point where this minority is significant enough to encompass a vast swathe of society. When we think of bootleggers and backpackers it's kind of ridiculous because there's like maybe a less than .001% of people who use the backpacks for drugs or pirated movies or whatever but with MegaUpload, that .001% is far greater.

This is purely speaking from experience with private sites whose primary purpose was pirating through filesharing networks who had userbases in the thousands and invitation lists far stricter than the likes of Demonoid and content release far more expansive, too. There are tens of thousands of users out there who have only ever seen Rapidshare or MegaUpload used for pirating and rarely anything else.

Again, I don't agree with this kind of crap. The future of data and information is reliant on economic models that are rapidly outpacing what the record and film industries are used to and seem obstinate to adapt to. But the backpack analogy is a straw man; it'd be a lot more accurate to compare this with gun regulation, which is why the issue is so contentious too.
posted by dubusadus at 1:42 PM on January 19, 2012


I guess what I'm saying is that the authorities usually don't punish a carrier for criminal activity that happens on their network. And on the Internet the distinction between a carrier and a service can get a bit blurry, when you've got sites used by millions of people.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:42 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Son of a bitch. I just renewed my membership to Megaupload for four years the day before yesterday. It's been invaluable to me for work and home use.
posted by Sternmeyer at 1:43 PM on January 19, 2012


The Megaupload Megasong
posted by Bwithh at 1:44 PM on January 19, 2012


With the prior restraint, I was referring to shutting down the website due to accusations of infringement.

Oh, okay. I don't think that's what "prior restraint" means, though. Prior restraint would be shutting down a website because they were accused of planning to infringe in the future, not shutting them down because they were accused of infringing in the past.

Libel isn't really a good example because that is a tort. These are criminal charges. A better analogy would be if the owners of a newspaper were charged with money laundering through the newspaper. In such a case it's likely the newspaper would be shut down while the case was adjudicated.
posted by Justinian at 1:45 PM on January 19, 2012


How about YouSendIt? Apart from being irritatingly ad-driven and trying to upsell their premium services, is YouSendIt an evil, soon-to-be-taken-down pirate's haven, too? (I'm pretty sure YouSendIt was the preferred large file swap service for the handful of musiciians that sent me stuff that way because they couldn't seem to figure out how to use FTP for some reason).
posted by saulgoodman at 1:45 PM on January 19, 2012


Back in pre-online days John Law wouldn't shut down the phone company because some people were scammed by fraudulent 1-800 numbers, and I'm guessing they wouldn't do it to a cell phone company today.

If the phone company paid kickbacks to the scammers, and responded to customer complaints by obscuring the scammers' identifying info, then I'm pretty sure that Mr. Law would indeed come knockin'.

Has anybody scanned the actual paperwork in this case yet? From the reports (and from the charges), it doesn't seem like this is a prosecution based on technology that "can" be used wrongly. It seems like there are some specific acts being alleged. Assuming that's true, we'd be talking about a backpack with arms and legs and free will.
posted by cribcage at 1:48 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


wcfields, I hear what you are saying, but those obscure-o music blogs would be better off posting a short sample (much more defensible as fair use). It's much more enjoyable tracking down obscure vinyl at indie music shops that need the business.
posted by hyperizer at 1:49 PM on January 19, 2012


I guess what I'm saying is that the authorities usually don't punish a carrier for criminal activity that happens on their network.

My understanding is that the theory of the crime is that the guys running Megaupload ceased to enjoy the protections you're talking about when they knowingly failed to adequately address infringement which was pointed out to them. For example, Youtube is not responsible if I post a video of the Super Bowl. But if the NFL contacts them and informs them of my video, they become responsible if they fail to take it down.

So Mediaupload isn't being accused solely of hosting infringing data, they are being accused of deliberately allowing that data to remain through purposefully inadequate measures to address infringement once made aware of it by the copyright holders.

That seems hard to prove to me since it requires deliberate action rather than incompetence but it's definitely not the same as being held responsible solely for hosting infringing files.
posted by Justinian at 1:50 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pleh, all the cool kids use WebDAV servers these days.
posted by LogicalDash at 1:51 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Copyright infringement is normally a tort too; here we have the FBI acting as enforcers for the content companies because they claim the numbers are big enough.

Oh and pipa/sopa would enable this sort of action directly, without it needing to meet the loss standard to make it a criminal offence; court oversight would be minimal, and any defence would be after the takedown took place. So if you don't want to see websites just literally disappear overnight because some copyright holder says so (minus the arrests and account freezes) then this should be an example of what will get a lot more common should those laws pass.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:52 PM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


What sucks about this (to me) are the obscure-o music blogs that have rare out of print material that was posted to MegaUpload and won't be re-uploaded.

Yep. I'm guessing about half of everything ever linked to in three years of Doug Schulkind's Mining the Audio Motherlode just went up in smoke.
posted by theodolite at 1:53 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


@hyperizer: I hear what you are saying, but those obscure-o music blogs would be better off posting a short sample (much more defensible as fair use). It's much more enjoyable tracking down obscure vinyl at indie music shops that need the business.
Well, yes. But that's a little like telling everybody to stop this all broadband-enabled internet nonsense and go back to 1997. Which seems a little Cnut-ish to me.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:53 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh shit, I hope that this BIT doesn't result in a TORRENT of tears from Hollywood.

Yeah. If they're not careful, soon they'll have to USE a NET to catch any money at all.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:53 PM on January 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


$500 Million in lost revenue for the music industry

That's less than the combined salaries of the top dozen executives of the Big Four Three (oh, hey, EMI is part of Warner now) record companies.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:54 PM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Basically, they'll take down the infringing files at the specific page you point out, but leave the duplicate files untouched, and happily allow for the posting of duplicate infringing files a moment later.

Part of this is basically impossible to police to a certain extent for a general purpose file host though. YouTube has enough problems detecting that an previously taken-down video has been re-uploaded with the video mirrored or other tricks, and they have full access to the content of the video. With a file host like MegaUpload, the contents of the file can be completely opaque.

For example, let's say a file sharing forum uploads a game in a rar file to MegaUpload and posts the link on their forum. Then later the copyright holder finds out about the link and requests to have the file taken down. Now, let's say MegaUpload saves themselves future headaches by deleted all links to that exact file and permanently bans the file via its checksum and size from ever being uploaded again. The file sharing forum could then just switch to uploading a password protected rar of the same game with a random password, and post the password along with the link. Now MegaUpload has no idea that it's the same game, and it's technically impossible for them to make any connection between this file and future versions with new passwords even if they do eventually find the password for this version. Many file sharing groups that post to public hosts use password protected encrypted archives for these sorts of reasons already.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:54 PM on January 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Copyright infringement is normally a tort too

They're also charged with racketeering. I have no idea if that's appropriate here since we haven't seen the evidence. But it is a "real" crime even if you think criminal copyright infringement shouldn't be.

Of course I suppose it's possible the criminal enterprise they're accused of being part of is solely that of a criminal copyright infringement ring.
posted by Justinian at 1:56 PM on January 19, 2012


From what I've read so far, the racketeering and money laundering comes from what they did with the money from mega upload - if that was obtained legally then those charges no longer apply. And proving that they don't qualify for safe harbor protection under the dmca seems far from a slam dunk to me. Happy to be shown otherwise though if more detailed information is available.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:01 PM on January 19, 2012


$500 Million in lost revenue for the music industry [...] That's less than the combined salaries of the top dozen executives of the Big Four Three (oh, hey, EMI is part of Warner now) record companies.

Not actually close to a factual statement. For example, the top 6 execs at Warner Music had a combined salary of around $7,000,000 in 2011. That's a ton of money but not remotely the level you're saying.
posted by Justinian at 2:07 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think what people are trying to get across by saying "prior restraint" isn't so much actual "prior restraint" as a more generic complaint that they have had their assets seized and their business destroyed prior to any conviction for any crime.

I know, I know, that's commonplace for many defendants, especially those accused in the "war on drugs" and letting people keep their business until they're actually convicted of something would destroy American jurisprudence, right?

But you won't see that tactic used against BoA or Goldman, no matter what they're accused of.
posted by tyllwin at 2:07 PM on January 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


Oh no, the internet is broken! Oh wait, Rapidshare's still up. All good.
posted by Theta States at 2:07 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing Lamar Smith is pleased with the timing on this.
posted by Twang at 2:08 PM on January 19, 2012


China and North Korea would seem to be reasonable places for these sites to set up soon. They are far enough out of reach and I can't see them bowing to any external law let alone those of the US.
posted by episodic at 2:08 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's much more enjoyable tracking down obscure vinyl at indie music shops that need the business.

Heh heh heh. Enjoyable? I like obscure vinyl and I do pay cash money for same (mostly local acts), but it's definitely more enjoyable to sit in my chair and download files "for freeeeee" and then have the album on my computer in five or ten minutes.

Unless you're buying new vinyl or represses, the artists responsible aren't making a thin dime when you buy obscure vinyl at indie music shops; the money goes to a) the store, and possibly b) the punter who consigned or sold the records to the store in the first place. So, ethically, no harm, no foul.

I have downloaded innumerable records I've never even seen for sale anywhere at any price, records that are all but impossible to find at any price unless you download your copy.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:09 PM on January 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


I have always wondered why states like North Korea or Iran, who have "Fuck the US" as a centerpiece of their foreign policy aren't falling all over themselves to host these fingers in the eye of the great Satan.
posted by tyllwin at 2:11 PM on January 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Not actually close to a factual statement. For example, the top 6 execs at Warner Music had a combined salary of around $7,000,000 in 2011. That's a ton of money but not remotely the level you're saying.

On the other hand, the $500 million figure is completely made up, so we're basically comparing median halfling income to the average weight of a hippogriff at this point
posted by theodolite at 2:12 PM on January 19, 2012 [36 favorites]


I know, I know, that's commonplace for many defendants, especially those accused in the "war on drugs"

Actually, it's far worse in the "war on drugs". There they'll seize your assets and force you to prove that you earned them legally rather than having to prove you earned them illegally.

I just don't see this as the same thing but I guess reasonable people can disagree. To me it's more like being accusing of running a chop shop and not being allowed to continue running your chop shop until after trial. It's not just American jurisprudence where that happens. It's pretty much everywhere.

It's true that it is mostly American companies going after sites like this but that is a function of most big media companies being American, not something intrinsic to America. If Hollywood were in London it would be British companies doing this.
posted by Justinian at 2:13 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


The only reason to shut the site down at this point is to prevent any further alleged infringement ; this isn't a court ordered shutdown due to proven past infringement or as a punishment, it's a literal prevention of future publication because it might be infringing. I'm no US lawyer, but that seems to be pretty prior restrainty to me.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:14 PM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Before Shutdown, Megaupload Ate Up More Corporate Bandwidth Than Dropbox -- "Before being shut down by the feds today over copyright infringement allegations, Megaupload was accounting for more corporate bandwidth usage than Dropbox and numerous other file-sharing services."
posted by ericb at 2:18 PM on January 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's much more enjoyable tracking down obscure vinyl at indie music shops that need the business.

I like my records as much as the next person, but there's a whole world of music online that may as well not exist in record stores. For instance, Mutant Sounds used Megaupload for a lot of the albums they posted.
posted by vathek at 2:20 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


as of, well, now, sites at justice.gov, riaa.com and universalmusic.com appear to be down.
posted by _dario at 2:21 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Looks like 4Chan is DDoSing some sites: Anonymous takes down Department of Justice, RIAA and Universal Music
posted by wcfields at 2:21 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


To me it's more like being accusing of running a chop shop

You say "chop shop." I say "legitimate salvage business, run by people not yet convicted of any wrongdoing"

But if you're the FBI, well, you've got the guns.
posted by tyllwin at 2:22 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


On a certain level, this is like making backpacks illegal because people can fill them with bootlegs.

Don't give them ideas.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 2:23 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


But if you're the FBI, well, you've got the guns.

Hey, I agree with you. I'm just saying that shutting down the website is not somehow unique to cases like this, that businesses accused of being criminal enterprises are often shut down during trial.
posted by Justinian at 2:24 PM on January 19, 2012


Man, screw this - I'm going back to using Hotline!
posted by porn in the woods at 2:28 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Looks like 4Chan is DDoSing some sites: Anonymous takes down Department of Justice, RIAA and Universal Music

Ethics aside, this is just kind of silly, because who cares whether RIAA.com is up? They're only causing grief for the IT departments of those institutions, not anyone responsible for shutting down Megaupload.
posted by theodolite at 2:29 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Building another mighty dam in the middle of the ocean again, are they?
posted by squalor at 2:43 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can't friggin believe they took down the Department of Justice web server. They are going to get so v&.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:43 PM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


They're only causing grief for the IT departments of those institutions, not anyone responsible for shutting down Megaupload.

But they are making a point worth making.
posted by episodic at 2:44 PM on January 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


I sincerely do wish they'd apply this logic to pawn shops.

I'm not sure what's more criminal, stealing people's shit, buying stolen shit, paying next to nothing for it, or selling it for almost-new prices.

But that's a legitimate business, and how could they know where the stuff comes from!
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:44 PM on January 19, 2012 [9 favorites]



They're only causing grief for the IT departments of those institutions, not anyone responsible for shutting down Megaupload.


I suspect that it will make the executive there livid, regardless of the impact. They'll see it as a breach of security and a big deal, and probably think their website is more important than it is. ;)
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:49 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


But that's a legitimate business, and how could they know where the stuff comes from!

I believe that in at least some places pawn shops are required to hold merchandise they buy for a certain period before they can sell it. At least, that's what the owner of Cookin', a used-cookware store in SF, told someone who asked her if she'd buy some of their stuff—that technically they have a pawn shop license and they don't have the space to hold non-saleable merchandise for the required period.
posted by kenko at 2:50 PM on January 19, 2012


When we think of bootleggers and backpackers it's kind of ridiculous because there's like maybe a less than .001% of people who use the backpacks for drugs or pirated movies or whatever but with MegaUpload, that .001% is far greater.

I know we're just making up numbers in this thread, but that figure is way too low. Consider this: according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (pdf), 8.9% of people aged 12 and older are current drug users. You may disagree, but I think it is safe to say that drug use is higher among those who are most likely to carry a backpack. So, think about whether high school or college kids are likely to use their backpacks to carry their drugs. Then think about the other kinds of illegal activity that are likely facilitated by backpacks, including carrying around your laptop, with which you intend to do some illegal file-sharing.

Taken all together, I'm estimating that more than 25% of all backpacks have been used for illegal activity. Clearly, backpack distributors should be shut down.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 2:50 PM on January 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


It is entirely possible at this point that the Anonymous attack on the DoJ website - never mind the others, one on a .gov site - may be classified as terrorism. The current guidelines are loose enough that it's probable that someone can find a way to classify it.

Depending on how they did it - did they use zombies as part of a botnet, for example - a lot of people could be in a lot of trouble for, basically, not having their antivirus up to date, something running on it, and being used as proxy triggers for the shotgun, and that being labeled as 'terroristic activities'.

The Anonymous response was foolish, and gives some of the people involved in this the ammo they need to not just rebuild SOPA/PIPA but add in more onerous regulations. "But look what they did to the DOJ! We need this to keep these terrorists from doing it to other government web sites? What if they do it to the IRS?"
posted by mephron at 2:52 PM on January 19, 2012


It's much more enjoyable tracking down obscure vinyl at indie music shops that need the business.

Not if what you enjoy is the actual "music" part.

Or if you live somewhere they don't quite have obscure vinyl or indie music shops to sell it in. Which is a ton of places.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 2:53 PM on January 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


Taken all together, I'm estimating that more than 25% of all backpacks have been used for illegal activity.

when I used to get high, I mostly kept my drugs in my pants pockets.

INTERNATIONAL PANTS BAN
posted by elizardbits at 2:54 PM on January 19, 2012 [25 favorites]


I find the future threat of damaging "campaign raising abilities of remaining Democrats who support SOPA" more interesting, if misguided. While it seems like they're going to try and do the Santorum/SEO thing, I'm curious about how hindering "click to donate" would actually hurt.
posted by zix at 2:55 PM on January 19, 2012


INTERNATIONAL PANTS BAN

I could totally get behind that.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:55 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


when I used to get high, I mostly kept my drugs in my pants pockets.

Check

INTERNATIONAL PANTS BAN

and -mate. Well-played.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 2:59 PM on January 19, 2012


So we didn't really need SOPA/PIPA, right?

megaupload.com was a .com. If it had been a .ru site, or a .hk site, they would not have been able to take it down. SOPA does legislate these takedowns, which area already happening. but SOPA/PIPA also require filtering at the DNS level of domains that the US government doesn't control, DNS and even search engine filtering.

The problem here is that, what from a technical perspective makes Megaupload any different then Dropbox, or Amazon S3? Basically the argument is that if you want to allow people to host miscellaneous files then you're potentially a pirate?
Is MegaUpload a Dropbox-alike or a Piratebay-alike? If it's the former I can see some fireworks ahead.
It's definitely the former. It's just a website that you post files on. The piratebay is an index of stuff that's available on bittorent. Interesting, Piratebay doesn't directly violate copyright, since they're only pointing out where the files are. They don't even host the trackers anymore (IIRC). But I think there may be other laws they violate, or something.
[...] when notified by a rights holder that a file contained infringing content, the indictment alleges that the conspirators would disable only a single link to the file, deliberately and deceptively leaving the infringing content in place to make it seamlessly available to millions of users to access through any one of the many duplicate links available for that file.
Imagine if that rule applied to DropBox. That would mean if the MPAA demanded someone take down an MP3 file hosted on a single person's DropBox account, DropBox would have to remove every single copy from every single person's storage area. Remember DropBox saves money by comparing files to see if they match, so if two people have the same file, DropBox does know.
That's why I think DropBox's model is actually a bad one. Wuala is a competitor, run by hard drive maker LaCie. They encrypt all your stuff, and no one at the company knows what it is. (although I don't know if you can share files the way you can with DropBox. If they're all encrypted it wouldn't make sense.)
Dropbox might be the most legitimately useful utility I have for work-home productivity, short of an actual laptop. Let's not lump in Dropbox with these other services.
The only difference is the marketing and the quality of the product. They do the same thing.
I don't share anything with Dropbox. It's just a folder on my work computer, and a folder on my home computer, and I can drag files there and they end up in both places.
Yeah, but you could use megaupload or any of these other sites the same way. It would just be annoying.
Is anyone else chilled by the fact that the FBI is able to arrest people in new Zealand, and shut down server, farms in hong kong, as well as seize domain names, not all of which presumably reside with US registrars?
The Obama administration has decided that it 'owns' the .com/net/org/etc top level domains. They were originally created by the U.S government, and ICANN manages them under a contract with the U.S department of commerce.
Pleh, all the cool kids use WebDAV servers these days.
Why WebDAV and not just plain old SCP? If I have a file I want to put online now I'll dump it to a server using SCP or put it on Amazon S3 directly, using Amazon's proprietary apis (for which there are plenty of nice GUIs for)
Copyright infringement is normally a tort too; here we have the FBI acting as enforcers for the content companies because they claim the numbers are big enough.
More like campaign contributions. Plus, the fact that yesterday Hollywood elite said they'd stop donating to Obama, maybe this will keep the cash flowing and signal to his donors that his administration still takes this stuff seriously. Remember, the claim numbers were just as high during the bush administration, but he never did anything about it, because Hollywood was a democratic constituency.
China and North Korea would seem to be reasonable places for these sites to set up soon. They are far enough out of reach and I can't see them bowing to any external law let alone those of the US.
Megaupload was based in HK.
posted by delmoi at 3:01 PM on January 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


On the plus side, Swizz Beatz can now claim to be the most legitmate gangster rapper of all time.
posted by codacorolla at 3:03 PM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


This guy points out that the entertainment industry supplied a lot of the piracy software (Kazaa, Limewire) to users on purpose, allowing them to sue individuals and eventually make laws like SOPA.
posted by hellbient at 3:05 PM on January 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Hey guise! The DOJ is protesting SOPA!

(If that doesn't load right away, just keep clicking!)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:06 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


wcfields: Looks like 4Chan is DDoSing some sites: Anonymous takes down Department of Justice, RIAA and Universal Music

They should've probably not gone after the White House and DOJ since the White House has come out against SOPA/PIPA if I'm not mistaken.
This type of action at this particular time is is just going to lend credibility to supporters of these types of bills. Even more so considering that Megaupload's Kim Schmitz is one sleazy piece of work. For Anonymous activists to do stuff which can be spun as being on that particular guy's behalf is just moronic.
Why couldn't they just limit themselves to shutting down RIAA, MPAA and Universal Music?
Talk about shooting yourself in the foot...
posted by Hairy Lobster at 3:08 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The Mega Conspiracy leases approximately 25 petabytes of data storage from Carpathia to store content associated with the Mega Site" From the Indictment
posted by pixie at 3:10 PM on January 19, 2012


Our core routers are showing the megaupload ip block being advertised from equinix, but we get no response from that link, so it looks like they seized the actual servers there.
posted by empath at 3:14 PM on January 19, 2012


They should've probably not gone after the White House and DOJ since the White House has come out against SOPA/PIPA if I'm not mistaken.
Uh, the DOJ are the ones doing the takedowns, even if they're not mandating filtering, they're still declaring that they control .com/net/org TLDs and taking down everyone one they don't agree with. Since most 'global' internet sites use .com they are effectively implementing part of SOPA already (which, by the way, is in the bill. The only reason that people are saying SOPA doesn't 'effect' 'domestic' sites (i.e. .com/net/org) is because they think they already have the power to censor those tlds, and are doing so.
"The Mega Conspiracy leases approximately 25 petabytes of data storage from Carpathia to store content associated with the Mega Site" From the Indictment
The Mega Conspiracy? I suppose they can take solace in the fact that they got the most awesome criminal syndicate moniker ever.
posted by delmoi at 3:15 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


They should've probably not gone after the White House and DOJ since the White House has come out against SOPA/PIPA if I'm not mistaken.
This type of action at this particular time is is just going to lend credibility to supporters of these types of bills. Even more so considering that Megaupload's Kim Schmitz is one sleazy piece of work. For Anonymous activists to do stuff which can be spun as being on that particular guy's behalf is just moronic.
Why couldn't they just limit themselves to shutting down RIAA, MPAA and Universal Music?
Talk about shooting yourself in the foot...


Of course, they're going to set a precedent by going after an asshole. That's the way these things work.
posted by empath at 3:16 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Gizmodo: Anonymous Goes on Megaupload Revenge Spree: DoJ, RIAA, MPAA, and Universal Music All Offline
posted by zarq at 3:20 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


1000+ servers in virginia and 600+ in the netherlands. None from HK mentioned.

Paying a hosting company nearly $700k a month from a paypal account.
posted by pixie at 3:27 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are easy mechanisms for pursuing illegal content under DMCA, and it's not like it's hard to find (even if it is a bit of whack-a-mole). Yet the links from index sites to hosting sites stay viable for months and years, and sometimes are easily searchable on youtube.com. If the RIAA and MPAA aren't even making a good faith effort to do the absolute minimum to pursue piracy under DMCA, why the hell should taxpayers fund criminal enforcement. Hell they should lose their copyright for not doing anything to protect the intellectual property.

Also, as a side note, if public domain works are subsequently copyrighted, shouldn't the government be fiscally compensating every American for taking away our property? Or does public domain actually mean no one owns it? If so, how does one prove standing in court to actually bring suit against such efforts? It seems like one or more catch-22's are in play.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:28 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Liked this reddit post by weewolf:

Destroy the American economy: CEO's are immune to prosecution. Golden parachute.

Someone downloads The Matrix off of your website: International man hunt for CEO.

posted by WhitenoisE at 3:28 PM on January 19, 2012 [28 favorites]


Paying a hosting company nearly $700k a month from a paypal account.

Better shut them down as well, profiting from criminal enterprise..
posted by the_artificer at 3:29 PM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is anyone else literally shocked that other countries will arrest a person at the request of another country based on allegations by that country that the person is a criminal?

You hadn't heard of Extradition? Does the name Julian Assange ring a bell? Roman Polanski?
posted by jacalata at 3:30 PM on January 19, 2012


Also, as a side note, if public domain works are subsequently copyrighted, shouldn't the government be fiscally compensating every American for taking away our property?

Seriously. Eminent Domain, anyone?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:33 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd like to make some comments about a semi-hidden group on the net, but I don't want them to take my site down.
posted by andreaazure at 3:37 PM on January 19, 2012


Haha, wow:
The indictment goes after six individuals, who between them owned 14 Mercedes-Benz automobiles with license plates such as "POLICE," "MAFIA," "V," "STONED," "CEO," "HACKER," GOOD," "EVIL," and—perhaps presciently—"GUILTY." The group also had a 2010 Maserati, a 2008 Rolls-Royce, and a 1989 Lamborghini. They had not one but three Samsung 83" TVs, and two Sharp 108" TVs. Someone owned a "Predator statue." Motor bikes, jet skis, artwork, and even 60 Dell servers could all be forfeit to the government if it can prove its case against the members of the "Mega Conspiracy."
posted by Rhaomi at 3:38 PM on January 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Kim should have stayed in Germany, which No extradition to anywhere, ever. I think you can probably guess why... (they recently updated that to allow extradition to other EU countries)
posted by delmoi at 3:42 PM on January 19, 2012


^That's fucking awesome
posted by WhitenoisE at 3:43 PM on January 19, 2012


The Obama administration has decided that it 'owns' the .com/net/org/etc top level domains. They were originally created by the U.S government, and ICANN manages them under a contract with the U.S department of commerce.

They're also run by verizon, a us company. While I may not like laws like coica that authorize seizure of such supposedly international top level domains, they do arguably fall under us jurisdiction. Megaclicks.co though is a columbian domain and has also been seized and has a US FBI warning on it now.
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:43 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


@Rhaomi
posted by WhitenoisE at 3:44 PM on January 19, 2012


"One report showed that a specific linking site had “produce[d] 164,214 visits to Megaupload for a download of the copyrighted CD/DVD burning software package Nero Suite 10. The software package had the suggested retail price of $99.” "

"...shows that law enforcement can take strong action to protect American intellectual property stolen through sites housed in the United States.""

Nero is based in Germany. Hardly "American intellectual property "
posted by episodic at 3:44 PM on January 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


I call dibs on the Rolls.
posted by andreaazure at 3:45 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


DoS'ing the RIAA and MPAA? A DoJ web page? What a joke. The decoys are serving their purpose. Serious people would go against MPAA and RIAA members, and DoS something like VPN's or Citrix farms, routers or B2B connections. This is children throwing eggs at a house.
posted by tyllwin at 3:45 PM on January 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Doesn't everyone use MediaFire anyway? (Or Filesonic, Fileserve, Hotfile, Filestube, Easy Share, Bit Share, FilesTube, FilesApart etc. etc. etc.)

Filestube is a meta-search engine for these hosting sites.

On a certain level, this is like making backpacks illegal because people can fill them with bootlegs.

Not really. From the FBI report:

"The conspirators further allegedly offered a rewards program that would provide users with financial incentives to upload popular content and drive web traffic to the site, often through user-generated websites known as linking sites. The conspirators allegedly paid users whom they specifically knew uploaded infringing content and publicized their links to users throughout the world."

And as already mentioned:

"As alleged in the indictment, the conspirators failed to terminate accounts of users with known copyright infringement, selectively complied with their obligations to remove copyrighted materials from their servers and deliberately misrepresented to copyright holders that they had removed infringing content."

The big question, per CNET, is:

"[I]f the feds can have an accused pirate arrested and brought to this country for trial, why do we need SOPA and PIPA?"

What sucks about this (to me) are the obscure-o music blogs that have rare out of print material that was posted to MegaUpload and won't be re-uploaded.

If it was uploaded once, it can likely be uploaded again. In fact, it's much more likely now that more people have those files locally.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:53 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why the Feds Smashed Megaupload.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 3:53 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why the Feds Smashed Megaupload? I'm sure an Obama administration desire to make nice with unhappy donors doesn't enter into it all
posted by tyllwin at 3:59 PM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Others indicted include:

*Finn Batato, 38, a citizen and resident of Germany, chief marketing officer.
*Julius Bencko, 35, a citizen and resident of Slovakia, graphic designer.
*Sven Echternach, 39, a citizen and resident of Germany, head of business development.
*Mathias Ortmann, 40, a citizen of Germany and resident of both Germany and Hong Kong, chief technical officer co-founder and director.
*Andrus Nomm, 32, a citizen of Estonia and resident of both Turkey and Estonia, software programmer.
*Bram van der Kolk, aka Bramos, 29, a Dutch citizen and resident of both the Netherlands and New Zealand, programmer.
Ouch. Sven's an old friend of mine from "back in the day". Wondered what became of him. Now I know.
posted by scalefree at 4:01 PM on January 19, 2012


Why the Feds Smashed Megaupload.

Not quite. They are publishing what they want us to think. I'm sure words like "make it look legal" and "that's close enough just publish it" were used.
posted by episodic at 4:02 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the Arstechnica article linked above:

For instance, the “abuse tool” allegedly does not remove the actual file being complained about by a rightsholder. Instead, it only removes a specific Web address linked to that file—but there might be hundreds of such addresses for popular content.

Well, yes. Because Alice may be using it legally, even though Bob isn't.

One of the innovations that Mega had was that they didn't bother to upload a file if there was already an identical one on the servers. That saved time and was a benefit to consumers. There is nothing illegal about it unless you *don't* have the rights to it, which is determined on a case by case basis.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:04 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I always assumed that a crackdown of this kind might come someday. That's why I've been downloading and hoarding music as fast as I could for the last several years. At this point, despite having what I think of as fairly diverse taste in music, I've pretty much run out of stuff to grab. Anything I was more than slightly interested in, I've already got. Hell, I'm never even going to listen to all that music from second- and third-tier Wu-Tang affiliates. But it gives me a nice feeling.

Which gives me a rare opportunity to say to The Man what he so delights in saying to us:

FUCK YOU, I'VE GOT MINE
posted by Trurl at 4:05 PM on January 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think they were incorporated in Hong Kong, but didn't have any physical servers in the city.

IPs originating from Hong Kong were blocked from Megaupload, along with IPs from China, for some reason.
posted by zennish at 4:14 PM on January 19, 2012


delmoi: Uh, the DOJ are the ones doing the takedowns, even if they're not mandating filtering, they're still declaring that they control .com/net/org TLDs and taking down everyone one they don't agree with.

I wasn't trying to imply that the DOJ is faultless or anything. Just that the choice of target and timing was suboptimal in terms of its potential impact the upcoming SOPA senate vote.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:15 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Er - also, in case anyone's interested, the indictment papers are online at Scribd. I think they're the actual ones.

but I'm not American so I don't know if posting this is legal please don't hurt me
posted by zennish at 4:21 PM on January 19, 2012


Fuck me, Kimble was the founder of Megaupload? This is one of the biggest douchebags in the history of the internet. Kinda a hard to find yourself "on his side".
posted by falameufilho at 4:31 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I havent read this whole thread, but this bums me out because I've downloaded tons of out-of-print or rare albums and singles via Megaupload over the last couple of years, some of it ripped from vinyl 45s and possibly never existed on CDs or past the original pressings in the 60s and 70s. I dont even care if that's violating copyright. There is literally no way that the artists, or record companies for that matter, are missing out on profits from stuff that is not available for sale anywhere, except possibly in some dingy second-hand shop somewhere (not knocking second-hand record shops, I love them). Megaupload definitely turns a blind eye to copyright infringement, which is unquestionably a problem, but it's a shame we're losing another avenue to distribute older, forgotten music around to be heard because some 12-year-old doesn't want to pay for the new LMFAO song that's played on the radio every 5 minutes.
posted by Hoopo at 4:34 PM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


They're also run by verizon, a us company. While I may not like laws like coica that authorize seizure of such supposedly international top level domains, they do arguably fall under us jurisdiction. Megaclicks.co though is a columbian domain and has also been seized and has a US FBI warning on it now.
Nothing prevents a country from handing over a domain if the US government asks for it. I would imagine it would be harder to get an .ru domain or a .cn or .ir site. .ru in particular is notoriously friendly to people who want to get out of US jurisdiction. It's ironic that Putin's Russia is actually a bastion of internet freedom.
One of the innovations that Mega had was that they didn't bother to upload a file if there was already an identical one on the servers. That saved time and was a benefit to consumers. There is nothing illegal about it unless you *don't* have the rights to it, which is determined on a case by case basis.
That's exactly how dropbox works, by the way.
posted by delmoi at 4:38 PM on January 19, 2012


People should actually read that arstechnica link. There are very specific allegations, with quotes purportedly from the soon-to-be-defendants, of activities that would pretty clearly put the MegaUpload management on the "deliberately facilitating violations" side of things.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:38 PM on January 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


Supreme Court rules Congress can re-copyright public domain works.

This issue is kind of complex but it only involves foreign works published between about 1923 and 1988(?). It's not a blanket restoration of copyright, the rights holders need to prove 4 things in a court of law, before it is legally copyright. Since most rights holders never go to court, they just "claim" copyright with the Copyright Office (ie. copyright claimant) and take on any comers. If you think they can't prove those four things, and you want to spend the time and money, you can try to get a ruling that it's PD. Thus, these works are sort of limbo. Copyright by claimant but not tried so, but also not PD.
posted by stbalbach at 4:49 PM on January 19, 2012


falameufilho: "Fuck me, Kimble was the founder of Megaupload? This is one of the biggest douchebags in the history of the internet. Kinda a hard to find yourself "on his side"."

I had no idea who he was until I read his wiki and he is nothing more than a scam/con artist.
posted by wcfields at 4:53 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


oh my god I wondered what happened to him. Kim Schmitz used to run a site (kimble.org, it loads blank on my phone, so it might still work) where'd he would share pictures of him and his pals. hanging out on yachts, luxury cars, basically anything very large that used a lot of fuel and could accommodate many eastern European women. and then he went to jail for some sort of insider trading thing. we'd gawk at the pictures over IRC, like 12 years ago.
posted by ninjew at 4:54 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


very specific allegations and purportedly

Facts they are not. We are getting a crafted story here. The media angle will have been given a high priority, the sites to inform carefully chosen, the words chosen to sound specific but actually vague in court.
posted by episodic at 4:56 PM on January 19, 2012


Just read the Ars Technica article. I have some experience with this as I have worked in a service in the same segment (mostly unrestricted digital content sharing) for a couple of years. I say some experience because I never handled the legal issues directly, just requirements that came as a consequence of legal issues.

Here's the thing - there are ways to stay on the right side of the DMCA on this, following the "safe harbor" provisions. It's a narrow and expensive path, but walkable. It doesn't mean people won't sue you. They probably will if you get big enough. But at least you won't get a visit from the Party Van.

These guys were insanely careless. They broke every single rule on the safe harbor book. Forget about SOPA and PIPA - technically, these guys would have got the same amount of heat 5 years ago.
posted by falameufilho at 5:08 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Anonymous Goes on Megaupload Revenge Spree

Gah. You know all the good work people did yesterday getting the word out about what was wrong with those bills? Anonympus just undid it and made it "we want free shit".
posted by Artw at 5:14 PM on January 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


Of course they're not facts. If there hasn't been a trial or admission of guilt, there are never facts. But the allegation that the site paid a frequent-uploader bonus to a user who, per internal communication, provided "10+ Full popular DVD rips (split files), a few small porn movies, some software with keygenerators (warez)" isn't what I'd call vague.

My feelings on MU are kind of like the Pirate Bay. Yes, torrents have entirely legitimate purposes and the media empires acting aggrieved are on the wrong side of history and technology, and assholes to boot. All of this is true. But you can't build a site that has a pre-made button you click on to find downloads of 24, helpfully broken out by season courtesy of the site itself and not the uploading user, and then claim that you are shocked, shocked to find piracy going on.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:14 PM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


It will be very easy to nail sites like Megaupload because they are actively paying pirates.

This is not an exaggeration. All these sites have a points rewards system that operate similar to airline miles. When someone uploads to this site, and someone else buys a subscription after clicking that upload link (linking their cookies to the uploader), the uploader gets points. I think on some services the uploader gets some points for each download, too. When one accumulates enough points, they can spend it similar to airline miles on gift certificates or whatnot. Implicitly, though, the only real purchase you can make (because it's the best deal) is a 1-month voucher code for a premium account at the site. The uploader then takes the code and sells it online, whether it be on ebay, or whatever. Effectively, they are paying frequent/popular uploaders of content.

This is why you see remix music sites change providers every so often, they choose providers on whichever gives the best rebates/points. While remix music is a grey area, outright piracy is not, and this is where they will get nailed. Paying people to pirate looks really bad, but these sites became popular over bittorrent because of this business model. Remixes used to have torrent links, but sites seem to actively discourage that because they want the rebate money.

Also, I hear if you do a lot of downloading off these kinds of sites (legal/fair-use only, please), people automate it by using jDownloader, which automatically clicks on links to start timers at these sites for you. Some people then install the captchatrader plugin, which will fill out Recaptchas on these sites. So then there's this weird situation where people are stealing bandwidth from sites that assist in piracy.
posted by amuseDetachment at 5:16 PM on January 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


If true, fuck those guys.
posted by Artw at 5:19 PM on January 19, 2012


There is little functional difference between DropBox-alike and PirateBay-alike, maybe enough they can prosecute one first, but nothing substantive enough to prevent pirates from using any site they choose. DropBox, iCloud, etc. are all waiting their turn on the chopping block here. Isn't that largely why we're fighting SOPA and PIPA?
posted by jeffburdges at 5:19 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm very concerned this happened in my backyard (NZ) and our authorities made the arrest on behalf of the FBI with possible extradition pending for them. I hope NZ police do some further investigations to ensure the cases are warranted before the deport these poor souls to USA to face the FBI.
Hey if these guys were murders or charged with genocide or the likes then I think extradition is a good thing, but this one is too much in lines with the record & film industry playing with NZ laws, our stupid 3 strikes internet piracy law reeks of being floated by them, and now arresting people on behalf of FBI on piracy charges sure sounds like Pirates are the world’s worst crims we need to chase all over the world, it might be criminally safer to eradicate half a race than is it host a site with pirate movies..
posted by Merlin The Happy Pig at 5:20 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Artw: It's true. Obviously I can't link to megaupload, but here's a retardedly useless guide from eHow. If you google for "megaupload rewards points" you'll get results with messageboards posts talking about the program. When an uploader earns free months, they don't earn it in their account, they get voucher codes. They can use the codes for themselves, but prolific uploaders earn far too many free months to use for themselves, so they sell them.
posted by amuseDetachment at 5:23 PM on January 19, 2012


DropBox, iCloud, etc. are all waiting their turn on the chopping block here.

iCloud is paying a license fee, and I would not be surprised if Apple was pushing for shutting these sites down, as they stand to benefit the most from it.
posted by empath at 5:26 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do you realize youtube pays uploaders for content too? I think youtube paid $3k for 1M views. I could easily imagine a shared drive site like dropbox that "refunded" you for "deduplicatable content". And you'd adore that feature for permitting you to store all your shit for free.

There might be internal emails amongst MegaVideo staff that indicate they appreciated how their site profited from copyright violations, but BoA, Citi, etc. all have internal emails appreciating how they rob pension funds, Universal Music has internal emails about how they cheat artists, etc. You must seize the servers before you get the evidence.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:29 PM on January 19, 2012


I hope NZ police do some further investigations to ensure the cases are warranted before the deport these poor souls to USA to face the FBI.

Maybe Parliment can sort it out?

They can use the codes for themselves, but prolific uploaders earn far too many free months to use for themselves, so they sell them.

Which just shows that *everything* can be considered 'commercial activity' if you look hard enough.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:32 PM on January 19, 2012


Yeah, but Youtube claws back revenue if you're partnered and a video uses copyrighted content. I think it's in the partner contract that if they use copyrighted music, they won't get revenue from that video. Partners only get paid if they upload original content in which they are the copyright owner (also in the partner contract).

I'd be really surprised if megaupload did the same thing.
posted by amuseDetachment at 5:33 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Merlin The Happy Pig: "deport these poor souls"

Dude, "poor souls"? Please. I get your request for due diligence, and I'm right there with you, but poor souls they are not. Even if they don't get convicted, The NZ government should be seriously looking into deporting them.
posted by falameufilho at 5:39 PM on January 19, 2012


People should actually read that arstechnica link.

How does the comment telling people to read the link get more favorites that the link itself? :D

Youtube claws back revenue if you're partnered and a video uses copyrighted content

... if you get caught. I see plenty of ads on unauthorized copyrighted content.

I think YouTube is up next. Either YouTube or the smaller fishes--YouTube Downloader Software.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:41 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Imagine the amount of copyrighted mp3s clogging up gmail's memory fields.
posted by dng at 5:44 PM on January 19, 2012


I hope NZ police do some further investigations to ensure the cases are warranted before the deport these poor souls to USA to face the FBI.

New Zealand is a pretty small country with a proportionally large amount of movie industry cash flying around.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The Chronicles of Narnia (Trilogy so far)
The Hobbit
The Adventures of Tintin
King Kong
The World's Fastest Indian
The Last Samarai
The Piano
The Frighteners
etc.

The entertainment business probably has a lot of pull for all the jobs and investment they put into the place. In retrospect, New Zealand may not have been a great place for the Mega guys to hang out.
posted by Winnemac at 5:44 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is there anything to worry about if you used the site occasionally?
posted by cuban link flooded jesus at 5:49 PM on January 19, 2012


We aren't talking about Amazon bulk importing pirated DVDs, or Apple pirating songs on their iTunes store. You needed real effort to find MegaVideo links, work that MegaVideo didn't afaik facilitate.

I'd expect Apple and Microsoft will push for shutting down DropBox, thus pushing people towards iCloud and SkyDrive.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:51 PM on January 19, 2012


Is there anything to worry about if you used the site occasionally?

I suspect not. For better or worse the act of downloading an infringing file is rarely prosecuted. Users of P2P services are sude for the act of uploading to fellow infringers that is inherent in a P2P environment. Unless you were the person who was actually uploading all those copies of Transmetropolitan and Dr. Who.


I'd expect Apple and Microsoft will push for shutting down DropBox, thus pushing people towards iCloud and SkyDrive.

The jump from the this to that is pretty ridiculous. DropBox, of all the services being discussed, would be the silliest target: its business model in no way benefits from a high upload/download ratio. They show no ads, they bill themselves as a personal data syncing tool rather than a file sharing tool, and they reward other people for getting people to sign up and host their own files, not for simply downloading stuff while looking at ads.

I mean, I'm sure both MS and Apple would love to replace DropBox with their services, but it's pretty ridiculous to pretend that MegaUpload was some sort of business model competitor to iCloud and SkyDrive that was targeted by technical competitors.
posted by verb at 6:03 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Justice Department and FBI said Dotcom, Batato, Ortmann and van der Kolk were arrested on Thursday in Auckland, New Zealand, by local authorities on the basis of arrest warrants requested by the United States.

Bencko, Echternach and Nomm remain at large.
So my old friend sevenup (Sven), being in Germany, should be safe. They've had no extradition since WW2, for obvious reasons.
posted by scalefree at 6:06 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


DropBox, of all the services being discussed, would be the silliest target

Don't be so sure. They're a file sharing site at heart.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:16 PM on January 19, 2012


Aren't DropBox and SkyDrive mostly used for piracy though? I've always encountered them that way myself. I'm sure DropBox picks up legit users for their cross platform support, but I've most frequently encountered them being used for piracy. I've never encountered SkyDrive hosting except when searching for pirated content, not even once. It appears that Apple pays the music industry for iCloud because they want to integrate all your pirated music into your iTunes, not sure how that works for sharing though.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:17 PM on January 19, 2012


[Germany has] had no extradition since WW2, for obvious reasons.

I'm probably being naive, but what are those obvious reasons, exactly? They wanted to make sure they could try WWII-era suspected war criminals in their own country?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:18 PM on January 19, 2012


I'm probably being naive, but what are those obvious reasons, exactly? They wanted to make sure they could try WWII-era suspected war criminals in their own country?

I'm not well versed in it but I'm assuming that was the idea, yes.
posted by scalefree at 6:22 PM on January 19, 2012


All four viable Republican candidates just said they oppose SOPA. That was unthinkable a week ago. It wouldn't have even come up in a debate.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:26 PM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Remember that New Zealand rewrote its labour laws to remove protections for film industry (and video game industry) employees when Peter Jackson threatened to move production of The Hobbit.

They won't give the slightest fuck about protecting their citizens against extradition at the film/music industries' behest.

(Sadly this means I can't watch The Hobbit because Peter Jackson is a massive fucking scab.)
posted by robcorr at 6:32 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94: "All four viable Republican candidates just said they oppose SOPA. That was unthinkable a week ago. It wouldn't have even come up in a debate."

Now it'll go down on republicans' PERMANENT RECORDS. HeritageAction.com:
While the federal government does have a role in protecting intellectual property rights, it should do so in a way that does not weaken internet security, disrupt growth or restrict free speech rights. To date, SOPA and PIPA fail to meet that standard.
Heritage Action opposes SOPA and PIPA and if they come to a vote will include them as a key vote on our scorecard.
posted by mullingitover at 6:36 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


There might be internal emails amongst MegaVideo staff that indicate they appreciated how their site profited from copyright violations, but BoA, Citi, etc. all have internal emails appreciating how they rob pension funds, Universal Music has internal emails about how they cheat artists, etc. You must seize the servers before you get the evidence.
I always wonder -- why do people always take notes on a criminal conspiracy. The Galleon group insider trading ring, those pot-smoking arms dealers from Florida. It just blows my mind that these people are just emailing each other all the time about what they're doing.
I mean, I'm sure both MS and Apple would love to replace DropBox with their services, but it's pretty ridiculous to pretend that MegaUpload was some sort of business model competitor to iCloud and SkyDrive that was targeted by technical competitors.
Maybe from a marketing/revenue look but from a technical perspective there's really no difference. They both hosted de-duped files for people, and let you share them.
posted by delmoi at 6:37 PM on January 19, 2012


All four viable Republican candidates just said they oppose SOPA. That was unthinkable a week ago. It wouldn't have even come up in a debate.
Why are the dems sticking with SOPA while republicans abandon it? Same reason James Inhofe was defending oil drillers from expanded liability during the BP oil spill. Hollywood donates mostly to the dems, the oil industry mostly to republicans.
posted by delmoi at 6:40 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Have you seen the picture of the MegaUpload founder's house in New Zealand?
posted by shii at 6:41 PM on January 19, 2012


Is there anything to worry about if you used the site occasionally?

Once upon a time my ISP contacted me saying a certain very large media group had discovered that a computer at the IP address I was using at the time had downloaded an episode of a certain TV show via Bit Torrent, that this certain very large media group was not pleased with a computer at that IP address, and would I please kindly stop making the computers at the IP addresses that I use look like they're doing things that they shouldn't be doing.
posted by clorox at 6:48 PM on January 19, 2012


Large industries will keep coming. This SOPA/PIPA is just a blip, there were similar acts before (E.g.: DMCA), and there is more to come. They will try to stop anything that threatens them: technology, innovation, creativity, freedom. They are able to do this for one core reason: they fund political campaigns. The Fair Elections Now act is the quickest solution. I started a petition yesterday to try and get it mentioned in the State of the Union in case anyone is interested.
posted by yoz420 at 6:49 PM on January 19, 2012


I really do think it should be mandatory for politicians to wear the logos of their corporate sponsors (sized in proportion to funding received), just so it's clear to the layperson who they're actually working for. The shit's just too confusing.
posted by mullingitover at 6:53 PM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I would totally pay someone to create a great graphic of well-known politicians with their suits looking like those Nascar suits.
posted by yoz420 at 6:55 PM on January 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


A bit dated, but try this.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:05 PM on January 19, 2012


Aren't DropBox and SkyDrive mostly used for piracy though?

Hard to say. They can certainly be used for it, but my 30-person virtual company has a corporate account for sharing non-critical documents. They have a developer API and it's used as the file-syncing backend for dozens if not hundreds of cross-platform mobile apps, there are open source projects that use DropBox as the backend for a web site's file structure, etc. Pretty much every mobile worker I know has a Dropbox account and uses it for laptop syncing or project-specific workgroup spaces.

It's not to say that it makes the company any less legitimate, but they've certainly worked very hard to bootstrap a "traditional" service company that depends on peoples' need for utility file syncing, rather than the popularity of specific downloadable files.
posted by verb at 7:07 PM on January 19, 2012


RIAA Is "Deeply Grateful" to Justice Department for Thwarting Megaupload’s "Sinister Scheme"
posted by homunculus at 7:11 PM on January 19, 2012


domain names have been seized

What would one have to do, I wonder, to a DNS server to have it prevent them doing this? And where can I download the patch? I haven't followed any alternatives-to-DNS stuff since AlterNIC, but I guess it's time to look into it again.
posted by sfenders at 7:20 PM on January 19, 2012


How much of the MU story is enforcement theatre to show the American People that SOPA/PIPA is just the natural outcome?
posted by sneebler at 7:27 PM on January 19, 2012


jeffburdges: "Aren't DropBox and SkyDrive mostly used for piracy though? I've always encountered them that way myself."

Could you post some examples of Dropbox being used like that? Or keywords to find them?

I'm curious because this is the first time I hear about Dropbox being used for mass piracy in the real world. I mean, I know it's possible through the Public folder but it seems like such an inefficient way to do it (they block access if you use too much bandwidth) unless you just want to share a file with just a couple of 'friends'.
(And I thought the whole generate fake file to download Dropbox's copy was mostly theoretical as it doesn't seem very practical)
posted by Memo at 7:37 PM on January 19, 2012


I'm looking forward to the crackdown on [ordinary, everyday innocent thing that we all use] because it can be used for [illicit thing that it can be used for, but isn't the primary use].
posted by davejay at 8:59 PM on January 19, 2012


On one hand, this is shitty shitty shitty.

On the other hand, this will spur everyone uploading files to increase redundancy and to spread their content on multiple sites. If I were a site like Megaupload, I would immediately set work on creating a service that would automatically/easily copy files from another competitor and host it on my site. This would a) increase redundancy by making a mirror and b) would increase traffic to my site, increasing ad revenue. Other sites would follow soon. Eventually, an easily-mirrored sort of 'manual cloud' would form between these sites, making the takedown of a single site like Megaupload unimportant and meaningless....
posted by suedehead at 9:27 PM on January 19, 2012


They,[ Germany, have] had no extradition since WW2, for obvious reasons.

Do what now? The U.S. has had an extradition treaty with Germany since 1978, in force since 1980, and supplemented twice, in 1986 and 2006 [big pdf]. Here's the original and the 1986 supplement [pdf]. I can't find the 2006 supplement online (treaties are kind of bizarrely difficult to look up online in my experience, unlike statutes and even court cases).
posted by jedicus at 9:37 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


suedehead: "On one hand, this is shitty shitty shitty.

On the other hand, this will spur everyone uploading files to increase redundancy and to spread their content on multiple sites. If I were a site like Megaupload, I would immediately set work on creating a service that would automatically/easily copy files from another competitor and host it on my site. This would a) increase redundancy by making a mirror and b) would increase traffic to my site, increasing ad revenue. Other sites would follow soon. Eventually, an easily-mirrored sort of 'manual cloud' would form between these sites, making the takedown of a single site like Megaupload unimportant and meaningless...
"

Sharebee
Mass Mirror
Upload Bud

and for good measure protecting the uploaded link from bots: ProtectLinks!
posted by wcfields at 9:50 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


How much of the MU story is enforcement theatre to show the American People that SOPA/PIPA is just the natural outcome?
posted by sneebler at 7:27 PM on January 19 [+] [!]


I think these arrests - especially if they lead to convictions - may weaken the case for SOPA/PIPA because it suggests existing laws are sufficient. I'm sure the timing of the arrests were deliberate but I think it had more to do with law enforcement officials wanting as much publicity for their work (and to defend themselves from accusations that they're not doing enough) as possible for their own careers rather than "enforcement theatre" to scare people (I don't think mastermind underworld figures like Mr. Dotcom scare easily)
posted by Bwithh at 10:04 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


fight or flight wrote: From the Hacker News thread that was mentioned in a previous post, the reason MU was taken down despite adhering to (most) of the DMCA rules:

[...] when notified by a rights holder that a file contained infringing content, the indictment alleges that the conspirators would disable only a single link to the file, deliberately and deceptively leaving the infringing content in place to make it seamlessly available to millions of users to access through any one of the many duplicate links available for that file.


If they were doing block-level deduplication, they would have no way of knowing whether two links referred to the same file unless they went out of their way to do so.

If this actually sticks, usenet sites would be insane to continue carrying binary groups. Apparently the fact that you've got a shedload of legitimate content passing through and you comply with takedown requests doesn't much matter. Can you imagine them having to sift through all the posts to find all the possible permutations of a given work after being notified of one instance of it? It would be an essentially impossible task.

This is an enormous overreach. The comparisons upthread to the banks are apt. They appear to have engaged in one of the biggest orgies of financial fraud in history, yet they get hit with fines. They don't have their domains blocked and their servers seized, despite their being part and parcel of the execution of the fraud.
posted by wierdo at 10:16 PM on January 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I always wonder -- why do people always take notes on a criminal conspiracy.

The successful ones don't. That's why we don't know about them.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:26 PM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


mrgrimm,
A caveat: the successful ones _do_, they just use GPG encryption on all communications.
posted by daq at 11:15 PM on January 19, 2012


Sonny Jim: "
@hyperizer: I hear what you are saying, but those obscure-o music blogs would be better off posting a short sample (much more defensible as fair use). It's much more enjoyable tracking down obscure vinyl at indie music shops that need the business.
Well, yes. But that's a little like telling everybody to stop this all broadband-enabled internet nonsense and go back to 1997. Which seems a little Cnut-ish to me.
"

Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: "Of course they're not facts. If there hasn't been a trial or admission of guilt, there are never facts. But the allegation that the site paid a frequent-uploader bonus to a user who, per internal communication, provided "10+ Full popular DVD rips (split files), a few small porn movies, some software with keygenerators (warez)" isn't what I'd call vague.

My feelings on MU are kind of like the Pirate Bay. Yes, torrents have entirely legitimate purposes and the media empires acting aggrieved are on the wrong side of history and technology, and assholes to boot. All of this is true. But you can't build a site that has a pre-made button you click on to find downloads of 24, helpfully broken out by season courtesy of the site itself and not the uploading user, and then claim that you are shocked, shocked to find piracy going on.
"

Well, FWIW, I just torrented Ubuntu i386 in preparation for installing a new SSD in my netbook. Clean install, baby!

Anyway, I got it faster via torrent than I have ever gotten it from a single source before (and, yes, I am counting Steam)...
posted by Samizdata at 11:45 PM on January 19, 2012


episodic: ""One report showed that a specific linking site had “produce[d] 164,214 visits to Megaupload for a download of the copyrighted CD/DVD burning software package Nero Suite 10. The software package had the suggested retail price of $99.” "

"...shows that law enforcement can take strong action to protect American intellectual property stolen through sites housed in the United States.""

Nero is based in Germany. Hardly "American intellectual property "
"

Oh, yeah, the same $99 they wanted for upgrading? Lousy N...Oh...Almost slipped..Lousy German profiteers. And, well, it would have been nice had they mentioned locking it to one machine, instead of my desktop and an infrequently used laptop. What family discount?
posted by Samizdata at 11:48 PM on January 19, 2012


jeffburdges: "Aren't DropBox and SkyDrive mostly used for piracy though? I've always encountered them that way myself. I'm sure DropBox picks up legit users for their cross platform support, but I've most frequently encountered them being used for piracy. I've never encountered SkyDrive hosting except when searching for pirated content, not even once. It appears that Apple pays the music industry for iCloud because they want to integrate all your pirated music into your iTunes, not sure how that works for sharing though."

Only thing I really seriously use it for is offsite backup for my Gmail archive. It is just so damn easy to use. I was looking at a Metafilter shared box for Dropbox users as a way to easily share stuff, but no one ever got back to me on it.
posted by Samizdata at 11:53 PM on January 19, 2012


On reddit, someone suggested a bunch of small claims lawsuits from people trying to get their (legitimate) files back that have been seized.
posted by empath at 1:30 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think I'm going to seriously consider ways to ensure that my money is not spent on anything that funds big media. Like a boycott, but I don't really care if anyone else is doing it.

I think I can live just fine without.
posted by neversummer at 1:44 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think Dropbox/Skydrive are in the same league here. The indictment goes at length to show that MU was not a "digital locker", as the files that were not downloaded were not permanently stored but removed after some time.

For me the most damning part is the "uploader rewards" - I've always wondered who put illegal stuff on megaupload - I assumed it must be a referer kickback to forum sites or something - turns out they were actively paying uploaders....

Also: they were being careless : servers in the US, lots of information exchanged over e-mail, etc...

I disagree with the way the site was shutdown - but I can't see how the "Mega Conspiracy" people are going to get out of it.
posted by motdiem2 at 2:09 AM on January 20, 2012


Well, at least, now with the movie houses earning that $500 million they lost to megaupload, they can make two more action movies a year. Personally, I cannot wait to see Transformers 15: We spent $250 million on the explosions and 50c and a used tissue on the script.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:39 AM on January 20, 2012


If this actually sticks, usenet sites would be insane to continue carrying binary groups. Apparently the fact that you've got a shedload of legitimate content passing through and you comply with takedown requests doesn't much matter. Can you imagine them having to sift through all the posts to find all the possible permutations of a given work after being notified of one instance of it? It would be an essentially impossible task.

The wording in the article gave me the impression that what they did was more along the lines of being asked to take down a file accessed through megaupload.com/123ABC and complying, but not also taking down megaupload.com/download/123ABC even though they both lead to exactly the same file. Like locking the doors of a car but leaving the windows down and the keys on the seat.
posted by clorox at 4:31 AM on January 20, 2012


If Megaupload has been shut down, will Megadownload be shut up?
posted by Renoroc at 4:37 AM on January 20, 2012


So we didn't really need SOPA/PIPA, right?

Perhaps the government and corporate interests behind these arrests played their hand too early. Maybe we'll get lucky this time and the public will ask the same insightful question.

But we didn't need the PATRIOT Act, either — we were handling terrorism through regular channels of law enforcement — and these bad laws still have a habit of passing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:44 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


1. This is a multi-year investigation, the feds didn't just decide to show sopa protesters who's the boss. Timing is awkward, but I doubt the conspiracy thinking.

2. Kim Dotcom is a right bastard, and based on his previous modality, I can almost guaranty that he will roll over on his users, and a fair number of paid uploaders are in from visits from the Feds in the future. Downloaders probably not, but uploaders are well within the crosshairs here.

3. Anonymous is fucking up. Their actions will make non-techs and the media confuse sopa/pipa protests with this stupid ddos "campaign".

4. Ddosing any site is a stupid way to "get revenge". It's like tping someone's house. Annoying, but no harm really done. This is script kiddie nonsense.

5. Kim is an asshole, a thief, and a bad man who was flagrantly flouting the law, and that it took two years for these indictments to be finalized suggests to me that the feds probably have a good case. He isn't deserving of the handwringing that seems to be the prevalent meme of the day.

Look, I'm all for real hackers. Folks who play with code to see what it does. I can get behind hacks that release info that the public should know, like wikileaks. I can even support hacks that serve a political agenda, even when I think the agenda is wrong. But Kim and co are none of those things. They were blatent, open, for profit, pirates. And because.of them, file sharing and hackers and those of us against sopa/pipa are going to take a huge fucking hit.

Kim painted a target on people who really fight for data privacy. Fuck him and the billion dollar pirate ship he rode in on.
posted by dejah420 at 6:10 AM on January 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


Either you're for data privacy or you aren't. What people do with it isn't rally your business, is it? That's kind of the whole point of privacy.
posted by empath at 6:28 AM on January 20, 2012


Privacy is important, but it doesn't follow that police should never be able to get warrants for anything.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:32 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


On reddit, someone suggested a bunch of small claims lawsuits from people trying to get their (legitimate) files back that have been seized.

Who, exactly, are you going to sue? Megaupload?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:41 AM on January 20, 2012


Aren't DropBox and SkyDrive mostly used for piracy though?

The number of acts of copyright infringement I've committed with Dropbox (at least the ones involving another party) can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

The number of acts of copyright infringement I've committed with MegaUpload are in the high three-figures.
posted by Trurl at 6:45 AM on January 20, 2012


I can even support hacks that serve a political agenda, even when I think the agenda is wrong. But Kim and co are none of those things. They were blatent, open, for profit, pirates.

Which is a Political agenda, too.

The number of acts of copyright infringement I've committed with MegaUpload are in the high three-figures.

Oddly, my only interactions with them have been downloads from bands trying to get their music out.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:01 AM on January 20, 2012


I actually mostly get my pirated stuff from mediafire.
posted by empath at 7:05 AM on January 20, 2012


my only contact with megaupload has been to snarf cyanogenmod fixes for my droidx.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 7:09 AM on January 20, 2012


Look, I can understand the concern of those who used Megaupload for legitimate purposes (wherein, I must add, I don't regard "Watching movies for free and to hell with those who made them" as a legitimate purpose). On the other hand, it isn't as if they weren't aware that Megaupload (with Megavideo and Megaporn) was a rather shady operation. Their complaints rather sound like those of somebody who rented a locker in a whorehouse and then had his stuff locked in when the police closed the brothel.
posted by Skeptic at 7:10 AM on January 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


ChurchHatesTucker: "I can even support hacks that serve a political agenda, even when I think the agenda is wrong. But Kim and co are none of those things. They were blatent, open, for profit, pirates.

Which is a Political agenda, too.
"

How is piracy a political agenda? Look, I agree that media companies are awful. They have too much power, too much money and treat their talent like shit. But the fact is that they are obviously creating/publishing/distributing content that people want. (Not me, as a rule...I've never downloaded a movie or a recent release album...cause I think most of it is shit, and the stuff that isn't, I'll buy.)

But if all content is free, then who pays to make the next set of content?

Piracy is no more a political statement than stealing a cool vase from your neighbors yard is a political statement. I realize the inherent difficulty in equating an actual item to a digital copy of said item; and philosophically I understand that the argument isn't a true argument...but hear me out...if Nobody pays for content, then the content that everyone is stealing will stop being made, because there won't be any profit in it. Profit is what drives the media world.

I really hate coming down on the side against file sharing...I do. I think there are plenty of cases where filesharing is a valid way to share information that would otherwise be unobtainable...much like we used mixed tapes and soundboard bootlegs in the 80s.

But what Megaupload was doing was monetizing filesharing...and from reading the indictment, the monetizing is what got them busted. Profiting from pirating big media junk isn't a political statement. It's just greed.

That said; if this had been a non-monetized endeavor, then I would probably be arguing from a different ground.
posted by dejah420 at 7:14 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


But if all content is free, then who pays to make the next set of content?

That's a business model issue, which has several possible solutions. In the US we've been delivering free content over the air for a century.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:32 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, we haven't. We've distributed an ad supported model.
posted by dejah420 at 7:53 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can almost guaranty that he will roll over on his users, and a fair number of paid uploaders are in from visits from the Feds in the future

I have never really seen this happen in the past. When the Feds bust a big release group/topsite/torrent site/whatever, they generally shut the site/organization down and arrest the main people in charge. That's sort of the big fish in the case that they bother to spend their time and money on. Once they do that I don't know of many instances where they have gone through seized records to go after people lower down in the food-chain using those records as evidence, even though that possibility is brought up every time something like this happens.

But what Megaupload was doing was monetizing filesharing...and from reading the indictment, the monetizing is what got them busted. Profiting from pirating big media junk isn't a political statement. It's just greed.

Well at the end of the day it takes bandwidth to do filesharing, and somebody is going to make money selling that bandwidth. In the BitTorrent world it's ISPs that sell plans with high upload rates and seedbox providers that make most of the money from peer-to-peer transfers. With Usenet it's the Usenet providers. Back in the BBS days it was phone companies making money off of people buying second phone lines to run modem traffic through all day. File sharing is going to happen and someone is going to make money off of it, even if the file sharers themselves don't pay each other directly. MegaUpload's business model was probably the simplest way of doing that, but it also opens them up to exactly this kind of crackdown.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:53 AM on January 20, 2012


if Nobody pays for content, then the content that everyone is stealing will stop being made, because there won't be any profit in it. Profit is what drives the media world.

Profit is what drives shitty reality TV shows and fox news. Art is driven by something else.
posted by empath at 7:56 AM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


if Nobody pays for content,

That's a big if, and it's never been the case that nobody pays for content. Lots of people are more than happy to pay for content. And those people are happy to pay for content even if they know lots of people are getting it for free. I pay for shit all the time. I also pirate stuff. Even if pirating stuff were as easy as breathing, I would still pay for stuff that I liked. I'd even pay people to make more stuff ahead of time. I've also pirated stuff, then paid for it, then given copies to my friends, some of whom ended it buying it, some didn't.

Art is going to get made, and people are going to financially support artists, no matter how easy it is to share files.
posted by empath at 8:00 AM on January 20, 2012


That may be, but I'm willing to bet money that the big dollars raked in by Kim & co were not for art films that are hard to find, but are instead on blockbuster Hollywood films and albums.

Again, I'm not taking a moral stand *for* big media. Nor do I think that downloading stuff like tv shows should be illegal, but when a company offers a financial incentive for people to upload copyrighted content, nobody should be real surprised when they get busted for it.
posted by dejah420 at 8:06 AM on January 20, 2012


That may be, but I'm willing to bet money that the big dollars raked in by Kim & co were not for art films that are hard to find, but are instead on blockbuster Hollywood films and albums.

Yeah, I don't really care about network tv, blockbuster Hollywood movies or major label pop music, and could care less if the whole industry and its unsustainable business model burned to the ground.
posted by empath at 8:08 AM on January 20, 2012


Either you're for data privacy or you aren't. What people do with it isn't rally your business, is it? That's kind of the whole point of privacy.

Er. How is this about data privacy? It seems like the real issue is that MegaUpload wasn't taking any of the basic precautions to distance themselves from illegal use, and was actively paying users to reward them for sharing copyrighted files on the site.

I'm a big believer that the current IP system is fundamentally broken. The aggregate cultural "buy-in" for the idea a legally protected exclusive right to duplicate is eroding, and artists are suffering because we used that legal right as a substitute for directly rewarding artistic endeavors.

What people still seem to respect is the idea that only artists should make money off of their work. Making a mixtape without permission is something the majority of people seem to respect as legitimate. Making a mixtape without permission and selling it is not.

MegaUpload was pulling in a good bit of cash -- far more than was needed to cover bandwidth costs -- due to their agressive monetization of the download side of things, and their agressive reward system that (with their knowledge) paid people for uploading in-demand copyrighted material. MegaUpload was not "facilitating people sharing files." They were setting themselves up as a new intermediary -- one that was more profitable than traditional ones because they never bothered paying the artists who'd created the original works.

Companies that have survived this kind of thing have learned to work within safe harbor provisions and emphasize the monetization of 100% legal use cases. MegaUpload walked into this with its eyes wide open.
posted by verb at 8:10 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Art is driven by something else.

Wrong. Even artists have to eat. The biggest concern of old masters like Velazquez, Rubens, Vermeer, Titian, da Vinci was to sell their paintings or get a rich patron. In that process they produced their masterworks, and we should be grateful for it, but we should never forget that they did it, mainly, for the money.

Art is going to get made, and people are going to financially support artists, no matter how easy it is to share files.

Creating something worthwhile requires talent, time and effort. Some may be able to create great art for art's sake, but most people won't have that leisure. As for financially supporting artists, well, do you? Do you, after taking notice of some particularly pleasant piece of art, write a big check for the responsible artist as thanks? Even if you do, which I sincerely would dout, I can assure you that 99.99% do not and will not.
posted by Skeptic at 8:12 AM on January 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


As for financially supporting artists, well, do you?

Yes. I buy stuff all the time. I've also funded kickstarter projects. I've actually booked artists for shows when I was doing club promotion still. Someone always will. What isn't going to happen is that everyone pays for every copy of everything they download. People are always going to voluntarily buy art and support artists even when stuff is easily available for free.
posted by empath at 8:15 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even if you do, which I sincerely would dout, I can assure you that 99.99% do not and will not.

I'd say it's probably closer to 90%, but 10% of the people chipping in money is enough. It's obviously enough, because plenty of stuff is getting made.
posted by empath at 8:17 AM on January 20, 2012


No, we haven't. We've distributed an ad supported model.

That's a good example of a media business model shaping itself to fit the technical reality though. When radio broadcasts were first invented they were seen as inherently unprofitable on their own. Governments would pay for radio stations to broadcast speeches and whatnot, newspapers would pay for radio stations to help sell newspapers and further their agenda, etc. but the idea that a company could primarily make money by creating and broadcasting radio content without being able to charge the listeners money seemed impossible. But obviously radio content did have value, and if people wanted to listen to radio content there was probably a way to monetize it. So in the US, unlike most other countries, the commercial radio business model evolved around advertising supported content and has survived to this day. Plus it directly inspired the business model for commercial television, and the companies like CBS made and continue to make billions of dollars off of that business model. If content has value, people will figure out some way to make money off of that content, even if it is technically impossible to ensure that everyone who consumes that content pays for it directly.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:19 AM on January 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I don't really care about network tv, blockbuster Hollywood movies or major label pop music, and could care less if the whole industry and its unsustainable business model burned to the ground.

See, I don't have much sympathy for it either, but (unlike Megaupload), it does employ a large number of honest, hard-working people. Sure, what they produce is mostly shit, but that's because that's what the audience demands, and no change in business model is going to change this. Besides, if you despise that content so much, then what's your problem? Nobody is asking you to pay for something you don't want.
posted by Skeptic at 8:19 AM on January 20, 2012


Is there any evidence that artists are suffering? Independent film makers are benifiting from piracy with movies like Inner Room and Ink because they can gain exposure quickly. I donno if musicians are fairing as well.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:20 AM on January 20, 2012


See, I don't have much sympathy for it either, but (unlike Megaupload), it does employ a large number of honest, hard-working people. Sure, what they produce is mostly shit, but that's because that's what the audience demands, and no change in business model is going to change this.

If they can't make money because no one is buying their shit, then they will stop making their shit. If people really want it, they'll figure out a way to support it. I suspect that most people don't like it enough to go out of their way to pay for most of it.
posted by empath at 8:22 AM on January 20, 2012


I donno if musicians are fairing as well.

I don't know how they're doing financially, but I get most of my music from soundcloud and blogs, and usually it's uploaded by the artists themselves.
posted by empath at 8:24 AM on January 20, 2012


There goes my going through the ton of stuff from old school hip hop tapes. I hope they reupload things to another site, because a lot of what they've shared is difficult to find.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:32 AM on January 20, 2012


Is there any evidence that artists are suffering?

As a musician? Yes. It sucks. Several of the more successful artists in my field significantly reduced their recording output, and one of the most prominent quit altogether. It's a genre of music that was especially vulnerable to piracy because it costs a lot to record and was already subject to distribution problems.
posted by cribcage at 8:44 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Even if you do, which I sincerely would dout, I can assure you that 99.99% do not and will not.

I'd say it's probably closer to 90%, but 10% of the people chipping in money is enough.


I think you guys are way off. I think it's the other way around. 10% of people are total freeloaders, 50% of people mix free/pay, 40% of people pay for everything.

Do you, after taking notice of some particularly pleasant piece of art, write a big check for the responsible artist as thanks?

Of course, and I think most people do.

Making a mixtape without permission is something the majority of people seem to respect as legitimate. Making a mixtape without permission and selling it is not.

But what if you rap over the mixtape, and or remix it in some unique way e.g. Girl Talk? I agree mixtapes should be free, but some of the most popular rap recordings of recent years have been "mixtapes." Shouldn't those artists get compensated?

I don't know how they're doing financially, but I get most of my music from soundcloud and blogs, and usually it's uploaded by the artists themselves.

I still download plenty of back-channel stuff for evaluation and as mentioned many times elsewhere, I still buy plenty of new records, but there is a TON of great free music on bandcamp. It's not quite to the point where I can say I've given up completely on the label-based music industry, but it's very, very close.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:55 AM on January 20, 2012


I think it's worth noting, too, that there's an entire gray area of piracy -- the "try before you buy" set.

Personal example: I love HBO's original programming, but I neither have nor want a package cable deal. If I could get HBO programming à la carte, then I would, but I can't.

I don't want to wait a year to see a given series, so I pirate the hell out of it shortly after it airs. But I really do want to financially support such good programming (and I want higher quality copies), so I make certain to purchase the blue-ray sets as soon as they come out.

I personally know several people who do the same with series shows and music, or download predominately rare and out of print items that they can't get elsewhere.

Stifling file sharing is not the way to succeed. Content producers need to find a model that works with file sharing -- some way to embrace the convenience and strengths of on-demand, and still have some control over it. Netflix, while not quite there, is a good step in the right direction, as is iTunes.
posted by kaseijin at 8:56 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can assure you that 99.99% do not and will not.

Interesting and relevant blog post from Bandcamp: Cheaper Than Free

"A few months ago, we began tracking the starting point of every sale that happens on Bandcamp. In the course of looking at the data (which we'e using to help us plan out what to do next), we've noticed something awesome: every day, fans are buying music that they specifically set out to get for free."

"For example, just this morning someone paid $10 for an album after Googling 'lelia broussard torrent.' A bit later, a fan plunked down $17 after searching for 'murder by death, skeletons in the closet, mediafire.' Then a $15 sale came in from the search 'maimouna youssef the blooming hulkshare.' Then a fan made a $12 purchase after clicking a link on music torrent tracker What.CD. Then someone spent $10 after following a link on The Pirate Bay, next to the plea 'They sell their album as a download on their website. You can even choose your format (mp3, ogg, flac, etc). Cmon, support this awesome band!:'"
posted by mrgrimm at 9:00 AM on January 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


Personal example: I love HBO's original programming, but I neither have nor want a package cable deal. If I could get HBO programming à la carte, then I would, but I can't.

Yep. I do the same thing. I paid for all 5 seasons of the wire (well after it came out), and bought season one of true blood, but pirated everything after season 1 of True Blood and all of Game of Thrones, because there was no way for me to pay for it. I actually emailed HBO asking for the ability to buy HBO Go without getting cable, but they never responded.
posted by empath at 9:00 AM on January 20, 2012


One thing to keep in mind is that content creators have strived for hundred of years to find ways to get more people to see/hear what they created. The physical act of getting stuff in front of eyeballs was, until the last decade, hard, expensive and extremely inefficient. And now that creators have a fast, cheap, efficient way to instantly disseminate art to billions of people worldwide it suddenly becomes a threat to creation? The mind boggles. The fact that the powers-that-be can't find a way to monetize this is just a tribute to their incompetence.

There's a good reason for the success of Megaupload and co: this is not because it's free (it's cheaper but certainly not free) but because this is how content delivery is supposed to happen in 2011. Easy. Worldwide. Real-time. High quality. Cheap. It's not even the future, it's the present. That a sleazeball like Kim Dotcom has understood this faster than media moguls and politicians does not reflect well on the latter. Also, the shutting down of Megaupload - which is affecting millions of people worldwide - may have interesting and unexpected political consequences. The crisis has deprived people of panem without politicians taking action against the perpetrators. And now the same politicians are shutting down the circenses to please their campaign donors? Uh-oh.
posted by elgilito at 9:16 AM on January 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


> I don't know how they're doing financially, but I get most of my music from soundcloud and blogs, and usually it's uploaded by the artists themselves.

I'm part of a record label collective called Digital Vomit. DV doesn't really have a genre policy, but due to the interests of the people involved it's mostly about breakcore, noise, IDM, and underground electronic music in general. We put together compilations, these compilations are free to download, and we encourage filesharing. In fact our whole back catalogue is available to torrent in one huge package.

But that doesn't mean that we can't produce and sell physical releases too. The last compilation I compiled was all about skweee, which has a tradition of producing small run seven inches. So I pressed up three beautiful coloured sevens, and even though the MP3 versions of all the tracks are available to download for free, the sevens still sell well, because they're offering something different from the MP3. They're not simply a vehicle for music distribution, but are worth owning in themselves.

Similarly, I've got really into K-pop recently. The interesting thing about K-pop is that it is a super commercial pop product that is apparently thriving despite piracy. And that's because when you buy a K-pop CD, it's rarely just a CD in a digipack, it's likely to have a book attached, or be in a box with some postcards, or otherwise be a really nice object to own.

So my first point is, if you want to sell things, then sell things. We've never thought of digital files as having the same value as physical objects, no matter how much the music / film / software industry would like us to, because we know that it's a broken metaphor and nothing more.

But, the second, and more important point, is that skweee and K-pop have something in common, despite one being super underground, and one being super commercial. And that's the relationship between the artists and the fans. In both cases, you've got an interplay of brand identity and personal identity, adoration and accessibility, community and celebrity, such that the act of enjoying that music is more than simply playing a track and passively listening to it. When the audience has more invested in that relationship, then they will be more interested in buying and collecting the associated artefacts. This shouldn't be news to the record industry, but they'd rather threaten their existing consumers (and further alienate them) then go back to the hard work of facilitating those fruitful artist-audience connections.
posted by iivix at 9:25 AM on January 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


/me looks forward to the logs from MegaUpload's seized servers making their way into the hands of the MPAA.
posted by beerbajay at 9:35 AM on January 20, 2012


That kind of accessibility and community should be easier than ever with the Internet. The pieces are there to rebuild the music industry in a much more sustainable model, but it might take a new generation of music executives to put them together properly. When the recording companies are run by people who grew up with computers and downloading, maybe then they'll change their paradigms. If they're still in business at that point.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:37 AM on January 20, 2012


it might take a new generation of music executives to put them together properly. When the recording companies are run by people who grew up with computers and downloading, maybe then they'll change their paradigms.

Everyone knows the future is going to be one without recording companies (except maybe the kind that rent studio time), let alone 'music executives'. What a colossal waste of money and manpower.
posted by empath at 9:41 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Everyone knows the future is going to be one without recording companies (except maybe the kind that rent studio time), let alone 'music executives'. What a colossal waste of money and manpower.

There will always be "recording companies" because (some) artists will always need production, and production still makes a huge deal in whether or not an artist becomes popular.

They will also be the ones creating the additional items (artwork, books, pokemon, etc.) that comprise the physical package. We're headed strongly for a "digital music is free and the physical package contains extra non-digital value" model. (Along with, of course, getting paid for appearing/performing.)

There will also always be PR, tours, TV appearances, and marketing. Most artists need managers, and not everyone can find them on their own.

I think the top levels of the entertainment industry are about to be shaken to the core, but the functional operations (producing, scouting, recording, editing, press) are going to stay fairly similar.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:49 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, they wouldn't be record companies any more, if they do continue to exist. (Although smart companies would probably still sell physical things as a subsidiary revenue stream, like iivix's K-pop bands) The main function of a music corporation in this day and age is probably publicity. They use their money and clout to bring artists to the attention of large numbers of people.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:51 AM on January 20, 2012


Yeah, but mrGrimm, all of those services are things that could be bought a la carte, as needed, instead of financed via extortionate contracts and abuse of a distribution monopoly.
posted by empath at 10:19 AM on January 20, 2012


And now that creators have a fast, cheap, efficient way to instantly disseminate art to billions of people worldwide it suddenly becomes a threat to creation? The mind boggles.

I don't know why. The whole concept of copyright was born with the printing press, which was the first "fast, cheap, efficient way" to disseminate art to millions of people. However, it was found that, in this situation, publishers had a much better bargaining position than authors. Just read what Dickens had to say about the subject. The purpose of copyright was to right the balance, partly because of fairness, but also because of utility. The public considered that it was not just fair that authors received a fair share of the profits from the sales of their works, but also necessary to keep them writing. People did not want Dickens to stop writing.

Later, with the arrival of sound and image recording, copyright was extended to those works as well. In this case there was the additional reason that, unlike books, which usually just require a writing implement and a good head to produce, music and movies can require very substantial investments that must somehow be recouped.

In short: copyright is a legal concept that exists not despite technology, but because of it. That digital technology and the internet makes dissemination much faster, cheaper and efficient does not refute the reasons for copyright: it only strengthens them. The only difference between Megaupload and the bootleg publishers Dickens decried is one of scale, not substance. All those fast cars of sleazeball Schmitz have been basically paid thanks to content whose creators haven't seen a dime of the proceeds. This isn't just unfair: it is detrimental to new creation.

Of course, the music and movie industries have also grown more than their fair share of freeloaders, rent-seekers, parasites and sleazeballs, and the technological upheaval offers an opportunity to clean house and concentrate on the remuneration of the actual creators bypassing the intermediaries as much as possible. And, in many aspects, various vested interests have driven the legislative pendulum far too much in the copyright-holders' direction without an actual consensus, which has led to the current backlash.

Yes, copyleft, Creative Commons and similar licensing solutions are very worthy, but in fact they are also grounded on the basic concept of copyright. The decision on how to distribute their creations should be left in the hands of the creators, and they should be given the legal instruments to enforce their decision regardless of technology. Otherwise, they'll just as well opt not to create, or at least not to start disseminating their work.
posted by Skeptic at 10:26 AM on January 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


I donno if musicians are fairing as well.

"Any other musicians out there notice that ever since they shut down MegaUpload, the money has just been POURING in?"—@JonathanCoulton (who was doing OK for himself, last I checked.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:27 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is stupid.

People are never going to stop pirating media. No matter what they criminalize or how many services they shut down. They could completely destroy society and have media police everywhere and people will still be pirating media.

The pirates are never going to ever stop, and the government and the corporations grasping for more and more power to 'stop this threat' is ridiculous.

There isn't a single object on this planet that can't be put to some nefarious purpose.
posted by TheKM at 11:22 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Logged in while on the run to thank you, Skeptic, for that fantastic response a couple of comments above me. Needed to favorite it so I can reference it next time someone angrily reproaches me for daring to wish aloud that pirated copies of my books were not made available the morning of their release by self-described (that is, so they describe themselves, as they post the file) "fans" of mine.

In short: copyright is a legal concept that exists not despite technology, but because of it.

Precisely.

I was aggressively anti-SOPA and PIPA. But I'm not sorry to see Megaupload get shut down.
posted by artemisia at 11:29 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The whole concept of copyright was born with the printing press, which was the first "fast, cheap, efficient way" to disseminate art to millions of people. However, it was found that, in this situation, publishers had a much better bargaining position than authors.

And now, thanks to bold new advances in copyright over the past few hundreds of years, publishers still have a much better bargaining position than authors. Only now are things perhaps shifting in favour of the authors, and it's not in spite of the new technology, it's a result of the new technology. Todays equivalent of the printing press is not much like Gutenberg's. When practically every household has several devices that are each about a zillion times better at making copies of information than was an early printing press, you get something qualitatively different.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm against the whole concept of copyright, but I can't help feeling this suspicion that we'd collectively get along just fine without it, or with less of it. It's a formerly-necessary legal injustice that appears a whole lot less necessary than it used to.
posted by sfenders at 11:59 AM on January 20, 2012


Art is driven by something else.

Absolutely. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, "Man, I need some MONEY. I think I'll create an original work of art!" Artists make art because they want to make art. You'd be lying, though, if you said that trying to figure out how to turn artistic works into a basic survival-level of cash wasn't a major component of the artistic process for as long as we've had any kind of intentionally-created art.

Starving to death tends to reduce one's artistic output. As such, artists need one of the following, or something like them. The current system of publishing/distribution channels is basically an intermediary that sells a physical products or licenses based on an artist's work, and in exchange gives artists the aggregated micropayments from lots of individual purchases. It's breaking down for a lot of reasons, including overreach on the part of the distributors and the emergence of "accidental" copying and distribution by fans and users.

But at the end of the day you can't say that artists don't need money/compensation/whatever. They may not need the sort of arrangement that we have today, with large distribution companies collecting payment and funneling a percentage to the artists etc. But history demonstrates that the vast majority of people do the easiest thing. If that is purchasing art, they purchase it. If that is downloading a copy with minimal friction for free, they will do that.
posted by verb at 12:19 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


ChurchHatesTucker: I can't tell if you know this, but I'm almost certain he's kidding (allowing 0.1% uncertainty for bizarro world). All his songs are on his website trivially downloadable for free.
posted by jacalata at 12:21 PM on January 20, 2012


I read this somewhere else, probably reddit, and pasted it on a forum i frequent, and figured it might be appropriate here:
You can't combat piracy. Externalities are a cost of doing business. Anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding him/herself.

There's exactly one way to maximize profit, and that is to deliver a product that people are willing to pay for at a price that they are willing to pay. The pirates were never your customers and never will be, and the sooner the companies accept that and focus on the real problems (massively overpricing everything when first released, delivering products that can't easily be moved between devices because of the restrictive/broken DRM, and the declining quality of entertainment products in general), they'll have better profits. That's not what SOPA/PIPA and similar legislation are about, however. They're about eliminating legitimate lower-cost competition.

What scares the industry most is that these days, any jackass in his home could make a movie of comparable quality to most of the non-SFX Hollywood films. Moderately high-end HD cams cost a couple of grand or three—well within the price range of most people if they are willing to save up for a bit. You can buy halogen lights at Home Depot for fifty bucks, then rebuild the reflectors yourself and build your own barn doors for just about nothing. And there are millions of people out there who can act, not just a few dozen in Hollyweird, so there's no shortage of available talent.

In effect, this means that commercial movies are too expensive by about a factor of a thousand. But instead of finding ways to take advantage of new technologies to cut their production and distribution costs, they are instead focusing on destroying new means of distribution to prevent competition. You see, YouTube is in a great position to deliver paid content from independent producers to consumers. The studios know this, and they know that if the Internet turns into anything approaching a free market, they're basically out of business. For this reason, they do everything within their power to kill such sites—not because they can be used to pirate Hollywood movies, but because they can be used to sell non-Hollywood movies without having to spend millions of dollars in infrastructure. That ability of the general public to do what the major studios do is the greatest threat to their power.

Game studios are similar. There's no reason why people who want to write games should go work for one of those sweatshops, working unholy hours for terrible pay. You can go off on your own and work with a handful of people and write a great game, sell it, and make a fair amount of money. If everyone did this, the sweatshop game studios of the world would collapse, and the Internet makes that not only possible, but downright easy. They know this, and it terrifies them. So they do what they can to create liability for any ISP that might dare to distribute software, thus discouraging the practice.

And so on. It's not about piracy. It's about control. They want to control the entire content production industry, and our Congresspeople are almost all too fucking stupid to realize that these laws only serve to turn the big studios into a state-protected oligopoly and thwart small businesses' attempts to compete. And this is why we don't have jobs in this country.
posted by frmrpreztaft at 12:29 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


You'd be lying, though, if you said that trying to figure out how to turn artistic works into a basic survival-level of cash wasn't a major component of the artistic process for as long as we've had any kind of intentionally-created art.

Oh absolutely. I love making music. I'd love to be able to make a living doing it. If I didn't have a full time job, I'd be making more of it. But piracy isn't the reason I don't make money at it. I don't make money at it because I suck. My friends that produce that actually know what they're doing do make money at it, despite the fact that 10 minutes after their songs go on beatport, they're all over Russian blogs and mediafire, etc, and most of them aren't that upset when it happens, because those aren't sales they would have had anyway, and if enough people download their stuff, they get gig offers out of it.

Carte blanche sponsorship for 'Being an Artist' from one or many patrons
Direct payment from patrons for commissioned works


This is going to be the model for the future, imo. A lot of starving artists giving away stuff for free until they get some attention from fans who finance future work for their own enjoyment. Much like the way it used to work, with a lot of starving artists trying to get 'discovered' by A&R guys. Except now there are millions of potential A&R guys.
posted by empath at 12:35 PM on January 20, 2012


And so on. It's not about piracy. It's about control. They want to control the entire content production industry, and our Congresspeople are almost all too fucking stupid to realize that these laws only serve to turn the big studios into a state-protected oligopoly and thwart small businesses' attempts to compete. And this is why we don't have jobs in this country.

You know, I'm very sympathetic and I agree with this in principle. But if you look at MegaUpload's business model, it's pretty clear that they were not sticking it to the man. They were positioning themselves as an alternate middleman, extracting profits via ads and premium memberships, paying people they explicitly knew were uploading other artists' content without authorization, and kicking any "long tail" content to the curb if it didn't generate profitable downloads.


This is going to be the model for the future, imo. A lot of starving artists giving away stuff for free until they get some attention from fans who finance future work for their own enjoyment. Much like the way it used to work, with a lot of starving artists trying to get 'discovered' by A&R guys. Except now there are millions of potential A&R guys.

I totally agree. I think it's ethically questionable (and illegal) when those new distribution models bootstrap themselves by forcing existing artists to use the new models without permission. I believe that giving free samples away at grocery stores is a great way to get business, but I don't have the right to give their grapes away to my friends to convince them to buy more. Naturally, the lossless duplication thing makes a hash of that, but I think there's a big difference between evangelizing a new way, and announcing that you're happy to see anyone who's still relying on the old way go under.
posted by verb at 12:41 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


State-sponsored living wage for the functionally unemployed

I support this model. It's the best for communities, for the elderly, for crime rates, for quality of life...
posted by Theta States at 12:42 PM on January 20, 2012


There isn't a single object on this planet that can't be put to some nefarious purpose.

Yet the object wasn't the problem here. As others have mentioned, millions of sites have the same basic functionality.

The problem here seems to be (alleged) evidence of actual crimes committed/nefarious purposes.

most of them aren't that upset when it happens, because those aren't sales they would have had anyway, and if enough people download their stuff, they get gig offers out of it

The best artist I've ever heard talk about unauthorized downloading was John Vanderslice. I think it was an interview with Merlin Mann (and was probably on the blue). Lemme try to find it. ...

Well, not on the blue, but I found it. Great perspective from a very successful yet still strugging indie rocker. "It's a scam/kickback world." (The downloading part starts around 12:00-12:30.)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:56 PM on January 20, 2012


ChurchHatesTucker: I can't tell if you know this, but I'm almost certain he's kidding

It honestly didn't occurr to me that it could be read otherwise.

You know, I'm very sympathetic and I agree with this in principle. But if you look at MegaUpload's business model, it's pretty clear that they were not sticking it to the man. They were positioning themselves as an alternate middleman, extracting profits via ads and premium memberships, paying people they explicitly knew were uploading other artists' content without authorization, and kicking any "long tail" content to the curb if it didn't generate profitable downloads.

Sounds like a successful business model. I have to wonder why the labels don't do this themselves.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:21 PM on January 20, 2012


Sounds like a successful business model. I have to wonder why the labels don't do this themselves.

One of the reasons it's so successful, though, is that someone else is paying the production costs of a lot of the stuff they are using to generate that traffic and those juicy ad-encrusted downloads.

I don't actually have a problem with the business model, and I think that it's really cool that lots of people were using it for distributing their own work. The problem is that MegaUpload also -- knowingly -- paid people to put content they didn't have permission to distribute on that same network, profited from it, and did a terrible job of complying with takedown requests when actual content owners contacted them.

The RIAA has done similar things in the past -- demanding royalties from people who played music in public, even though the artists weren't RIAA artists. The willingness to embrace those kinds of models for profit is why I consider both the RIAA and MegaUpload to be parasitic, even though they've often served legitimate purposes.
posted by verb at 1:34 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


The RIAA has done similar things in the past -- demanding royalties from people who played music in public, even though the artists weren't RIAA artists.

The RIAA doesn't collect performance royalties.
posted by empath at 1:35 PM on January 20, 2012


I apologize, you're correct. SoundExchange, a totally separate and unrelated company that was originally a division of the RIAA but was spun off in 2003, collects performance royalties.
posted by verb at 1:39 PM on January 20, 2012


Soundexchange collects royalties for internet radio (and other digital transmission). ASCAP (and BMI) collects royalties for public performance.
posted by empath at 1:46 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


ASCAP, BMI, SoundExchange, and SESAC are all listed on WikiPedia's page of "Performance Rights Organizations." There are differences between them, but they're essentially irrelevant for the point I was trying to make.

Is there something you'd like to say?
posted by verb at 1:55 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


clorox wrote: The wording in the article gave me the impression that what they did was more along the lines of being asked to take down a file accessed through megaupload.com/123ABC and complying, but not also taking down megaupload.com/download/123ABC even though they both lead to exactly the same file. Like locking the doors of a car but leaving the windows down and the keys on the seat.

No, a link would always be of the form (I'm going from memory) megaupload.com/?id=ABC123456. The same file might also be at id=ABC654321 or ZYX123456, but they're all just opaque ID numbers, it's not like one was at megaupload.com/?id=ABC123456 and the same file was at megaupload.com/download/?id=ABC123456 and so on.

That's as precisely the same as the Usenet providers work as is allowed by the differing technologies.

verb wrote: Er. How is this about data privacy? It seems like the real issue is that MegaUpload wasn't taking any of the basic precautions to distance themselves from illegal use, and was actively paying users to reward them for sharing copyrighted files on the site.

Actively paying for having uploaded something that turned out to be popular. Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to. How high did the actual constructive knowledge of copyrighted material go? Were the emails those of functionaries who didn't bother to report their findings to management? It'll be interesting.

Note that I'm not saying that MU is or isn't guilty of operating outside the safe harbor in the DMCA. I simply can't know that at this point.

TBH, I think the actual knowledge disqualification is stupid. Either a person/company responds to takedown notices or they do not. If they do, they should not be liable for user-posted content, period. (unless they are the user posting the content, of course!) How often do we on metafilter post links to copyrighted material of questionable authorization?
posted by wierdo at 3:34 PM on January 20, 2012


Either a person/company responds to takedown notices or they do not.

It's not that simple. They had a hard ceiling on how many takedown requests Time Warner was allowed to file daily (5,000 per day!).

If the scale of the unauthorized uploading dwarfs the scale of the allotted takedown notices, are they responding to takedown notices or not? (The notion that they could limit DMCA removal requests seems outlandish to me.)

unless they are the user posting the content, of course!

"Employees even allegedly uploaded content themselves, such as a BBC Earth episode uploaded in 2008."

I don't think anything in this case is black and white. It should be very interesting.

How often do we on metafilter post links to copyrighted material of questionable authorization?

Good question. I have certainly had comments removed that included links to download unauthorized copyright content. If you post a link to download a movie or album, it will be removed. If you post a link to a copyrighted book or article on Scribd.com ... not so much.

I would bet that MetaFilter complies with all DMCA takedown requests and doesn't have a limit of how many one provider can send daily.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:13 PM on January 20, 2012


Employees, not owners, not management. I seriously doubt the news release would have read the way it did if they had evidence that uploading was widespread within the company.

It doesn't strike me as outlandish that there would be a limit on how much paperwork can processed in a single day. So they allegedly limited one studio to 5,000 notices a day? What about the rest of the major studios, or the RIAA. Or all the software companies? Without some kind of limit, the system is ripe for abuse.

Is there any evidence that they didn't comply with takedown requests that were actually received?

Here on MetaFilter, there are presently thousands of links to copyrighted content of questionable authorization, including all or parts of television shows, musical works, films, and yes, books. We just make you read it on scribd, watch it on Youtube, or whatever. I don't think that distinction will make a difference given what has happened to torrent sites.
posted by wierdo at 4:28 PM on January 20, 2012


yeah yeah copyrightleftrightleft but look at this:

The Best Worst Photos of Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:11 PM on January 20, 2012


Just read what Dickens had to say about the subject.

That link was fascinating reading, BTW. Basically, mid-1800s developing America is early-2000 developing China, using piracy as an economic and social bootstrap. Good stuff, thanks.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:24 PM on January 20, 2012


Is there any evidence that they didn't comply with takedown requests that were actually received?

To give an idea of how this worked, I'll mention again that I work for a company that produces educational videos. We generally put about 40 hours of work into producing a 4 hour training video, between the research and the scripting and the setup and the final editing and the transcoding.

We also spent about six to ten man-months building a video transcoding, hosting, and streaming platform as well as iOS, Android, and Roku apps. We released the platform itself as open source, so other people don't have to go through the same crap just to do video hosting. If you want to start your own Netflix style video streaming service, you can either take the software and DIY, or you can hire us to do it for you.

We have about 40 hours of free video that people can watch without paying, and about ten times that behind the paywall. It's all streaming. Every other week we add another 4-10 hours of paid content and another hour or so of free content. We're now bringing on other topical experts to do educational videos and share in the revenue; there are enough paid subscribers to the service that it's self-sustaining, it's growing, and larger companies are licensing our service to do in-house training and reference materials for their staff.

If people copy and share our content, it's not a question of "try before they buy" -- we've got a large library of free content and people can see the full catalog of paid content before they sign up. It's not a question of people needing the ability to watch the videos offline -- previously, we sold the same videos in both DVD and digital form. Roughly 5% of our customers purchased DVDs, and of the 95% who purchased the digital download versions, the vast majority said they wanted streaming versions instead because they disliked keeping 10-15 gigs of training materials around on their drives. Since going all-streaming, about 1 in 200 customers has requested offline-viewable versions of the videos and we gave them access. Nor is it a question of big media conglomerates trying to act as middlemen -- we're doing 100% of the production and distribution and customers pay us directly for our content.

Yet, every week, one of our staff also has the job of googling for our company's name with "site:megaupload.com" and "site:mediafire.com", recording the dozens (sometimes hundreds) of links to copies of our videos, and filling out the takedown request forms. Sometimes the links go away. Sometimes they don't. But every week at least some of our subscribers pay us money, capture the streaming video content, re-encode it, and upload it to those services. For a while, these ripped and uploaded copies of our videos were being promoted via throwaway twitter accounts, disposable blogs, and forums -- with agressive SEO to drive as many visitors as possible. Until we did our own agressive SEO work, our site was pushed to the second page of results for our own videos.

If there's no way to recoup the cost in raw man-hours of producing and recording technical training videos, we won't make them. Not because we're money-grubbing mean people, but because we need to eat and there is other paying work we would do instead.

I absolutely, positively believe that the future of media distribution is changing. I think there are massive opportunities for peer to peer distribution, cutting out middlemen using self-promotion and file hosting services, etc. I also don't think that pursuing legal action against companies like MegaUpload would be a good use of my company's time or resources. But a lot of the defenses of MegaUpload that I'm seeing thrown around in this thread are hard to swallow given what I've seen over the past year or so. We didn't see people distributing our content via bittorrent or dropbox. Instead, we saw people deliberately doing SEO campaigns to drive traffic to MegaUpload for "free" versions of all the content we produced. Barring personal animosity, the only motivation I can see for that kind of action was the revenue-share model that MegaUpload employed.
posted by verb at 5:52 PM on January 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


LA Times: Feds push a few novel theories in MegaUpload case

The indictment the Justice Department obtained this month against MegaUpload, a popular online locker and file-sharing service, includes allegations that company executives personally uploaded and downloaded copyrighted content -- a familiar accusation in online piracy cases. But it adds a couple of intriguing twists that blur the distinction between actions that promote piracy and those that discourage it.
posted by mediated self at 7:56 PM on January 20, 2012


Megaupload chief had wild ride before arrest -- "Internet cowboy has taste for fast cars, high living, strange behavior."
posted by ericb at 8:09 PM on January 20, 2012


gagglezoomer writes "Is anyone else literally shocked that other countries will arrest a person at the request of another country based on allegations by that country that the person is a criminal?"

This is how extradition works most of the time; one is extradited to stand trial not after being tried in abesntia.

tyllwin writes "I have always wondered why states like North Korea or Iran, who have 'Fuck the US' as a centerpiece of their foreign policy aren't falling all over themselves to host these fingers in the eye of the great Satan."

They'd have the same problem the Sealand data haven has: their internet connections have to land someplace and are therefor vulnerable at the border crossing.

jeffburdges writes "There is little functional difference between DropBox-alike and PirateBay-alike, maybe enough they can prosecute one first, but nothing substantive enough to prevent pirates from using any site they choose."

Dropbox-like is action; piratebay like is speech.

delmoi writes "I always wonder -- why do people always take notes on a criminal conspiracy. The Galleon group insider trading ring, those pot-smoking arms dealers from Florida. It just blows my mind that these people are just emailing each other all the time about what they're doing. "

Electronic communications enable huge productivity gains; organizations, even criminal ones, not embracing email et. al. have difficulty competing with organizations that do.

davejay writes "I'm looking forward to the crackdown on [ordinary, everyday innocent thing that we all use] because it can be used for [illicit thing that it can be used for, but isn't the primary use]."

Bought any pseudo-ephedirine lately?

dejah420 writes "But if all content is free, then who pays to make the next set of content? "

Self financing or public or private patronage.
posted by Mitheral at 10:10 PM on January 20, 2012


verb wrote: Instead, we saw people deliberately doing SEO campaigns to drive traffic to MegaUpload for "free" versions of all the content we produced. Barring personal animosity, the only motivation I can see for that kind of action was the revenue-share model that MegaUpload employed.

That indeed sucks, but MU (allegedly) wasn't even paying the uploaders, just giving them credit vouchers. However, if they indeed have a pattern of not complying with takedown notices, they deserve sanction for that. I still don't think seizing the domain and all the servers before adjudication is appropriate. Nobody would tolerate that if it were a bank or there was some kind of systematic fraud among insiders at a retail chain.

If specific employees committed criminal copyright infringement by uploading material, they should be subject to the penalties as well.

I'm not even saying there's no chance they deserve to have company-killing fines levied after trial. Shutting them down in this way, however, sets a bad precedent. I don't think anyone has argued that it was not at least partly a platform for perfectly legitimate file distribution.

I guess what bothers me is that I haven't seen anybody draw a good distinction between MU and Usenet hosts that carry the binary groups.
posted by wierdo at 11:08 PM on January 20, 2012


weirdo, I agree about the nature of the shutdown. Mostly, I was hoping to give a bit of perspective about how the dynamics of the MegaUpload ecosystem played out beyond the stereotypical "Britney Spears Bootlegs vs. Legitimate Indie Films" extremes that are often offered. My experiences with them place MegaUpload in the general zone of SEO shops, linkfarmers, and so on -- but it certainly looks like there are people who were using the service for totally legitimate stuff.
posted by verb at 12:04 AM on January 21, 2012


Oh, there's no doubt that they were/are at least a bit shady, but half of the Internet, even much of the nominally not-shady part, looks shady without AdBlock.
posted by wierdo at 12:43 AM on January 21, 2012


Explainer: How can the US seize a "Hong Kong site" like Megaupload?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:19 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Electronic communications enable huge productivity gains; organizations, even criminal ones, not embracing email et. al. have difficulty competing with organizations that do.

I kind of expected criminal organizations to be at the bleeding edge of cryptography implementation. Welp, now I've got a good argument against the folks who favor legal restrictions on cryptography.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:25 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bizarre Details Of Megaupload Founder Arrest Emerge.
posted by ericb at 8:32 AM on January 21, 2012


Two lessons from the Megaupload seizure
posted by homunculus at 1:32 PM on January 21, 2012


Techdirt's Mike Masnick has some concerns about the indictment.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:50 PM on January 21, 2012


I love that bandcamp blog entry, mrgrimm, definitely corresponds with the independent film situation. Imho, bandcamp.com deserves an fpp, clearly they know metafilter's tastes.

I personally prefer the 'stratification' offered by torrents over bitlockers, i.e. spend hours torrenting the discography vs. pay bandcamp.com, magnatune.com, etc. for immediate access. Ideally, companies like bandcamp.com would post lower quality versions to thepiratebay.org, at al. with notes pointing to purchasable versions.

Y Combinator has posted Kill Hollywood call for proposals from venture capital stage startups.

posted by jeffburdges at 5:13 PM on January 21, 2012


Btw, check out the NinjaVideo saga and Ninja News Network too.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:38 PM on January 21, 2012


Digital Lockers A Growing Piracy Concern -- "Some 3 million Americans every month used Megaupload, which is among the largest digital lockers."
posted by ericb at 3:59 PM on January 22, 2012


Filesonic has fallen. Sharing is dead. THEY ARE COMING.
posted by elizardbits at 4:16 PM on January 22, 2012


Who Is Kim Dotcom? The Story Behind Megaupload's Larger-Than-Life Founder.
posted by ericb at 4:18 PM on January 22, 2012


And thousands of geeks in Asia and Eastern Europe saw their career prospects widen dramatically.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:21 PM on January 22, 2012


Other sites are shutting off sharing functionality.. uploaded.to and filesonic so far..
posted by empath at 4:56 PM on January 22, 2012


Btw, if you're a bitlocker user, but switching to bittorrent now, you should learn about peer block lists (faq).. or ideally explore the F2F repeating bittorrent client OneSwarm. I'd vaguely thought about making a post on OneSwarm once upon a time, never found the time.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:42 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone know about this Hamachi thing? It looks closed source and fly-by-night.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:48 PM on January 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


More sites shut down sharing.
posted by empath at 7:02 AM on January 23, 2012


jeffburdges: I used Hamachi about a year or so ago to set up a small VPN so I could host Minecraft games when my router didn't feel like forwarding ports correctly, for which it worked fine. It's a Log Me In product, so its not fly-by-night, though it is closed source.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:34 AM on January 23, 2012


MediaFire CEO: Unlike Megaupload, our business model isn’t built on piracy

It frankly sounds trivial to avoid doing the perp walk like Kim : Don't solicit piracy specifically. Implement DMCA takedowns. And issue paypal chargebacks for accounts found profiting form piracy.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:32 PM on January 23, 2012


U.S. Attorney Chasing Megaupload Is Former Piracy Fighter -- "Neil MacBride, the U.S. attorney who indicted MegaUpload founder Kim DotCom, is the former chief of antipiracy at the Business Software Alliance."
posted by ericb at 2:53 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Renowned Attorney Bennett To Represent Megaupload -- "When Megaupload executives arrive in court to answer charges that they orchestrated a massive online piracy scheme, they'll be backed by a prominent lawyer who has defended Bill Clinton against sexual harassment charges and Enron against allegations of corporate fraud."
posted by ericb at 2:53 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Excite News?! Am I in 2Q12?)

I still think the case should be interesting.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:06 PM on January 23, 2012


empath wrote: More sites shut down sharing.

Oh, it's that chilling effect that some said wouldn't actually happen. It's like seeing Bigfoot!

posted by wierdo at 5:27 PM on January 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


My lord, can I not even close tags properly now?
posted by wierdo at 5:28 PM on January 23, 2012


They got Sven. Also, from the link:
Toohey said Echternach had travelled to Germany from the Philippines, but cannot be extradited because German law does not permit extradition of its own citizens.
So I'm vindicated on that. Wonder what it means for Sven?
posted by scalefree at 8:36 PM on January 23, 2012


Bennett vs MacBride, in the fight of the decade! Paging Judge Ito.
posted by Theta States at 5:26 AM on January 24, 2012


MegaUpload Loses Top Lawyer After ‘Outside’ Pressure
I hear the extradition flight will change planes in Australia to pick up some kangaroos too.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:13 AM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kim Dotcom: 'Come for coffee, don't forget the cocaine'.
posted by ericb at 12:25 PM on January 25, 2012


MegaUpload's lawyer makes his case to Ars Technica, comparing the site to YouTube and decrying the lack of due process. He doesn't really address the DOJ's allegations in any detail, though, apart from noting they were selectively edited (about which, duh).
posted by whir at 10:33 AM on January 26, 2012


Er, that is to say that the damning statements from MegaUpload emails, quoted in the indictment, were selectively edited.
posted by whir at 10:35 AM on January 26, 2012


Wow, they have a shit lawyer. "Someone else did it first! Only not the bits we're getting busted on but that shouldn't matter!"
posted by Artw at 10:35 AM on January 26, 2012


Wow, they have a shit lawyer.

I would be a bit concerned that my lawyer was making his/her case to a Web site, instead of planning a strategy for trial.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:15 AM on January 26, 2012


I think that's where they think the trial is.
posted by Artw at 11:17 AM on January 26, 2012


What will you do when the US comes for you?
posted by jeffburdges at 5:13 PM on January 26, 2012


MegaUpload Users Plan to Sue the FBI over Lost Files
posted by homunculus at 5:38 PM on January 26, 2012


From jeffburges's link:

"...She related the story of how a Canadian Privacy Commissioner sided with US authorities to force CIBC to divulge private customer records because the bank outsourced data processing to a US company.

The Alberta commissioner's subsequent report advised government agencies not to outsource operations to the US, especially because US secrecy provisions made it difficult to monitor how the law was used.
"

Holy crap.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:58 PM on January 26, 2012


Megaupload: A Lot Less Guilty Than You Think by Jennifer Granick, former Executive Director of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School & Civil Liberties Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
posted by scalefree at 9:07 PM on January 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Feds: Megaupload user files may be deleted starting Thursday
posted by homunculus at 10:53 AM on January 30, 2012


"The United States copied selected Mega Servers and copied selected data from some of the other Mega Servers, but did not remove any of the Mega Servers from the premises."

Doesn't this leave the door wide open for the defense to argue that the prosecution's copy might not be a copy at all, but a new creation that just conveniently happens to "prove" exactly what needs to be proven? (Maybe the word "MegaRailroaded" gets uttered?)
posted by Sys Rq at 12:58 PM on January 30, 2012


It does seem odd that law enforcement would be able to confiscate something, keep a selectively edited copy, and then allow the original to be destroyed. Even if there is no shenanigans going on in terms of the prosecution fudging their copy of the data, they could easily omit data that would help the defense's case. Is it legal in the US for law enforcement to gain full access to a set of data (like emails, voice mail, etc.), make a selective copy of parts of the data, and then allow the original to be destroyed, without ensuring that the defense has a chance to see the full set of data? For example if the Feds seize someone's Gmail account, can they just grab the emails that help their case and then have Google delete the rest?
posted by burnmp3s at 1:27 PM on January 30, 2012


Megaupload Lawyer Says User Data Will Be Held For Two Weeks

I'd agree this sounds like the U.S. trying to railroad megaupload by destroying the user data that'd prove the service was used for activities besides copyright infringement.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:38 AM on January 31, 2012


Deleting all this data is totally bizarre. The cops routinely store tonnes of seized drugs which are outright illegal until the end of the trial.
posted by Mitheral at 8:24 AM on January 31, 2012


EFF Seeking Information of Legal Users of Megaupload
posted by jeffburdges at 9:50 AM on February 1, 2012


And... another one bites the dust.
posted by 8dot3 at 5:05 AM on February 6, 2012


We're slowly moving towards the "world wide hash table" here, i.e. any file at any time merely by knowing it's hash. There has been an effort by thepiratebay.org to move towards magnet links, meaning you could share the download keys for all 214 movies from 2011 in a longish email.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:56 AM on February 6, 2012


How Special Forces Busted Into Kim Dotcom’s Mansion
posted by homunculus at 11:50 AM on February 7, 2012


Funny how initial reports made it sound like he had a gun with him in the safe room yet that turns out not to be the case. Someone clearly knows the right buttons to press to make sure sentiment remains against Dotcom.
posted by wierdo at 5:46 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


From the start of this story I've been noticing a significant number of narrative details I can only classify as propaganda, provided by law enforcement or prosecution sources. One that's highlighted in the video linked by homunculus is that Kim was found "near a shotgun" in his Panic room. I thought that was an odd phrasing from the get-go. Now we see the truth, that there was a gun safe in the room but he was nowhere near it.

There's been a sophisticated, deliberate effort to spin many elements of this whole thing to make Kimble & his co-defendants appear more dangerous, criminal & unlikeable than they would be otherwise. That it's being done at the behest of the entertainment industry doesn't help either; it turns the Law from a privileged institution empowered by us to impartially decide right from wrong into just another bunch of thugs who happen to have a lot of power.
posted by scalefree at 6:00 PM on February 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


File Sharing in the Post MegaUpload Era
American ISPs now pay loads more because now the traffic all comes via trans-atlantic links.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:27 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Megaupload Co-Founder Released On Bail
posted by jeffburdges at 10:37 AM on February 15, 2012


Feds seize $50 million in Megaupload assets, lodge new charges
posted by homunculus at 11:05 AM on February 19, 2012


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