Today, the FBI took down exceptionally popular filesharing website Megaupload. It's hard to see it as anything less than a power-play after the anti-SOPA and anti-PIPA strikes yesterday, but on the contrary, it appears that the Fibbies have been after Megaupload for about two years. Since the company has servers in Virginia, they had an 'in', and since New Zealand has an extradition treaty, it was possible to go out and arrest the company's owners, seize their bank accounts and take down their domain name. The owners face up to 55 years in gaol. Yep, 55 years for hosting files in cyberspace. Those annoying FBI warnings at the beginning of every legitimate DVD (but not on pirated DVDs) are true. They mean business.
When I heard about it, my first feeling was, "Great! Since Megaupload has 50,000,000 visitors every day, then we can quickly find out if MPAA and RIAA's stupid claims that every download is a lost sale is true. Because on Friday, we are going to see fifty million downloads of paid MP3s, movies, games and porn.
Edit: I originally posted a new IP address for them, but I've removed it as it may not be legit and may host malware. Don't visit it.
In which case a) sorry and b) now we can watch for those five hundred million paid downloads that are due to happen Friday and every day subsequently!
[Picture carefully cropped from a royalty-free Dover image
taken out of one of their free mailings I get on a weekly basis]
Megaupload makes a fortune, and it will be hard for them to claim that all their files were fair-use, or home movies of Gramps pushing Little Billy on a swing, so naturally they were a good first place for the FBI to go. However, it does make you wonder - if the FBI can take down infringing "pirate" sites like Megaupload, why do they need PIPA or SOPA? They already have the necessary powers to take down and prosecute.
They need the bills passed because they give them the ability to censor websites and insist they are removed from search engines. By also insisting that websites self-police, the new bills would simply cause the hated YouTube to disappear. YouTube couldn't possibly check every video and every soundtrack and of course, certainly couldn't tell if a video or soundtrack gave a link to a censored site. YouTube is home to videos showing such things as abuse of power, and the US government would be just as happy as the Chinese government, or the Arab dictators, if YouTube didn't exist.
In an exciting development, anonymous immediately went after several government websites and shuttered them. We'll soon see if they can recover as fast as Megaupload.
SOPA and PIPA.
Normal media on the bust (LA Times).
Ars Technica on why the government selected Megaupload.
RT on the counterattacks.
Or follow #Megaupload on Twitter.
Edited: I've seen figures that put MU's traffic at fifty million a day, not five hundred million. Edited to show the lower figure. But either way, are any musicians you know flush with cash over the last three days? No, thought not.