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United States

Jan 20, 2012

Megaupload latest casualty in new round of cyberwars

The filesharing company Megaupload has been taken down by the US Department of Justice - which was immediately brought down itself.

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In a dramatic response to the increasingly sucessful internet campaign to halt the draconian SOPA and PIPA bills before Congress, US authorities have targeted one of the major filesharing sites in an international operation.

Overnight, the Megaupload site and related portals were taken down by the Department of Justice after a grand jury indicted the company. The charges against Megaupload are extensive and reek of overkill; they include racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering and copyright infringement, with the indictment terming it all “Mega Conspiracy”. Four people were arrested in New Zealand, including millionaire CEO Kim Schmitz (AKA “Kim Dotcom”), a convicted embezzler and inside trader. Assets worth $50 million are said to have been seized as well.

In response, the websites of the Department of Justice, the Universal Music Group, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America were all taken down in a denial-of-service attack. At the time of writing, the Department of Justice site was still down. The attack, using a newer version of the LOIC software, appeared to have been coordinated by Anonymous, and was said to have been even bigger in user numbers than the attacks that took the Visa, Mastercard and PayPal sites down in response to the financial blockade of WikiLeaks in 2010.

A number of prosecutions are still pending in the US from those 2010 attacks. This time around, LOIC users are being told of the need to protect their IP addresses, and being offered legal services in the event they’re arrested.

Megaupload isn’t a torrent-based site like, for example, Pirate Bay (linking to which, incidentally, would be illegal in the US under SOPA) but an open file-sharing site used for uploading and downloading large files — which inevitably includes copyrighted content as well as legitimate content for corporate and personal use. The company behind it has long insisted it operates legally by complying with the requirements of the US Digital Millenium Copyright Act, but it is a major target of the copyright industry, and has also been blocked by China, Saudia Arabia and Malaysia.

US authorities insisted the takedown and arrests were unrelated to the SOPA debate, a claim made all the harder to believe given the US Department of Justice’s recent history of attacks on the internet. It is the DoJ that demanded confidential information from social media companies and Google about WikiLeaks supporters, and tried to keep it secret; it is the DoJ that brought together the parties that plotted an effort to destroy WikiLeaks and smear journalists and activists; it was the DoJ that proposed in November to criminalise breaching internet companies’ terms of service (you know, those 20,000 word screeds none of us ever read?).

The interesting thing about the raids, however, is that they demonstrate the remarkable power the copyright industry has under existing law to attack those it deems its enemies. The cartel was able to rely on the US Department of Justice and an international police operation to attack a company over what, before the internet, was a purely civil matter of copyright breach. In a world where the New Zealand police readily do the bidding of the US copyright industry, the provisions of SOPA are far beyond overkill.

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49 comments

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49 thoughts on “Megaupload latest casualty in new round of cyberwars

  1. Suzanne Blake

    Why cant we arrest the whalers in our waters if international arrests are so easy

  2. shepherdmarilyn

    Because the waters are not actually ours, we just pretend they are.

  3. Scott

    “New Zealand police readily do the bidding of the US copyright industry”

    Oh come on. The NZ police are doing the bidding of the US department of Justice.

    You can’t handle and distribute stolen goods (which is what Megaupload was doing) without some sort of effect. I think this was DOJ going after the low hanging fruit. Next will be bittorrent and piratebay.

    It’s about time for this sort of stuff. Western countries do not have the advantage of low wages present in the developing world. The only competitive advantage we have is our ability to create IP. Why shouldn’t this be protected? We need the US, Australian and other like minded authorities to try and ensure that if you create content, software, music or any other form of intellectual property, the creators will get properly compensated for it’s use worldwide. If people can get it for free, it’s pure market failure meaning those that do the right thing (i.e pay) end up paying more due to firms compensating for this leakage effect.

    Time for the free riders to start buying tickets.

  4. Suzanne Blake

    @ shepherdmarilyn

    Macquarie Island is ours, we should enforce the 12 mile limit

  5. Oscar Jones

    Yet again Bernard promotes the fantasy that sites like megaupload are innocent file sharing hosts when the majority of it’s traffic is to steal copyrighted work.

    If this piracy continues then we will have no blockbuster films, no budget art films, no movie stars and no actors who barely live on the residuals from TV work, no concerts, no X-Factor and so on.

    Yet not a word about the gigantic rapacious profit making corporations like Google who are predators-they simply link to other’s work (or host it on Blogger…does anyone want links to the tens of thousands of pirate blogs?) who because of their claims of innocence (turning a blind eye) they are going to force governments to impose draconian laws.

    This is no difference to a vast drug chain of supply. If any business knows it is used for illegal purposes they would be in the dock. All the search engines know they are used but they do not self regulate.

    It’s a sad day when I have to agree with Rupert Murdoch but the slavish devotion dished out to the t-shirted Zuckerbergs who are simply the new Murdoch style moguls is weird. The one thing Anonymous has shown us is that there are tens of thousands of kids sitting in their bedrooms who are every bit as clever as the modern day deities like the late Steve Jobs.

    The internet may be the modern day frontier but the carpetbaggers are controlling it.

  6. MartyC

    OSCAR JONES – “This is no difference to a vast drug chain of supply”
    Yeah, thank god all out laws and police and prisons were able to solve the drug problem, now all we have to do is apply the same thinking here and the world will be wonderul again.

    You can’t put the toothpaste back into this particular tube. Like it or not filesharing is a reallity, and you can’t wipe it out any more than you can wipe out drugs or prostitution. Businesses will take a hit, some may not survive, but swiming against the current will just make them drown faster.

  7. Woody

    This clearly sounds like a good idea by those ignorant to how the internet and servers like this one operate. This is like closing down Australia Post because people have mailed illegal fireworks, for example. The company states they comply with the US Digital Millenium Act, so when notified that a copyright infringement may be taking place, the suspect “upload” is removed. This is exactly how You Tube operates, and nobody is closing that down.

    It’s also worth remembering the loss of many legitimate uploads and data storage seemingly lost by closing this business.

    The entertainment industry needs to get onside with the internet, but they just don’t seem to know how. Simultaneous world wide releases, quicker sell through at realistic prices (especially in this country) etc.

    One argument you never hear is how a film/TV show seen on the net is as good as the old days of hearing a song on the radio and leading to actual physical sales of the item. “The Dark Knight” was the most bootlegged film of all time. It also went on to break box office records and sold in enormous quantities. And I can remember when they let you listen to an album before you purchased it…in the store! God forbid you do that online.

    We’re over protecting an industry who holds it’s customers in contempt. Ask the cinema exhibitors. They’re virtually only making money out of the candy bar these days when Adam Sandler’s latest “comedy” cost $80 million to make…….No, there’s no funny numbers going on in any of this as we say goodbye to yet another neighbourhood video rental outlet.

  8. Masters Jill

    i’m pretty sue if they started something like a itunes for movies/tv shows it’d take off like lightening. what itunes has shown is people don’t mind paying for content if it’s delivered in a form they want, i.e. quick access playable on all their modern devices and doesn’t *cost the earth. sure, digital file playing in home cinema is in relative infancy, but with apple getting into the market it should equal a speed up of things. like it or not, apple has brand power, that equals market saturation and technology adoption. until that happens, filesharing (i.e. “priacy” arrrggghhhh…….) will continue and until film/tv studios wake up to what people want they’ll forever be behind the 8 ball.

    *of course, with the money movie stars demand i’m sure this will remain a fantasy, another fail.

  9. Bekric Zoran

    This clearly sounds like a good idea by those ignorant to how the internet and servers like this one operate.

    After they got sued by Verizon, YouTube put a Content Management System (CMS) in place that enables copyright holders to fingerprint their content (audio, video or both) and get an alert whenever content matching theirs is uploaded. The rights holder can then decide what they want to do — remove the duplicate content, block it in some regions, just track it or even make money off it. There are quibbles one could make about it, but overall it works incredibly well.

    So, it seems parts of the internet already don’t work the way you describe. It’s not even new technology any more.

    If Megaupload had instituted something similar, they could have had the benefits of their legitimate business while avoiding pirated content and the risks associated with it. They could even have made money legitimately off such content if the copyright holder(s) had decided to leave it up or to monetize it.

    People act as if the way the internet works is due to natural law rather than human decisions, but that’s not the case. It never has been.

  10. Bekric Zoran

    Oh, one also has to admire the valiant members of Anonymous, whose idea of supporting free speech is blocking the speech of those they disagree with.

  11. Woody

    …like I said, as per the Digital Millenium Act, all the proper copyright holders have to do is inform the server and the suspicious data is removed.

    Again, is Australia Post liable for and totally informed of everything they’re handling? Of course not, and as the recent case here against iinet demonstrates, legally it’s a heck of a long bow.

  12. drsmithy

    You can’t handle and distribute stolen goods (which is what Megaupload was doing) […]

    No, they weren’t.

    Copyright violation is not theft – legally, morally, ethically, or any other -ly. It is copyright violation. No amount of propaganda from copyright lobbyists and their brainwashed peons will change this fact.

    So long as Megaupload had some facility for copyright holders to notify them that they were redistributing copyrighted works without authorisation, and responded to reasonable requests within reasonable timeframes, then they’ve done nothing wrong.

  13. drsmithy

    After they got sued by Verizon, YouTube put a Content Management System (CMS) in place that enables copyright holders to fingerprint their content (audio, video or both) and get an alert whenever content matching theirs is uploaded. The rights holder can then decide what they want to do — remove the duplicate content, block it in some regions, just track it or even make money off it. There are quibbles one could make about it, but overall it works incredibly well.

    No, it doesn’t. It means ten year old kids who want to share a video of themselves dancing with their Grandma can’t do so because their idiotic system has fingerprinted the song in the background and deleted their upload.

  14. drsmithy

    Yet not a word about the gigantic rapacious profit making corporations like Google who are predators-they simply link to other’s work (or host it on Blogger…does anyone want links to the tens of thousands of pirate blogs?) who because of their claims of innocence (turning a blind eye) they are going to force governments to impose draconian laws.

    By your logic I’m in the wrong if I tell someone about an awesome song I just heard on the radio.

    If people don’t want anyone and everyone to see the content they publish on the web, then the solution is very simple, very easy, very well understood, and very obvious. They just need to stick it behind a members-only wall like Crikey, The Australian, or any of a zillion other websites do.

    This is no difference to a vast drug chain of supply. If any business knows it is used for illegal purposes they would be in the dock.

    People use the post, couriers and phones to perform illegal acts all the time. Are you saying those organisations are culpable for those acts ?

  15. Bekric Zoran

    @WOODY …like I said, as per the Digital Millenium Act, all the proper copyright holders have to do is inform the server and the suspicious data is removed.

    Yes, and the Content Management System makes that easier by automatically informing the rights holder that it’s there.

    God forbid that we should use technology to automate things or make them easier. I mean, we’ve never used technology for anything like that before.

  16. Bekric Zoran

    @DRSMITHY No, it doesn’t. It means ten year old kids who want to share a video of themselves dancing with their Grandma can’t do so because their idiotic system has fingerprinted the song in the background and deleted their upload.

    Actually, that demonstrates that it does work. You just don’t like the decision the rights holder made on what to do and rather than take it up with the rights holder, you’re blaming the technology.

  17. drsmithy

    Actually, that demonstrates that it does work. You just don’t like the decision the rights holder made on what to do and rather than take it up with the rights holder, you’re blaming the technology.

    No, I’m blaming the insane Copyright law. The technology merely encourages its enforcement and expansion.

  18. Oscar Jones

    The victim is being blamed here for piracy.

    Because they are behind the times or not as savvy as the young Turks of the net and so on, Because content can be stolen therefore it’s OK to do so.

    People are perpetuating a fantasy here-that corporations like Google or Megaupload respond to DMCA notices.

    Few people have obviously never been through the process and even the normally reliable Richard Akland on SMH repeats Google’s myth that it responds within 5 hours. Rubbish. Try 5 days ..try 5 weeks if you are lucky in which time thousands of illegal downloads can be made and distributed outwards like a fan.

    People are not pointing the finger at the real villians here : Google, Yahoo and those fighting these laws are no better than the giants trying to impose them. They facilitate anonymous bloggers who defame, insult and point to where illegal content can be had (or often host it). And then they demand you obey US laws under the very dodgy principal of ‘freedom of speech’ all the time claiming they are opening the world to freedom.

    If they co-operated with content owners -and considering the mega profits they make this would not be hard-then we would not have governments attempting to do it for them.

    Postal services must be law do everything possible to detect illegal goods (and they destroy pirated goods if they discover them) -why are service providers on the net given such a free ride?

  19. Oscar Jones

    “People use the post, couriers and phones to perform illegal acts all the time. Are you saying those organisations are culpable for those acts ?”

    yes indeed DRSMITHY- these organisations would have the full weight of the law down on them like a ton of bricks if they knowingly allow their service to transport illicit goods.

    Why is the net any different ?.

    It is clear few people have ever been through the DMCA process which is a minefield for anyone other say, Warner Bros of Fox.

    It is also clear that few people value the creative process and for some reason dismiss those who own copyright-even if it is Murdoch. Bizarre.

  20. drsmithy

    Postal services must be law do everything possible to detect illegal goods (and they destroy pirated goods if they discover them) -why are service providers on the net given such a free ride?

    This is so laughably false there’s no need to even consider responding to the rest of your rhetoric.

    Neither the post, nor the telephone companies, nor any other organisation has any obligation to do “everything possible” because it is recognised as plainly obvious that this requirement would make providing any such service utterly impractical. If they happen to identify anything illegal, or it is brought to their attention, they are obligated to act. That is all.

  21. drsmithy

    yes indeed DRSMITHY- these organisations would have the full weight of the law down on them like a ton of bricks if they knowingly allow their service to transport illicit goods.

    But those organisations are used for illegal acts all the time. The people running them know this. Legislators know this. Law enforcers know this.

    Yet, strangely, “the full weight of the law” has not come “down on them like a ton of bricks”.

    Firstly, because there’s that pesky presumption of innocence thing underpinning our legal system.

    Secondly, because we recognise that running any of these services would be utterly impractical if they were forced to act in the way you want them to (and suggest they already do).

    Why is the net any different ?.

    It’s not, which is the point you seem to be having trouble with. You are the one arguing we should treat the net differently.

    Australia Post has no obligation to examine every package to ascertain its contents are legal. Telstra has no obligation to monitor and/or record every call to ascertain if they are being used for harassment, conspiracy, or other illegal purposes. Why should Google have to ascertain everything it links to is in compliance with Copyright laws ?

    (This doesn’t even touch upon ridiculous implication that Google – or anyone else – should be expected to enforce Copyright law across multiple jurisdictions.)

  22. Klaus Stiefel

    Just to de-Orwellify the discourse a little bit here.

    No one involved in this matter has committed piracy. Piracy is armed robbery at sea.

    Copy-right infringement is very different from jumping over a ship’s side with a loaded AK47.

    It is a victory of the Hollywood & recording industry lobbies that the term for a really, really bad crime is used for the act of copying files from one hard drive to another.

  23. Bekric Zoran

    It is a victory of the Hollywood & recording industry lobbies that the term for a really, really bad crime is used for the act of copying files from one hard drive to another.

    Well, they had help from a bunch of file-sharing activists who decided to call themselves “the Pirate Bay”. Perhaps they were trying to be ironic, but I think that decision rendered the term legitimate, like it or not.

  24. Woody

    Bekric, if You Tube is an example of your copyright management system in action, then it’s a laughable failure……and that’s the point you constantly fail to grasp. You Tube is still full of material that breaches copyright ownership and distribution, and is much more easier to access than files uploaded to a server like Megaupload.

    Oscar Jones, whatever happened to the postal services that delivered anthrax a few years ago? Nothing. The postal service is not responsible for the illegal activity or misuse of it’s customers. It never has been. In fact, customers sign a waiver declaring that parcels especially comply with postal laws. The same as users who use servers like the one closed down agree to do so as long as as what they upload is owned by them and doesn’t infringe copyright.

  25. Bekric Zoran

    Australia Post has no obligation to examine every package to ascertain its contents are legal.

    And yet Customs will open packages at random to check the contents, the Quarantine office will investigate animal and plant products brought into the country, airports will run packages and luggage through chemical sniffers and x-ray machines to detect drugs, explosives and other contraband, council workers will come into your backyard to check for fruit fly infestations, and so on.

    If there were a rash of people sending explosives or anthrax through the mail, I’m sure Australia Post would institute measures to check all suspicious looking packages to try and intercept them.

    You might consider all of these examples outrageous, but that’s how a civilized society works.

    When someone posts links to an uploaded file with a label like “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) DVDRip”, then a site like Megaupload is just being disingenuous when they say they say they had no reason to suspect that it might be pirated content.

  26. Bekric Zoran

    @WOODTY You Tube is still full of material that breaches copyright ownership and distribution, and is much more easier to access than files uploaded to a server like Megaupload.

    Maybe that’s because the rights owners don’t mind it being up there. That seems to be the point you seem to be incapable of grasping: a content management system allows people to make a choice. A lot of people will look at a video of a ten-year-old dancing with their grandmother with a song they happen to own playing in the background and think it’s cute and allow it. Others will be hard-arsed and demand it be taken down. But, either way, they’re the ones who get to make the decision. Not you, not me, not some tech company executive, them.

    By the same token, if someone else decides to use the video of the kid dancing with his grandmother to sell condoms, the kid or their parents can say “no” and prevent that. It’s all about giving power back to the people.

  27. Woody

    Now the ignorance is in full display. A file as blatant as the one you describe would be removed. Nobody in their right mind could say “they had no reason to suspect that it might be pirated content” as you try to suggest. When did Megaupload say that exactly? You seem to be making up scenarios to sustain your point now. And I still haven’t seen any explanation as to why You Tube and it’s tech savvy copyright management system is a rights free for all and a total failure.

    Yes, we know Australia post do what they can….and Megaupload says they comply with the DMCA. So who is responsible for the legitimate data lost in the closure again??

  28. Woody

    “Maybe that’s because the rights owners don’t mind it being up there.”

    Good grief. Now you’re a mind reader. There are blatant copyright infringements in full view well beyond any “fair use” exceptions.

    The home movie scenario to sell condoms is just desperate. You simply cannot use a home video for commercial purposes or replay via broadcast without the permission of the owner. A waiver would have to be signed for the footage to be used, especially if it identified anyone.

  29. drsmithy

    And yet Customs will open packages at random to check the contents, the Quarantine office will investigate animal and plant products brought into the country, airports will run packages and luggage through chemical sniffers and x-ray machines to detect drugs, explosives and other contraband, council workers will come into your backyard to check for fruit fly infestations, and so on.

    Firstly, note the words “at random” above. You are not arguing Google should inspect content “at random”, but that it should investigate *all content* not only that it hosts, but (quite inexplicably) that it links to as well.

    Secondly, your comparison is invalid. The core and fundamental purpose of these organisations is to search for and find illegal goods. The same is not true of the post office, Telstra, Google, Yahoo, your ISP, or anyone else except the copyright holder.

    If there were a rash of people sending explosives or anthrax through the mail, I’m sure Australia Post would institute measures to check all suspicious looking packages to try and intercept them.

    Once again, note the words “suspicious looking packages” above. Not all packages, as you want Google to do.

    Note also that even if Australia Post were looking for “suspicious looking packages”, they would still have no culpability for any that were not detected, whereas you are insisting Google be held responsible for all copyright violations they somehow facilitate.

    You might consider all of these examples outrageous, but that’s how a civilized society works.

    They’re not outrageous, they just have no relevance to supporting your position.

    When someone posts links to an uploaded file with a label like “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) DVDRip”, then a site like Megaupload is just being disingenuous when they say they say they had no reason to suspect that it might be pirated content.

    Wow. You really don’t have a clue. Do you seriously think there’s a human involved in the process of putting something on these websites who could make the decision ?

    You do realise that mail is no longer sorted by hand and switchboard operators haven’t been around for decades, right ?

  30. drsmithy

    But, either way, they’re the ones who get to make the decision. Not you, not me, not some tech company executive, them.

    Wait, what ? You’ve just spent multiple posts arguing that the copyright holder *shouldn’t* be the one making the decision. You’re arguing that the “tech company executive” (more accurately, his delegates or his magical “Content Management System”) should, in fact, not only be making the decision whether some given piece of content is a copyright violation or not, but be held responsible when they make the wrong call.

  31. drsmithy

    Now the ignorance is in full display. A file as blatant as the one you describe would be removed.

    No, it wouldn’t, nor should it be.

    It is no more Megaupload’s responsibility to investigate the contents of every file it hosts for copyright violation than it is Telstra’s responsibility to monitor and record every phone call it processes to identify those involved in harassment, violation of restraining orders, insider trading, etc, etc, etc.

  32. Bekric Zoran

    @ WOODY A file as blatant as the one you describe would be removed.

    And yet I managed to find a file with that very name on the site. Didn’t take much searching either.

    You simply cannot use a home video for commercial purposes or replay via broadcast without the permission of the owner.

    Oh, so now you’re all in favour of content creators having rights? Good. Glad to see you’ve seen the light.

    @ DRSMITHYDo you seriously think there’s a human involved in the process of putting something on these websites who could make the decision ?

    Why isn’t a human being involved in the process? What’s so difficult about setting up an automatic system to alert a human being to potential problems and have them decide what to do?

    The technology isn’t that hard. If Megaupload’s business model is stuck in the twentieth century when such systems didn’t exist, then they really need to move with the times. I don’t see why the rest of the world should be held hostage by their unwillingness to accept innovation.

    You’ve just spent multiple posts arguing that the copyright holder *shouldn’t* be the one making the decision.

    I have never argued that.

    The content management system alerts the copyright holder and then waits for them to decide what they want to do.

    As I wrote in my initial comment: The rights holder can then decide what they want to do — remove the duplicate content, block it in some regions, just track it or even make money off it.

    You’re the one who’s convinced that no human being should be involved in the process — and for some odd reason are projecting that attitude onto me.

    The core and fundamental purpose of these organisations is to search for and find illegal goods. The same is not true of the post office, Telstra, Google, Yahoo, your ISP, or anyone else except the copyright holder.

    So you’re suggesting that what is needed is a new agency whose fundamental purpose will be to investigate files stored on sites such as Megaupload to find those which are illegal?

    Sort of like police regularly checking pawnshops looking for stolen goods.

    Okay, but it seems a little more intrusive and Big Brother than I like.

  33. drsmithy

    Why isn’t a human being involved in the process?

    Same reason you don’t get an operator every time you pick up a phone today.
    Same reason there isn’t someone who reads every single facebook post before it’s allowed to appear.
    Same reason there isn’t someone at the post office opening every letter and parcel.

    What’s so difficult about setting up an automatic system to alert a human being to potential problems and have them decide what to do?

    Automatically detecting what a “potential problem” is would probably be the single most obvious problem.
    Employing sufficient people to check the millions of uploads to megaupload every day is another.
    Deciding which jurisdisction’s copyright laws to apply is another one (at least by your standard).

    The technology isn’t that hard.

    Yes, yes it is.

    If Megaupload’s business model is stuck in the twentieth century when such systems didn’t exist, then they really need to move with the times. I don’t see why the rest of the world should be held hostage by their unwillingness to accept innovation.

    No-one is being “held hostage”, let alone your ridiculously hyperbolic “whole world”. Copyright holders have never in history been richer, nor had greater power and control over their works, nor had such small barriers to creativity and distribution.

    Copyright is completely and insanely out of control. It needs to be hugely scaled back and constrained. Copyright protection (outside of moral rights) should not be automatic. If a copyrighted work is registered for commercial protection, a copy should be put into national archives and automatically released to the public domain after the copyright expires. Copyright terms should last for well under 10 years, be limited to only one or two renewals, and each of those renewals should become progressively more expensive. Non-commercial copyright infringement should not be illegal.

    Copyright is a completely arbitrary, and exceptionally generous, legal privilege. As such its use should be carefully extended and closely monitored, not used as a crutch for broken business models, extortion, stifling creativity, and silencing dissent.

    You’re the one who’s convinced that no human being should be involved in the process […]

    That’s because I understand both a) the law and b) the practicalities and overheads involved.

    In the current system, it is the copyright holder’s responsibility to identify when their copyright has been broken, and then act as they see fit. You are arguing that Google, et al, should instead have that responsibility, by way of “automated content management systems”, or “alerting a human” who would then go on to make the decision about whether or not the content was in breach of copyright or not *without involving the copyright holder in the process at all*.

    So you’re suggesting that what is needed is a new agency whose fundamental purpose will be to investigate files stored on sites such as Megaupload to find those which are illegal?

    Nope.

  34. happyez

    Hey guys, I sort mail in the morning at Australia Post.

    We start at 6:30am after the night sorters have somewhat sorted everything. Sometimes the sorting machines they have don’t sequence all of our mail, so a lot is still hand sorted.

    But what is completely and utterly hilarious is the thought that Australia Post MUST inspect all items to see if there is copyrighted material in them.

    Firstly, do you know how many articles come through per day for about 20 streets (per beat)? Easily 3000 and up. Mail volumes are huge (given that large articles are replacing small letters).

    Go on, check EVERY and EACH one of them. You know, for some weird ideology that we have to cut down on piracy that Oscar seems to be hoisting himself to. As if it matters to him (unless its for a work thing, then really, I wonder if his heart cares that much). Yes, check them all.

    Don’t expect to get ANY mail that day. But knowing that you receive your bills way late because you_have_to_be_sure about everything (“oh you say that is Telstra, but what if it isn’t!!!!11!!!!??????”), and they fine you, well it’s a fine you are willing to pay so pirates you have never met are taught a lesson.

    Yes, I think the whole scenario is funny.

    Now, that’s physical mail. Expecting Google to check all links they have (and have every made) means you have no clue about the volumes on the internet. If you guys are so demanding of this, then propose a system. Go on. Make it realistic too, you know…. no fantasy stuff.

    Facebook, all blogs and all other social media will dissapear, along with all industries based around the way the internet works now. But to the pleasure of copyright holders, Google will go. Oh yes, that will make them very happy. Very. Google made $10b or so in profit last FY.
    Most, if not all, IP R&D will fly from the USA, and invest elsewhere, like the EU.

    All to stop all forms of linking to copyrighted stuff. Hahahahahaha. Good luck on that one. No! Actually, force Google to hire 300,000 to check all links. Just do it. Lots of unemployed people with nothing to do. Easy. Just is. Logic prevails.

    /rant

  35. Captain Planet

    I agree with Woody and the eminently reasonable Dr. Smithy.

    Copyright, as applied today, is past its use – by date.

    Can somebody explain to me why I shouldn’t download the latest Metallica song for free?

    Oh, because Metallica own it. And they need a few more billions to buy more yachts and golf courses and things.

    I am sick of people squealing that “piracy” is going to be the death of music, film, and all forms of the arts.

    What would actually happen, if free file sharing were to finally become rampant enough to damage the obscene profits extracted by these industries, is that there would be a proliferation of smaller local artists who perform primarily for the love of their art and for the appreciation of their audiences.

    You know, local guy plays guitar in pub for appreciative audience. His music is uploaded onto the net and millions of people like it, he’s famous, he makes millions anyway from live appearances and selling his songs for 10 cents each to anyone who wants them and doesn’t want to run the risk of contracting a virus from limewire.

    Sounds pretty idyllic, realistic and desirable to me. I’m sick of being force fed Hollywood garbage from actors who get paid tens of millions of dollars. Let’s eliminate this commercial stranglehold and see more art from people who perform because they love it and they are good at it.

  36. warwick

    @Scott, certainly not low hanging fruit. They’re the biggest slice of the pie, in terms of file share websites, except for Rapidshare.

    Regardless, the opposite effect will occur now. DOJ have not only demonstrated why they’re completely beyond independent judicial decision making, they’ve proven big money can be made by file sharing, they’ve explained why not storing info on US Servers is the best way not to get caught, they’ve angered millions of anonymous, and they’ve certainly encouraged another 100 or so new file share businesses to continue competition in the file share market.

    Last week there were ALREADY 10 competitors to Megaupload, next week there’ll be 20.

  37. drsmithy

    @Scott, certainly not low hanging fruit. They’re the biggest slice of the pie, in terms of file share websites, except for Rapidshare.

    They’re the low hanging fruit, because the _real_ “pirates” are the ones in China and other countries pumping out zillions of DVD and Blu-rays with varying levels of apparent authenticity and then selling them.

    Ie: the folks who are making serious money from copyright infringement and fraudulently presenting themselves as legitimate.

  38. BruceMcF

    @Klaus Stiefel, Its fine to stand up against Orwellian twisting of the language, but calling copyright infringement “piracy” is a usage that dates as far back as the early 1600’s, and calling a usage that is over 400 years old “Orwellian” is … well, positively Orwellian. A stickler for precision might insist on “copyright piracy”, but eliminate all usages of all phrases that have been adopted since the first use of “piracy” for copy rights infringement, and the tech industry would be rendered close to speechless.

    @DRSMITHY, part of the evidence behind the indictment includes emails between executives deciding which companies were big enough to respond to their takedown requests and which were small enough that they could be safely ignored, and for the bigger companies how to ration the responses to their takedown requests. Sure they claim to have a DMCA compliant system, but unlike under the proposed SOPA, this was not just the Justice Department getting a court order and a the owners of a website wake up to find out that payments from its advertisers have been blocked and they have to prove their innocence to get them unblocked again … that was a grand jury indictment. And part of winning the indictment was establishing that Megaupload, Megavideo, and etc. were not, in fact, safe harbor sites under the DCMA, despite the fact that they pretended to be.

  39. drsmithy

    You apparently missed my point, which is *all* these sites that do nothing more than allow people to upload and download stuff, are the low-hanging fruit of copyright infringement.

    The serious stuff involves people actually doing it for money, not doing it because they can.

  40. Klaus Stiefel

    @BRUCEMCF: I’d really like to see the sources for the use of “piracy” for copyright infringement in the 1600s, as long as it is still legal to link to them. In any case, Orwellian is a very good term for using language to make something much worse than it is. Independently if it has been misused like that for 2 or 200 years. I’d recommend the record label bosses to take a pleasure cruise (they certainly have the $$$ for it) to Somalia to experience the difference to real piracy.

  41. BruceMcF

    @Klaus Stiefel:

    “Banish these Word-pirates, (you sacred mistresses of learning) into the gulfe of Barbarisme: doome them euerlastingly to liue among dunces: let them not once lick their lips at the Thespian bowle, but onely be glad (and thanke Apollo for it too) if hereafter (as hitherto they haue alwayes) they may quench their poeticall thirst with small beere. Or if they will needes be stealing your Heliconian Nectar, let them (like the dogs of Nylus,) onely lap and away.”

    http://www.luminarium.org/renascence-editions/yeare.html

    As far as being Orwellian, actual pirates attempt to gain benefit for themselves without concern for the impact on those who produced the benefit. The problem is rather that calling ordinary copyright infringers “pirates” gives an element of glamor that the roundworms in the gut of the creative process do not seem to merit. “leech” would seem to be a more appropriate term.

  42. drsmithy

    As far as being Orwellian, actual pirates attempt to gain benefit for themselves without concern for the impact on those who produced the benefit.

    *Actual* pirates rape, murder, enslave and steal. Genuine harm, real and measurable losses.

    Equating a bunch of people swapping music on the internet to that is grossly offensive.

  43. Liamj

    The copyright fight is about enclosure of the information commons, not keeping poor artists in guitar strings. The autonomous internet is crushing the corporate media oligopy on every front, owners and advertisers are hurting, and so this push to impose impossible burdens of surveillance and compliance on the heretical upstarts, many of whom are not even in it for the money, ye gods! The swarm will win.

  44. Klaus Stiefel

    @BRUCEMCF

    Thank you, interesting, I really learned something.

    Yes, the actual pirates gain benefit without concern for the producers. By using often deadly violence. That makes a difference. This difference is smeared out by the use of “pirates” for copyright infringement.

    The use of derogatory animal names for political adversaries names has it’s own, ugly, history. Given the level of education you seem to have, I am sure you are aware of it. How about calling people committing copyright infringement “copyright infringers””?

  45. warwick

    FileSonic has stopped sharing files too this morning, due to fear over Megaupload arrests.
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57363594-93/filesonic-disables-file-sharing-in-wake-of-megaupload-a
    rrests/

  46. NeoTheFatCat

    As the volume of content on-line is so huge, what happens is that companies like Youtube use automated tools to detect possible infringement but then delete material without actually checking whether it infringes or not.

    So, the hypothetical video of 10 year olds dancing with the grandma is likely to get blocked only because it has come up as a match. Do you really think a real person is checking every instance that an automated tool identifies, looking for what is appropriate or inappropriate violations? No, they just delete first and ask questions later..

    And that is the point of all of this. Treat everyone as guilty, and then make it too hard for them to prove their innocence for them to even try.

    In my case, my skydiving video has had the audio deleted. Why? Because it is cut in with music clips – none more than 45 seconds, mostly overlaid with sounds of talking, aircraft noise etc and merging with each other. OK, I admit that it might be copyright infringement but I’m not going to check with the skydiving company to see if they have licences for use of tracks. If they do, then the onus is on me to prove it. But even if they dont, does anyone believe that being able to download a poor quality 45s of a music track has reduced legal sales of that song?

    Either we are going to start seeing self-censorship on a massive scale, or these industries will give up as they are confronted by ever more devious ways to get around these things.

  47. Woody

    “You simply cannot use a home video for commercial purposes or replay via broadcast without the permission of the owner.

    Oh, so now you’re all in favour of content creators having rights? Good. Glad to see you’ve seen the light.”

    Rights in relation to home videos are rights to privacy. There is no need to change that particular system simply because that has been the case for some time. As you can see on TV news services, web sourced video can be used but as long as nobody is identified. I’m sure we’ve all seen the footage, usually pixellated to obscure a persons identity.

    Comparing the rights of home video footage to the commercial rights and ownership of music/movies are like comparing apples to oranges.

    Whilst it’s too early to tell, attempted prosecutions along these lines have taken place against You Tube and others in the past. They have failed and it could likely happen in this case too by the sounds of Megaupload’s response earlier today. They maintain they comply with relevant copyright protections.

    I think you’ll find that this may be more an act of frustration on behalf of the entertainment industry at the shelving of SOPA and PIPA.

  48. BruceMcF

    @Klaus Steifel Pillage, murder, rape and plunder are the most dramatic impacts of pirates (making it an obvious! inspiration for an amusement park), but at least in Caribbean economic history (and I’d assume in other areas plagued by pirates) the lamented impacts of pirates always included the reduction in the volume of merchant shipping and so the loss of economic opportunity for affected areas. “Infringer” is fairly weak tea for people who make billions off the work of people including the anime inbetweener working in Tokyo at Tokyo cost of living for $1,000/month.

    @NeoTheFatCat ~ if an automated system gets a false positive against an upload to a free-to-user video streaming site ~ then get an account at a paid video streaming site with a fee hefty enough to covers the cost of a person doublechecking. As far as how much of a song is fair use in countries with a fair use exception, and in what circumstances: the line has to be drawn somewhere. Even if it were an educational use, over 10% would be over the line in the US. If I was the music label exec, I’d rather monetize a short clip rather than kill the audio, but if it is a sequence of clips its not likely to all be from the same label. And, plus, nobody would be silly enough to make me a music label exec.

    @Woody, given that Megaupload explicitly ration takedown requests, if it can be proven that behind the scenes they did discuss which companies should have their takedown requests taken seriously and which should not, and if it can be proven that this applied to any copyright infringement performed using US-based resources, they’d seem to be on shaky ground as far as the DMCA goes. It was enough to convince a grand jury, but as far as whether it will stand up in court ~ that’s kind of why they take things to trial.

  49. drsmithy

    “Infringer” is fairly weak tea for people who make billions off the work of people including the anime inbetweener working in Tokyo at Tokyo cost of living for $1,000/month.

    Megaupload (et al) aren’t making “billions”.

    The people making serious money are, as I’ve already said, the ones actually selling copyrighted material en masse, not providing websites where people can share files.

    @NeoTheFatCat ~ if an automated system gets a false positive against an upload to a free-to-user video streaming site ~ then get an account at a paid video streaming site with a fee hefty enough to covers the cost of a person doublechecking.

    Wait, what ? Why are we presuming the guilt of everyone and forcing them to justify their behaviour ? When did the fundamental basis of our legal system get turned on its head ?

    @Woody, given that Megaupload explicitly ration takedown requests, if it can be proven that behind the scenes they did discuss which companies should have their takedown requests taken seriously and which should not, and if it can be proven that this applied to any copyright infringement performed using US-based resources, they’d seem to be on shaky ground as far as the DMCA goes.

    Ignoring for a second that the DMCA is a bad law in itself, of course any requests are going to have to be “rationed” – there is not an infinite supply of staff to service requests, nor an infinite amount of money to pay them with.

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