A Post-Megaupload World

Anyone else tried to access Megaupload recently?

I first realized it here (a new site called Geek Revolt), and quickly went to confirm here (Washington Post) and here (Los Angeles Times). The site's been taken down. Given that attempting to go there itself returns no response, I'm willing to bet that this particular takedown was the oldest and most effective form of computer disruption: physically pulling the plug. And given the indictment against them (thanks again to the Los Angeles Times), I'm willing to bet they're not going to be coming back anytime soon.

Let's be clear here: Megaupload was hosting and distributing large numbers of files without permission. I would not be surprised to learn that there were large numbers of files on there which were being distributed legally, but I would be even less surprised to learn that there was pirated media available on Megaupload, quite possibly in much larger amounts.

As a result, I really can't find it in me to get worked up about this one. If the charges laid out in the indictment are in fact true, then there is every reason to be taking the site down quite permanently, thank you very much. And Megaupload will absolutely have their day in court, with all of the due process that entails - trying to claim that they're somehow not getting that process is kind of absurd.

Connecting this to the debate over SOPA is, likewise, absurd. Irrespective of the timing of the action. If your problem is with the government's action in this case, your problem is with a large amount of existing law, already in the U.S. Code. If it's as problematic as SOPA, by all means bring that to everyone's attention. But this is one site being taken down for demonstrable violations of federal law. Had SOPA already existed, every site that ever posted a link to Megaupload would be potentially in the crosshairs. That's the difference.

I said in my post about SOPA on the day of the blackout that the battle against piracy is going to be a long and complicated one. And I'm willing to agree that it is to some extent futile, in that there will be a countermeasure to any anti-piracy measure enacted. Whether they manage to throw doubt on the government's case against them and are able to return, or whether another site takes up their mantle, there will be another Megaupload. Perhaps its successor will be more under the radar, or perhaps it will be actively ignored for a time. That will not change the facts that brought this particular indictment forward, and it will not stop the government from issuing its indictment against that successor, should the time ever come.

I oppose unreasonable methods of combating online piracy, a category into which SOPA and PIPA certainly fall. In the end, though, I do not oppose reasonable and effective means of combating piracy, whether economic or legal in nature. And I don't believe that the indictment and takedown of Megaupload can be considered truly unreasonable.

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