The demise of SOPA happened two weeks ago, but in my last post, I forgot to mention that it brought down a big site in the process. The popular file hosting site Megaupload was shut down by the Feds the same week. Unfortunately, the commotion surrounding that loss was muted in the excitement over SOPA’s defeat.
For those who are unfamiliar with the site, Megaupload was a site where users could store and share their videos with others. Another site similar to this is RapidShare, who doesn't seem at all worried about the situation nor the idea that they could be next. If someone wanted to download a video, the site would give the user a link to use and receive the video with no problems. It was obvious that the site was mainly used for the share of non-copyright material and piracy, which Megaupload had gotten requests by the government to filter through those infringing users. What the site has done to comply is to erase the original link, but leaves the links that users have downloaded alone. And by that point there were probably thousands of the same things all over the site. That pushed the government to the edge.
Megaupload founder, Kim Schmitz was arrested on January 20th, leaving over $500 million in copyright damages and earning $175 million from ad revenue and premium subscriptions with his company. And that’s not even the unfortunate part. There were active users who needed Megaupload to spread their own videos around the Internet. Professional musicians, performing artists, gamers and other users were left out in the cold when the site went under, most likely deleting all of their previous work online. There have also been some big names that have been affected by the loss, like Google+ and Android, who used the site to develop some apps and distributed them to beta testers. Regardless of what Megaupload was commonly used for, its loss was definitely a mixed one.
The removal of this site demonstrated both an important pro and con when facing a censorship bill. The pro being it eliminates piracy and the profiting off of uncopyrighted material. The con being it diminishes innovation and ending projects that people have worked so hard on. It’s hard to find a peaceful medium between change and preservation over media and censorship, and Megaupload was a prime example.
For more information on this subject, check out this video from YouTube user Dan Brown. I highly recommend his weekly videos, they're very entertaining and intelligent.