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The Aftermath of the MegaUpload Shutdown

At the height of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) discussion, one of Internet’s largest file-sharing site was shutdown by the United States federal government. allows individuals, including artists, to download, store and share over the Internet large content files, including text.

Seven people were charged for running a $500 million worldwide piracy ring that trafficked in copyrighted movies, books and music. The seven were charged with five counts of racketeering, copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. If convicted, the seven could be jailed for up to 20 years.

According to prosecutors, MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom (Schmitz) made £27 million from MegaUpload in 2010. During the raid, authorities were able to seized 25 cars – mainly top-of-the range Mercedes, including Maseratis, a vintage pink Cadillac and a £300,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom.

With the shutdown, the discussion over anti-piracy heats up. There’s no question, piracy is not to be tolerated. Copyrights and intellectual properties should be protected and lawful owners should be properly compensated. But where do we put the line between piracy and freedom on the internet – means of distributing content online?

For some upcoming artists, software developers and for some independent film makers, uploading their materials on the web is a great way for them to be known, an affordable way to promote their work and to some, a way to earn some revenue. But for established artists and big movie companies, having their content uploaded without proper authorization and license is considered piracy.

For MegaUpload users in particular, no doubt there are pirated contents on its servers, but there are legitimate contents as well. When the site was shutdown and the servers confiscated, what happens to the legal contents uploaded by users? Will they be charged as well or should they suffer just because others use the site for piracy?

In the area of technology, digital lockers like will start to think twice before offering such service for they might suffer the same fate as MegaUpload. Which reminds me, what’s the difference between the technology used by digital lockers to the technology offered by companies who are advocates of cloud computing where users can upload their content up on the cloud for backup purposes?

Will the shutdown help solve the piracy problem? I sincerely doubt it. You can expect peer-to-peer networks which allow sharing of files among consumer’ computers usage to rise. You can be assured that peer-to-peer systems like BitTorrent and PirateBay will gain more activity after the MegaUpload shutdown.

Another concern I have is the digital protest we are seeing after the SOPA / PIPA and the shutdown. Online companies suddenly shutdown their sites in protest of SOPA / PIPA. Hackers started hacking websites again to show their protest to the actions taken – for most of them, the action is a way to suppress internet freedom and innovation. Are we seeing the new age of cyberwar taking place?

I just remembered what the late Steve Jobs said when he stood his grounds when he was told to increase the fee of .99 cents per music. Steve said No to the price increase because according to him, once people cannot afford to buy legitimate music, they will resort to piracy.

I am logging off. Stay cool and God Bless!

(Article written by Jerry Liao)

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