DOJ Gives Its Opinion On SOPA By Unilaterally Shutting Down 'Foreign Rogue Site' Megaupload… Without SOPA/PIPA
from the screw-you-all----we're-the-doj dept
If you’ve been paying attention to the MPAA/US Chamber of Commerce/RIAA claims about why they need PIPA/SOPA, a key argument is that they need it to go after these “foreign rogue sites” that cannot be reached under existing US law. Among the most prominent sites often talked about is Megaupload — which accounts for a huge percentage of the “rogue site traffic” that the US Chamber of Commerce and other bill supporters love to cite. However, it certainly appears that the US Justice Department and ICE don’t think they need any new law to go after people in foreign countries over claims of criminal copyright infringement. As lots of folks are currently digesting, the Justice Department, along with ICE, have shut down the site and arrested many of the principles (with the help of New Zealand law enforcement) and charged them with massive amounts of criminal copyright infringement.
Of course, just last week, we had noted that Megaupload was immune from SOPA/PIPA because it doesn’t apply to dot coms — but this is still interesting and crazy for a whole variety of reasons:
- ICE and DOJ have a pretty freaking dreadful record so far in bringing these kinds of cases for online copyright infringement. It’s kind of amazing that they did this so soon after they totally screwed up and had to give back Dajaz1 (without an apology, by the way). Megaupload may be a different type of site… but, still…
- Similar cyberlockers, like RapidShare, have already been declared legal in both Europe and the US. I don’t know the details of Megaupload’s situation — and certainly its founder has a… um… colorful history… but it seems pretty extreme to totally shut down the site prior to any adversarial hearing.
- In the last few days and months, Megaupload had announced plans to help artists make more money… and had announced that very successful and famous music producer Swizz Beatz had become CEO of Megaupload. Beatz is also married to recording superstar Alicia Keys and was responsible for getting all those RIAA artists to endorse Megaupload. All indications were that the company was clearly building a legitimate system for artists to make money and fans to get content. And it seemed that many artists clearly supported the site.
- So why do we need SOPA/PIPA again? It seems like the DOJ/ICE just undermined the key argument of the MPAA/RIAA/US CoC for why they need these laws. After all, Megaupload was one of the key examples used for why the law was needed.
- At the same time there are huge questions about why the government is involved here. Megaupload is currently engaged in a lawsuit in the US — and contrary to claims of SOPA/PIPA supporters, the company seemed more than willing to appear in court to deal with civil copyright claims. Why leap to criminal claims?
- Is this really the message the US DOJ and White House want to be giving the day after mass, widespread protests happened concerning a fear that this new law would be used to take down websites? Honestly, this is a big “fuck you” to the protestors, showing that the government already has this power thanks to the last law they passed: ProIP (which they promised they’d never abuse).
- The indictment itself — embedded below — is so full of hyperbole (“Mega Conspiracy”) it sounds like it was written by the entertainment industry itself…
Anyway, I’m sure we’ll have much more to say about all of this… but wow is the timing dumb on the government’s part. Not only does it undermine the argument for PIPA/SOPA, but it raises significant questions about whether or not the feds already have too much censorship power.