MPAA To USTR: More Shutdowns Like Megaupload, Please
from the protectionism-at-its-finest dept
This year's seizures of Megaupload.com and Megavideo.com by the Department of Justice illustrate the extent and impact that hosting hubs have on the online landscape. Prior to the seizures, Megavideo.com (Alexa 177) and Megaupload.com (Alexa 72) were estimated to receive 3,447,7741 and 2,640,8452 unique visitors each month, respectively. Megaupload.com alone was estimated to have consumed 11.4% of the Internet bandwidth in Brazil. When these two websites were taken down, many linking websites, custom search engines, and custom streaming scripts that relied on the sites for content became inoperable. Some websites were abandoned by their operators, others lost traffic, while still others shifted their business model. For example, Wupload.com (Alexa 918), which was featured in MPAA's filing last year, disabled file sharing. Affiliate programs that paid uploaders for content were also discontinued or removed by many hubs. Further, infringing content was purged by operators in bulk, which was followed by uploaders who deleted their own files to prevent the hubs from profiting on the uploads without paying incentives. In sum, the impact of these seizures was massive and the hub landscape is still recovering.I have to admit that I'm not sure I understand the comma notation in those unique visitor numbers (don't you normally put a comma every 3 digits rather than 4? Is that a phone number? Are they talking about 3.4 million or 34 million?).
But, either way, the whole bit of glee over Megaupload is fairly unseemly given a few key points. First off, the absolute disaster of the case against Megaupload so far. Eventually, they may get their act together, but to date, it's involved missing or destroyed evidence, questions about the warrant, illegal spying, more requests to destroy evidence and general attempts to demonize the people involved. While Megaupload may eventually be found guilty, that's far from certain at this point. All of these errors are certainly raising significant doubts about the DOJ's ability to understand what's actually happening.
And it's that last fact which highlights why the takedown process here is totally broken. Even if Megaupload is eventually cleared, the company will have lost more than a year (and likely more) to fight the lawsuit, and the company, as it is, is basically dead. It's still never been adequately explained why the MPAA can't do what the law requires, and take the targets to court, seeking an injunction. These aren't drug lords they're dealing with. They can be tracked down and found (without resorting to illegal spying). That's not to say the sites should be legal, necessarily. That's fact-specific. But, the idea that the US government, at the urging of Hollywood, should just take down a business, without letting the site owner even express their side, is so extreme as to be laughable. You would think that, given how badly this whole thing may backfire in its face, that MPAA would have started backing away from the whole "Megaupload is a perfect example" stump speech by now. But it seems to want to play out that lie for a while. To then play that up as a good example really suggests that the MPAA is in denial and still thinks that the scary caricature of Kim Dotcom that it has built up in the minds of Hollywood execs, is still a legitimate thing.