Saturday04 February 2023

Why Did the MPAA and US DoJ Go After Megaupload and What is Next?

Reading time is around minutes.

Over the last couple of days we have talked about the expected push from the copyright lobby for harsher laws and longer copyright periods (not to mention more control over the internet). This is a campaign that has been going on since the days of affordable internet (56kbps) and is one that will never really stop. However during this long battle there have been some highlights that make us all wonder at the motives and sanity of the key players involved. We are talking about the many domain seizures (for sites that are operating legally) and also some of the highly publicized threats that the MPAA (the leading group in this war) have made over the course of the last year.

One of my favorite quotes from the MPAA came from no other than Chris Dodd, the president of the MPAA. After SOPA and PIPA were shelved (due to an unprecedented response from the voting public) this genius went on TV and said;

“Those who count on quote 'Hollywood' for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who's going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don't ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don't pay any attention to me when my job is at stake,”

Now you can try and spin this anyway that you want, but in the end he is telling our lawmakers that he will not support their bids for reelection if they do not fall into line with what he wants (for good or bad). It is both a threat and a bribe yet nothing was done or said about this even though it is a highly unethical thing to say or do. Worse still, as we have reported, is that this man will be able to have direct contact with the newly elected congress persons starting in February. These are elected officials that will be feeling secure in their jobs for the next couple of years and are not going to have the same level of fear that they did in Mid-2012.

Our next favorite from 2012 was, of course, the raid on Megaupload and the Dotcom mansion. This topic has been covered ad nauseum so we will not go into too much detail here, but it does deserve coverage.

As most of you know the MPAA, RIAA and even members of the BSA decided that Megaupload was a significant threat to their business model. They also needed something to put in both the “win” column and the “major threat” column. To do this the MPAA spear headed an attack that would end up making the US DoJ look like a bunch of unethical idiots and strengthen Megaupload’s reputation across the internet (they even have a new service up now). On the surface the raid and attack was due to “rampant and willful piracy” despite the fact that Megaupload was commonly praised by the MPAA and other copyright holders for their cooperation with law enforcement and their self-service take down tools that were readily available to the MPAA, RIAA and others. In fact there is some speculation that the level of cooperation that Megaupload had with US law enforcement is what hurt them. Even now there is a claim from Megaupload of entrapment. The claim is based on the fact that some of the titles that were in the indictment against Kim Dotcom and Megaupload were also part of an investigation that Megaupload was cooperating with the FBI on. This means that the FBI used that cooperation (Megaupload turned over a listing of files that another site was storing on their servers) in order to prosecute Megaupload; if the claims by Kim Dotcom and Megaupload are true.

The MPAA and US DoJ also launched a siege against Dotcom and his File sharing company. The seized all of his and the company’s assets. The raided his home and offices (the home warrant was illegal), took evidence out of the country without review and are still refusing to provide all evidence against Megaupload, Kim Dotcom and the other managers that are caught up in this.  

Which leads us into a second favorite quote; The MPAA said that by taking away money from Megaupload and requiring Carpathia hosting to maintain the servers (at their own expense) it would send a message to anyone that want to run a file sharing service that they DOJ and Hollywood were willing to bankrupt them.  The further said that by making Carpathia foot the bill it would stop ISPs and service providers from being willing to work with any file sharing sites. This more than anything else will tell you what the Megaupload case was all about. Win or lose the DoJ and the MPAA have hurt Megaupload and Kim Dotcom financially and in a way that not many other sites or companies could recover from. That is why they were targeted in the first place; if they can get to the big guy on the block then what chance do the little guys have. This is on top of the fact that Megaupload was becoming an outlet for independent artists and even some more mainstream ones for music, films and even software. That kind of competition just has to go...

Of course the issue is not all about file sharing, piracy, or protecting IP (Intellectual Property). It might seem like that at first, but there is considerably more to this one that just that. At their core the Copyright and content industry wants to put technological safeguards in place that will effectively amount to continual spying on your digital communication. These systems including Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), DNS filtering, Packet Capture, Protocol Monitoring, Email parsing and more mean that anything you send anywhere will be read and scanned to see if you are doing something wrong. The MPAA, RIAA, and BSA want this, but so does our Government. They would like it to keep track of what disgruntled people are up to as well as who they talk to and where they meet up. If they can get this level of surveillance installed by riding someone else’s wagon they are going to be very happy.

Still regardless of if this is in the name of IP, US Jobs, National Security, Money or simple megalomania; the war for harsher piracy laws is all about your freedom on the internet. It is about control and about preserving a cartel and business model that has long since run its course. The content industry and the companies that are pushing for tighter patent control need to move into the future where idea, culture and thought sharing is a good thing. We are not saying that they cannot or should not make a good profit off of their work, but let’s face it most of what comes out of Hollywood (and to a lesser extent RIAA and the Software and Gaming industry) is a rehash of old ideas that they want top dollar for… it is no wonder people do not want to pay for what they are selling…

What do you think about the possible reintroduction of SOPA? Tell us in our Forum

Last modified on Friday, 18 January 2013 16:03

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