You all probably know I’m strongly opposed to legislation like SOPA and PIPA, but that doesn’t mean I support piracy. I covered Anonymous’ response to the MegaUpload shutdown with a post, but I avoided taking a position aside from the stating that a 55 year prison sentence was too much for copyright infringement. The truth is I needed to think about what the shutdown really meant. I’m not one to make an uninformed decision when picking a side. Even though I know this site gets light traffic and is just “some guy’s blog” in the grand scheme of things, I don’t want to be anyone’s tool for propaganda.
After going back and forth on this, I believe shutting down MegaUpload is a good thing. Here are five reasons why in no particular order:
They had to know their site was being used for piracy
If you had gone on MegaUpload and looked at the Top 100, you would have seen a cavalcade of copyrighted material in every category. Not knowing that essentially means you’ve never been to the site, and I’m guessing the guys running the site had seen the site. You can make the argument that there were plenty of legal uses for MegaUpload, but long term storage was dependent upon the number of downloads. Since no one wants to read your term paper, this led to pirated material being stored and legitimate files being deleted.
They clearly knew their site was being used to illegally distribute copyrighted materials and chose to do nothing about it.
It made people less trusting of “the cloud”
The cloud has its place, but relying too heavily on storage that isn’t under your control is a mistake. People who were using MegaUpload as a safe for important files lost those files when the site was shutdown. It was an important reminder for citizens of the internet to keep their data and primary backup local, and use online storage as a secondary backup.
While the internet may be wrong about some things, it’s also right about a few things. A study conducted by Brett Danaher, from the Department of Economics at Wellesley College, and Joel Waldfogel from the Department of Economics at University of Missouri suggests that internet piracy of films is driven by delayed international releases. It’s understandable in this age of instant global communication. After all, imagine checking out your favorite websites to find that everyone is talking about a movie that won’t even be released where you live for another six months. You could probably live with it for a while, but what if it was happening all the time? Here in the U.S., the Fox Network decided to impose an 8 day delay between a show’s air date and when it’s available on Hulu. What happened next? There was a surge in pirated downloads of the affected shows.
When treated fairly and equally by distributors and studios, the vast majority of people are willing to pay for content that interests them. Companies need to start looking at how to curb piracy by changing their own behavior before they push for new laws.