Megaupload prospects look dim; other file-sharing services take notice
January 22, 2012 | 8:35 pm
Dreamwidth blogger synecdochic has taken an in-depth look at the allegations against Megaupload and agrees with Ars that the prospects look dim for the company’s execs. The problem is not so much what Megaupload did—indeed, synecdochic suggests that a sufficiently skilled legal team would have had a decent chance to get the execs off the hook for a lot of it, except for the real problem.
The real problem is that Megaupload’s employees regularly emailed each other to discuss how wicked they were—and the company kept email logs that the feds could—and did—subpoena, providing more than enough rope to hang them most effectively.
In short, there are about three dozen ways in which Megaupload could have structured their site and their business to be able to successfully argue that the primary uses of it were non-infringing, and therefore they should be covered under the "capable of substantial noninfringing uses" guideline set forth in A&M Records Inc vs Napster Inc and the safe-harbor provisions of OCILLA and the DMCA. At each decision point that could have led to such a defense, they appear to have deliberately, willfully, and gleefully taken the opposite route. And then written emails about it. And saved them. For a long time.
I do not see this case ending well for them.
In related news, Megaupload has dropped Universal Music from the list of defendants in its lawsuit over the Megaupload song takedown. It seems to be focusing on suing Google now for not providing assurance Youtube videos would be retained. And Hong Kong Customs has frozen $39 million of Megaupload assets.
Meanwhile, Gizmodo reports that file sharing and storage service FileSonic has apparently seen the writing on the wall—it just removed the “sharing” part of its service, changing itself into a service that can be used only for retrieving files that you have uploaded personally. The article also notes that file service Uploaded.to has also closed down, at least for US users.
It’s a little worrying what might happen if a service like Dropbox followed suit. Apart from the many other legitimate things its users do with it, one of those is the ability to create an on-line e-book library with Calibre that can then be accessed anywhere from apps like Stanza or IbisReader simply by plugging a public URL into the app. No public URL ability would mean that those apps wouldn’t be able to access the library anymore.
Of course, it still remains to be seen whether the DoJ will take similar actions against other file sharing services. It’s hard to imagine that any of them could have been quite as dumb as Megaupload—and if they had been, I expect they’re busy remedying the matter now.