Friday 7 December 2012, 10:59 | By

MPAA says MegaUpload shutdown a triumph

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In a confidential filing with the Office Of The US Trade Representative, the Motion Picture Association Of America has hailed the closure at the start of the year of the controversial file-transfer and video sharing platform MegaUpload.

The Hollywood trade body reckons that the shutdown had a major impact on the illegal distribution of unlicensed content on the net, both by stopping the specific distribution enabled by the Mega operation, but also by hindering other file-sharing and linking platforms that piggy backed on MegaUpload, and persuading other set-ups to stop or alter their services.

But there is much more to be done, the MPAA predictably adds, and the momentum of MegaUpload should be capitalised upon to take the likes of Extratorrent, isoHunt, Kat.ph and the big bad Pirate Bay offline too.

Says the MPAA’s Michael O’Leary in the report, which was actually submitted in September but has only now been leaked via Torrentfreak: “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. 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”.

On the latter point, O’Leary expands: “For example, Wupload.com, 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”.

Of course the precise legalities of the shutdown of MegaUpload remain a little uncertain until the company and its key execs, most notably founder Kim ‘Dotcom’ Schmitz, face the charges made against them – of money laundering, racketeering and copyright infringement – in a US court. And that is unlikely to happen any time soon, given how often the first proper hearing regards extraditing Dotcom from New Zealand to the States keeps getting postponed.

Dotcom maintains that the US government’s case against his company, some of which was informed by the MPAA, is baseless, and ultimately he may be able to sue the American government and the movie industry for destroying his business. Whether there is any truth in that remains to be seen, though certainly there remains the messy matter of the legitimate content that was stored on the Mega platform.

Collateral damage in the big strike against MegaUpload, owners of that legitimate content have been without their data for almost a year, and the seeming unwillingness of US prosecutors and the MPAA to help those innocent bystanders doesn’t do the reputation of the big copyright companies much good, and provides ammunition to the Twittering Dotcom in his bid to portray his opponents as sinister figures only concerned about protecting the interests of old school big business.

As previously reported, earlier this year the US record industry also provided a list to the Office Of The US Trade Representative of the online services it considers most notorious in the online piracy domain. Whether the American authorities are in any mood to instigate any other major attacks against the big piracy players while the MegaUpload case is still rumbling through the courts remains to be seen. Though international lobbying of countries thought to facilitate such piracy hubs through lax copyright laws, and the occasional seizing of domain names off prolific infringers, is likely to continue.

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