Megaupload Shows that SOPA and PIPA Aren’t Needed
The Feds’ takedown of Megaupload shows beyond the shadow of a doubt that SOPA, PIPA or any similar legislation is wholly unnecessary.
As the Atlantic’s Dashiell Bennett correctly notes:
The shutdown inadvertently proved that the U.S. government already has all the power it needs to take down its copyright villains, even those that aren’t based in the United States. No SOPA or PIPA required.
Indeed, that might be why SOPA’s chief sponsor – who said he’d still push SOPA even after Wednesday’s web blackout – backed down right right after megaupload was taken down. (Granted, it could have also been because Anonymous’ hacking spree showed that draconian legislation won’t stop techies, or because of increased political pressure from other areas.)
Why the Take Down of Megaupload Was Wrong
Every day, criminals use storage lockers to stash drugs, stolen jewelry, etc. When the Feds raid, they seize the ill-gotten loot, and throw the criminals in jail … as they should.
They don’t shut down the entire storage company, or the train station where the locker is located. We can all agree that that would be absurd.
But the Feds say that Megaupload was basically a criminal enterprise, focused on illegal conduct. In other words, their response to the storage company analogy will be that the storage company gave money to people who stored dope or stolen property there, and that the whole thing was a criminal enterprise. (The Feds also point out that a grand jury found that Megaupload probably did bad stuff.)
I don’t know enough about Megaupload to know whether or not that is true. Numerous top entertainment celebrities endorsed Megaupload (major stars like Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas sung Megaupload’s praises)… so it’s not like the entire business was criminal. On the other hand, some people accuse Megaupload’s founder as being a serial criminal.
But the take down of Megaupload was wrong. It should have gone through the normal court process, and a judge should have ruled on the site before anything was done to kill the business. This is especially true because the. countries involved are signatories to international copyright and extradition treaties, not “rogue” nations.
It should be the courts which examine the evidence and determine whether the business used a criminal business model, or was mainly a legitimate business. Whatever happened to due process of law?
In the “Real” World, People Would Get Their Property Back
Even if the criminal company analogy is accurate, the honest customers of a storage company would normally get their property back. They wouldn’t say “60 percent of the customers are crooks, Mrs. Jones, so we threw away your priceless family heirlooms, too.”
Indeed, if it were easy for the Feds to arrest the criminal owners of the company and to give people notice that they could pick up their property, they would probably do so, and give a specific timeframe to pick it up.
The Feds would not shut down the storage company and throw out all of the property stored there by honest people.
As Ernesto at TorrentFreak writes:
Do the feds realize that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people used the site to share research data, work documents, personal video collections and much more?
What will happen to these personal non-infringing files?
People are outraged on Twitter and are demanding access to their files immediately.
By mindlessly shutting down the site, the Feds have made a very stupid move, indeed.