Megaupload: Not That Innocent

by Mark Wilson

Let’s be clear, here. Despite Anonymous’s protestations to the contrary, Megaupload did not exist primarily as a way to let users share large files. That was a sham that Megaupload perpetuated for its own P.R. Quite to the contrary, Megaupload existed primarily to pirate copyrighted content. To the degree that intellectual property exists, and can be afforded copyright protection, and to the degree that such property can be “stolen,” Megaupload did it.

Boy, did they do it.

The ignorance defense is unavailing, and Anonymous’s reliance on that defense is either ignorant or dishonest. Not only did Megaupload know that its users were uploading copyrighted material, they encouraged “premium” (paid) users to upload copyrighted material, making millions of dollars in the process. They also invented a somewhat-sophisticated system for dodging copyright-takedown requests, enabling them to claim they were complying with those requests, but really not doing any such thing. And why would they? It would have cut into their bottom line.

I’ve also heard the fair use doctrine thrown around. It exceeds the boundaries of reason to believe that Megaupload was engaging in fair use while it was making money from infringement and dealing in the distribution of copyrighted works in their entirety for none of the typical fair use reasons (academia, satire, journalism, etc.).

Bottom line: Megaupload is dead, and people who have been availing themselves of pirated content for years are upset that they’ll have to go somewhere else or start paying for it. There are no SOPA or PIPA implications, here. Anonymous’s online temper tantrum actually works against the legitimate concerns that the Internet has against SOPA and PIPA. It only enables the Chris Dodds of the world to say, “See? It was always about facilitating piracy, not free speech or due process, just like we always said!”