For MegaUpload.com users, there could be a way to get your files back. Past the initial clatter of terror, that your files were going to be actually deleted, the FBI folks did something stranger, and released the custody of customer files back to the filehost, Carpathia Hosting. Legally, this may have been the only thing to do, which is release the quarantine on any item not related to a case.
But in doing so, the FBI just transferred the entirety of encrypted storage to a company that has no right to the contents, nor has access to the site itself.
While Carpathia Hosting won’t delete the files just yet, and offers a “7-day notice” if they do…They are not mentioning an important piece of information. MegaUpload.com leased a swath of filespace (25 Terabytes, or 27,487,790,700,000 bytes), which costs money to maintain. MegaUpload’s operators lease the server space from Carpathia Hosting, who will host the site until the lease expires. And someone should mention that their 7-day period of grace will start as soon as the paid portion of MegaUpload’s lease expires. In interest of their company, Carpathia isn’t going to sit on operating costs for a felony-indicted company.
It’s expected that MegaUpload is dead in the water, and the actual trial will be quite a while. People with files on these Carpathia servers will have little option other than petitioning Carpathia Hosting. Maybe suing the Feds would grant Carpathia permission to crack the files, but that’s just conjecture, considering that’s against the law too.
The newly-released site, MegaRetrieval.com, is the only avenue of assistance, a joint-effort of the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and Carpathia Hosting. My impression is that they will file a lawsuit for some users, or generally represent those who pile onto a class action to allow access for a limited pool of users to retrieve files. But this avenue is limited. EFF itself states (my emphasis in bold):
“EFF is a small donor-supported non-profit legal services organization and does not charge for its legal services. It may not be able to represent everyone who inquires.“
So it’s a game of craps either way. You could venture out on your own, retain a lawyer, and write up the Justice folks to release your extremely valuable file into your custody via Carpathia. That would also require some semblance of login and costs of retrieval bandwidth as well. And as you can see, this is already getting complicated enough. Imagine as well, finding a legal way to transfer ownership of a product when said owner is locked up in the Pokey?
And whether or not you’re a 99% fan, public interest remains squarely in the rights of individuals, not individual corporations, of course…right?
Turns out The MPAA was the reason why we’re reading about MegaUpload.com in the first place. They were able to sell a federal team of investigators to pursue and protect their product. The MPAA brought this to the Feds, who then built the case. Sure, the Feds may have a passing interest in the guy called DotCom who had bling, but lets put it all together with SOPA and PIPA, and see why the MPAA went after them, and the timeline that was hardly coincidental. In fact, think if SOPA/PIPA passed, and then MegaUpload.com went down?
It’d be a far different story, and thanks to users and companies alike (some with a grain of salt), it’s not. And thankfully, we do have to thank our spineless Congress for it.
One, the MPAA has rights to protect. This is why we passed the DCMA, Copyright Act of 1976 and a slew of business-minded laws to protect the rights of business owners from copyright infringement. But what this case represents is far from protecting our rights, but a designed lobbying attempt to pass a law that has nothing to do with our public interest and time, but their bottom line.
Two, the SOPA/PIPA laws were not designed to protect our interests, but strengthen a corporate’s protection of their perceived slight. The most fitting one is the case of MegaUpload v. Universal Media Group (UMG). This case defines how murky the waters are. I support protecting against piracy, but I also know there are consequences far too expensive to accept in current legislation (and likely future legislation for that matter).
Ironically, MegaUpload filed a lawsuit stemming from a viral music video that was removed from Youtube after Universal Media Group claimed copyright infringement of an artist named Gin Wigmore. But as it turns out, DotCom was the one who was right. The big names were hired on contract, and UMG strongarmed Youtube into removing the video, because a New Zealand artist’s “rights” were infringed. Even Will.I.Am tried at first to deny he signed for the video with MegaUpload, his lawyer speaking directly from UMG to set the PR tone.
Think about it. UMG’s complaint was from a hopeful technicality. If you’re up on your New Zealand music scene (I’m a Bic Runga fan), Gin Wigmore does sound a lot like Macy Gray. But thing was, UMG successfully censored a video that didn’t have Gin Wigmore on it at all. Their entire case was prefaced to this fact. Now that you have two examples of the artists, check out the then-censored Mega Song at about 1:50 and 2:47, and tell me that’s not Macy Gray? What’s Google thinking, to censor posts just because there’s perception of wrongdoing?
Hardly the free-minded company, anymore…
Where was UMG’s evidence and Google’s demand for evidence? Nowhere. Youtube/Google did their part easily, acting as the censor for others, without a shred of proof, and begs a question on their backing of anti-SOPA/PIPA legislation alone. Kim DotCom was right (in this case) regarding the UMG, and has real beef with Google too. SOPA/PIPA would codify perceived wrong into right, not like it’s already happening now.
If you’re not aware of these rights we all would’ve lost with passage of SOPA/PIPA, you might want to stop passing laws as well. When members of Congress all stood up to author this bill, then sat right back down after resistance sprouted, that was a pretty good sign that Congress doesn’t address constituents, just national lobbyist issues. This was clear when Reps. cashed the check, then now act like nothing really happened, or worse still, claim that this was on their mind all long to deny SOPA/PIPA.
For the US Government to stand up for corporations, but then stiff the little guy, represents why our government is broken. Authors, producers, and even the money people all have a stake in the product. But if you remember the WGA Writer’s Strike, it’s not something that Hollywood is all on board about.
For writers, this has always been a concern. Granted, there are good trade unions who viciously protect writers, but even they had to strike in Hollywood because companies were exploiting their work in the digital world. Yes, the same companies now claim the digital world is destroying them (fitting).
For an peek inside Hollywood, even the good films smell, as the Cracked.com piece here highlights, and a primer on the 1998 CTEA here. The 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act is a real law, signed by Clinton. A few people made noise, but since we were all on AOL or junky dial-up, we weren’t the masters of the net we are today. Copyright to an author is not perpetual. It has never been since its introduction. But put legacy and corporate socialism together, and Mickey gets life support for stockholders.
The Top Ten Movies Pirated of All Time shows us that ten movies alone total about 200 million downloads on the “market”. Seriously, that’s a big chunk of revenue to deal with if you’re that dense to believe the argument. But is it a “loss”, or just a perceived loss?
This is a murky, murky area. You might download a movie from cost concerns, no available theater, lack of interest in sitting behind a guy with a pickle and nachos, or just desiring to stay at home and otherwise remain inconvenienced from the pursuit of commerce. These are not good reasons to pirate, but that’s why normal people download movies. Convenience. Give us a penny, we take the house.
And while most of us won’t actually pirate, we’re not unfamiliar with the actual act, because we do it all the time.
When was the last time you let someone borrow your DVDs? Or when you VHS’d a free week of HBO and passed around the Meg Ryan 90′s Romance SLP with “Addicted to Love”, “French Kiss” and “Sleepless in Seattle”, all on one cassette? When did you go to someone’s house to watch “True Blood”, ’cause you’re too cheap to pay for HBO?
I shared my Spaced DVD with friends. I received nothing, not even a vanilla cone. If everyone did this with their purchased products, we’d have hundreds of millions of “lost revenue” that Hollywood couldn’t collect on. No wait…we actually do this in real life, and no one complained. Transfer of ownership before digital rights was letting someone hold the DVD, just in case the Feds busted in like the Kool-Aid guy.
“No sharing,” I would say now, “You’re robbing Hollywood. So go buy your own copy, friend, even though it makes no collective sense. That’s right, son. I bought “Kung Fu Panda 2″, so you have to go buy your own.”
Guilty, clustercussing guilty, all of us.
Piracy happens all the time, and funny thing is, we’re very familiar with the loopholes too. If you buy the Hollywood argument, you should also force your kids to individually purchase the next film you get for them, because Shrek costs money, and Lord knows we can’t offend him or Donkey.
When real pirates get films, rip them, or seed the warez, they often do it for some sort of indirect revenue. These people are plenty guilty. If they try to make a buck off of advertising a movie they don’t own, or housing files that aren’t theirs in order to make more ad revenue, you should get a lawsuit. In fact, that’s what we already do.
Kim DotCom and MegaUpload.com do fit this description. But then if this is in the public interest, so does Google. For all intents and purposes, YouTube generates a swath of ad revenue from things someone else does, like dump flour all over a living room, or falling down while trying on pants.
They don’t own anything except the delivery method and storage either, and house a heck of a lot of illegal content. Just search Youtube for the exact same thing I paid for (apparently just for my friends to borrow).
I don’t want to pick a fight with Google, but I have beef. They might want to remove catalogs of shows they don’t own either, and really see their revenue stream take a hit. In fact, you could probably turn the same basic argument of MegaUpload.com against YouTube.com without much effort.
But this isn’t about the hypocrisy (plenty of time for that later), this is about rights of individuals who have had their files ghosted without a single proceeding, trial, or hearing. While today it could be a website, tomorrow’s technology and online financial transaction systems could make it worse. With the advent of online payment systems, we’re not capable of handling chain-of-custody in the event a MegaUpload turns into a MegaBank. It’s not hard to imagine as well, because many people already operate on alternate currency (PayPal), and banks are just a means to transfer it to tangible currency.
Imagine if a bank’s operators were arrested for scams, and your bank account was frozen and then given to some other guy, who then promised to keep your account until they gave 7-days’ notice to delete the files?
Justice might want to field a memo soon. Mako out.