MegaUpload Shut Down Marks a Watershed Moment
The US Government on Friday nonchalantly shut down the entire multi-million dollar business, arrested its founder, and expropriated millions of dollars worth of property. The business in question wasn’t even located in the US, but in New Zealand.
MegaUpload was, of course, accused of piracy, but whatever the charge this is a clear cut case of administering punishment before trial, or being assumed “guilty until proven innocent”. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that this government would be doing such a thing at a time when indefinite detainment of even US citizens without trial under mere vague suspicions of connections to terrorism is perfectly legal.
An Out of Control Government
This also came just a day after a historic web-wide protest against SOPA and PIPA bills which would make internet censorship in the name of piracy legally all too easy to do. In fact, the sheer audacity of what the US Government did on Friday makes me wonder if there is any point at all to the war that has been waged against SOPA and PIPA.
It would seem SOPA and PIPA would merely make explicit what the US Government is perfectly willing to do already, just as NDAA 2012 made explicit indefinite detainment that US Government has already been engaging in anyway.
We have on our hands, it would seem, a government that is completely out of control. Cries over constitutional violations have been falling on deaf ears for years now, and now we’re at a point where we have the government engaging in actions which can easily be called totalitarian, and even making such actions explicitly legal. Anyone who still thinks that they can hold this government accountable, keep it under control, and make it serve the interests of the people at large must be severely delusional.
Megaupload’s Planned Industry Disruption
Latest news on the MegaUpload shut down reveal what suggests itself as the real reason why MegaUpload might have been shut down. It certainly makes sense when you consider who has been behind this particular abuse of government power in the name of fighting piracy: MPAA and RIAA.
MegaUpload was apparently about to launch a service that would allow artists to easily market themselves and sell their stuff directly to the public, making the middlemen whom MPAA and RIAA represent completely unnecessary, while keeping 90% of the profits. They were working on something that would help unsigned artists like me sell our music, or even give it away while still getting paid for distributing them through MegaUpload thanks to their MegaKey advertising revenue sharing technology.
The service was called MegaBox, and is said to be potentially transformative of the music industry as a whole. As TechCrunch author asserted “Megaupload was likely large enough to actually find success”, but in daring to take on the music industry head on they ended up in jail.
It’s worth saying loud and clear that this is a case of corrupt incumbent organizations literally using the government to destroy competition and force the entire industry to stay stagnant just so they can keep churning profits using their outdated methods. This is how government power destroys free enterprise, progress, and innovation. It gives the incumbents an option to, instead of innovating, simply swing the baton of “the law” against those whom would disrupt their incumbency too much.
The “Conspiracy Theory” vs. Facts
Of course, that this is a reason why MegaUpload was shutdown when it was, is in the realm of a “conspiracy theory” or a mere rumor, but that RIAA and MPAA have been using the government to stall and destroy competing models is no theory as it has been happening for a long time now. The context strongly suggests that MegaUpload wasn’t shut down just because they were allegedly aiding piracy (despite regularly complying to take down requests and having been endorsed by popular artists). After all, they offered a variety of services not entirely related to piracy, and the upload service itself has been used for completely legal file storage and sharing as well. It is way too convenient for the accusation of aiding piracy to be enough to shut down an entire company without a trial, and just before they were about to launch a disruptive music service that provides a legal new way of distributing music.
I don’t have to state this theory as a fact, but feigning ignorance in this case doesn’t seem like a very bright idea either.
In light of these events I think last week was a historic one. A historic protest against the greatest government encroachment on the internet ever followed by an unprecedented act of destruction of value by that same government. It demonstrated exactly, vividly and unmistakably the danger that said legal encroachment represents before it even became explicitly legal.
I for one think that the world is no longer the same after last week. We have crossed a certain threshold, and if we let this go without appropriate outrage we are guaranteed to witness even worse, and then it may eventually be you personally whose property is stolen, whose business destroyed, and whom ends up behind bars. Not because you’ve done something wrong, but because you’ve stepped on the toes of those in power, those whom think that might makes right. Just imagine what this does to the ambitions of entrepreneurs out there looking to provide innovative solutions. Would you dare compete with the music industry after last Friday, or get involved in any enterprise that could in some way shape or form be linked with “piracy”?