Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Megaupload down, FBI Charges Seven With Online Piracy (wsj.com)
698 points by waitwhat on Jan 19, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 337 comments



At the risk of megadownvoting here...

Megaupload never complied with DMCA requests - I made several as part of some research and never received any response. The site charged for access to, and provided advertising around, pirated content. The site paid people (users/staff - it's a fine line) to provide popular content.

It went to extraordinary lengths to hide the identity of its operators.

Now if people believe that anyone should be allowed to set up a site, fill it with full length DVD rips,and then charge $10 a month for access then no wrong has been committed. But I think most right-minded people would say that is wrong - otherwise we'd all be doing it.

Kim Schmitz has made a lot of money over a five to seven year period doing this. But the risk that came with that was that eventually he'd face serious jailtime.

I cannot believe that Megaupload is being touted as an anti-SOPA posterchild. It is, pure and simple, a piracy site full of pirated material. I'd be astounded [see update] if anyone here uses it for anything other than pirating. But let's not pretend it's Dropbox - it isn't.

I am also astounded that people on HN are calling this a legitimate business. What was its business? Was it being used to distribute Wikipedia archives? To host videos of people's kids singing? No - it was hosting pirated content. Not torrents, not links. AVI files of films. AND THEN CHARGING FOR ACCESS.

[Update: It seems some people below did use it for sending big files. Colour me astounded. I've never had to do this so it's new to me. I guess the fact remains that they had to subsidise this activity somehow - and that they made their money off popular content. They have to hope this is enough to cover their asses.]


Let's analyze the propaganda speak here:

> Megaupload never complied with DMCA requests

Based on not only the experience of others, but the claims of the DoJ itself, this is clearly false.

> The site charged for access to, and provided advertising around, pirated content.

This is true in the same way YouTube provides advertising around, and your friendly local ISP provides access to, pirated content.

> The site paid people (users/staff - it's a fine line) to provide popular content.

So does YouTube. So do various other business models.

> It went to extraordinary lengths to hide the identity of its operators.

How many legitimate business don't have their owners wrapped in layers of corporations strewn around the globe? Nothing particularly unique or illegal here.

> Now if people believe that anyone should be allowed to set up a site, fill it with full length DVD rips...

It's an outright lie to claim that they themselves filled it with said rips. The users did. Just like many other sites, usenet servers etcetera.

> Kim Schmitz has made a lot of money

Yeah, that's a crime...

You've already corrected one claim, that Megaupload wasn't used for legitimate purposes.

Full disclosure: personally, I believe copyright in it's current form should die. Partly because of exactly this: it makes virtually impossible to provide any service around something that is way more important than the profits of the entertainment industry: the freedom of people to share information.

I also highly doubt this would actually be much of a problem if there was any economic impulse for the entertainment industry to provide a decent alternative.

In the current context, with a ridiculous artificially created scarcity, how the hell is anybody supposed to run a site like Megaupload and not have it full of "illegal" DVD-rips and shit, whether they like it or not?

The DOJ might have evidence that this was deliberate, but all the rest of us have is propaganda and deeply biased speculation.


>> It went to extraordinary lengths to hide the identity of its operators.

> How many legitimate business don't have their owners wrapped in layers of corporations strewn around the globe? Nothing particularly unique or illegal here.

I might be slightly off-topic here, but I think this is a good opportunity to point out the danger of falling for a "Halo or Horns" fallacy.

Wikipedia doesn't compare the Halo effect with the Horns effect but it does have an article about the Halo effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_effect

Simply put, if you believe one aspect of a person (or thing) to be bad, you're more likely to judge its other aspects in a negative light. Similarly, one good characteristic can make you more likely to judge the other aspects in a better light.

You can see examples of Halo vs Horns all the time if you look for it. It's very common when mob psychology comes into play, and often causes a change in the status quo.


Did you read the indictment before attempting to "analyze the propaganda"? Unless you believe the FBI's evidence is manufactured, then some of your rebuttals are already known to be false. The owners of the site were uploading DVD rips and music albums to the site, not just users.


>> The site charged for access to, and provided advertising around, pirated content.

> This is true in the same way YouTube provides advertising around, and your friendly local ISP provides access to, pirated content.

I can get the full "The Dark Knight" in 720p on YouTube? Links please


Not 720p, but I don't think that was really the main point. By the way, I just got the link by going to YouTube and searching for "the dark knight part 1".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuaUcGr32SM


Well, starting at about part 6 it displays a copyright message for me so you can maybe call this an extended trailer.

The point is that YouTube doesn't offer a movie experience that is comparable to what was available on megaupload.com


The point is it still provides access to and advertising around pirated content.


You can host videos on Youtube that don’t show up in search results and link to them from 3rd party websites. That’s exactly like Megaupload, but with streaming.


And that is illegal and when DMCA complaints are filed access to the content is removed.


The other side of this SOPA battle is playing us like a fiddle. This WSJ article took our stance (it's not my stance but the majority here's stance) and attacked us with it by saying we're pro-piracy. That doesn't go over well outside this community. If we just got off the copyright/privacy topic for a minute and focused on the big picture we could fight more effectively.

Point out that SOPA/PIPA are unnecessary because the Feds are shutting down sites just fine without it. Point out that due process is done away with by SOPA. Etc.

They want us to be talking about copyright and piracy but this isn't about those things at all! This is total misdirection by the other side and we all just played into it. What this is really about is the government and entertainment industry trying to grab the power to do the things they've already been doing without having to go do all that annoying stuff like gathering evidence, building a case, or holding a trial. For being such a big group of smart people I'm surprised I haven't heard anyone else point this out before.


> saying we're pro-piracy. That doesn't go over well outside this community.

Just a side-note: that's not necessarily true, and a perception that is partially based on scare mongering. Vast numbers of people engage in "piracy", and it isn't seen as harmful by the general public. Hollywood and music industry aren't exactly as popular as their products either, and it's the biggest fans of those products that "pirate" the most.

Piracy and illegality isn't necessarily something that scares the general public either. I'm thinking for example of the illegal pirate radio stations in Europe in the past. Hugely popular, and eventually the reason for their existence was accommodated by the law.

On the other side of the coin: the mainstream US public hasn't been particularly concerned about throwing due process out of the window since 9/11... Fuck, it's public knowledge that the US is detaining and torturing people outside the law, the people are cool with that.

Since when has "due process" suddenly become a convincing argument for the masses? Maybe you should actually be waving the pirate flag instead...


Though the public may be pirating a lot there's a disconnect between what they perceive as pirates and piracy and downloading torrents of the new Lady Gaga album. This is all about PR and when the opposition uses piracy to describe the bill the public has an easy time getting behind that. Whenever I hear SOPA on the news it is always described as "a bill that aims to reduce online piracy".

You make a good argument but that argument isn't aimed at the right audience. I for one have pirated copyrighted material but I wouldn't want my own work to be pirated and I'm actually for copyright. I'm pretty honest with myself so I recognize this disconnect and understand that SOPA is bad for the public but others like me hear "piracy" and immediately think of shady websites that steal credit cards and other individuals. It's always "someone else should be arrested for doing this but not me because (insert excuse here)". They just don't think of themselves or what they do as piracy. They think of it as isolated incidents that aren't a big deal even if their entire music collection came from the Pirate Bay.

The negative perception of piracy/pirates is fear mongering but it works. Also, despite the attitudes of Europeans that doesn't help. This is a US law and US citizens don't think that way. I don't want to offend anyone but I think that a lot of us here live in a bubble. We're surrounded by techies and programmers and people like us so we forget who we really need to convince.

It's people like our parents who we have to convince. Young people like me may get it completely of theyre tech savvy. If they're not then they get it to a decent degree. But young people in the US aren't as active in politics as they should be. There's been an impressive response to this but I still think our little bubble blinds us to the fact that far fewer people get it and are doing anything about this. Don't look at Occupy Wall Street, that issue comes from something that they personally relate to. Not having a job, being poor, and seeing the rich get richer while their financial situation isn't improving is very relatable, personal, and the cause lends itself easily to broad support. Piracy doesn't lend itself as well to such broad support. People aren't as concerned with the web as much they are about putting food on the table. To them this is a tech industry problem, not theirs.

I'm lucky and unlucky enough to be surrounded by mostly everyday folks and few techies. I'm 25 and I work primarily with people 10 to 40 years older than me (most are between 55-65). They're the people who vote. They can barely get MS Word to work. Those are, unfortunately, also the people who represent us in the US.

So while there may be decent support for piracy we still should broaden our scope and make this relatable to far more people. Make it about things people care about and use all the time like search engines and Facebook. If you tell them they could lose the ability to find what they search for because of censorship they'll come on board. If you say they can get sued or kicked off Facebook or YouTube for posting a picture or video of something copyrighted they'll be more responsive.

You're right that they may not care about due process so we can take that argument a step further and tell them in a way they understand. Instead of mentioning due process tell them their kid will (will not can) go to jail for posting the wrong thing on Facebook or downloading a single song. Or say they'll get a huge fine in the mail without warning. Let them know their online store will get shut down without warning and payments will be freezes. You'd be surprised at how many people who can barely use a mouse have had someone set up and online store for their little mom and pop shop or MLM business.

We're all so focused on logic and facts around here and that's not effective enough. It's one thing to have right on your side but it's another thing to be able to explain it to someone else. The web designers/developers here should understand this. We have to give our audience something they care about. We have to get people interested and listening before we can educate them and you do that by appealing to emotion by making it personal and relatable. I know it shouldn't be that way but that's how things work in the US. I'd rather swallow my pride and go about this in a way that works rather than insisting on being right and talking at people who don't want to listen.

You don't see the opposition talking about the facts, do you? They use emotion to get support. They make the word piracy negative and scare you with it while saying "we're doing this to protect you" which makes people okay with it. "Oh, so you just want to stop those dirty pirates? That's fine, put them all in jail because piracy is stealing and stealing is bad. Sure, I download a few torrents every now and then but I'm not a pirate" is the public's thinking. There's a lot of issues involved with SOPA and by trying to shove them all down the public's throat we're just overloading them and they're not listening. We have to focus on what gets this bill killed first and then try to change the attitudes of Americans. If we can just tell them how SOPA hurts the average working man without preaching about piracy and copyright we can kill this bill. Then we can all go off into our little splinter groups and do the same thing for piracy and copyright. 1. Kill SOPA. 2. Change attitudes towards piracy and copyright. 3. Stopping future SOPA style bills and getting pro-piracy/anti-copyright passed becomes far easier.

I won't be waving the pirate flag any time soon either. I'm still not convinced about it but I'm open to suggestion. The one reason I support copyright and am not a piracy fan is because as a creator I wouldn't want my work pirated. It would hurt me. But I'm still a consumer too and I see the danger of SOPA and don't want it passed. Even though I disagree with most people here I'm still with everyone in being against SOPA. I personally believe in a balance of power between creators and consumers. I'm willing to admit that the power is currently heavily favored toward the creators and wouldn't mind seeing copyright scaled back by a lot but I'm still not ready for it to go away completely nor do I think piracy is ethical.


I agree here. We should make the main issue the fact that MPAA and RIAA just want to do away with due process. So we have to ask ourselves, why are they doing that? It's because when these cases actually go to Court, they don't always win. In fact in a lot of the cases they lose.

This is why they've been trying to switch their strategy from fighting the "pirate sites" in Court, and instead just try to get Congress to pass a law that helps them bypass the courts completely and give them a kill-switch for all the sites they don't like. Their strategy with these bills has been "shoot first, and hopefully you don't ask any questions later and take us to Court".

So before anything, this is what we really need to focus on and fight against - them wanting to remove full due process. But once we do kill SOPA and PIPA for good, we really need to get Congress to kill the Pro IP Act (passed in 2008), which already allows ICE to take down .com, .org, .net sites without due process. In a way Pro IP is worse than SOPA and PIPA, because they already affect "US sites" rather than "foreign sites".


'What this is really about is the government and entertainment industry trying to grab the power to do the things they've already been doing without having to go do all that annoying stuff like gathering evidence, building a case, or holding a trial.'

Parts of SOPA/PIPA will make their lives easier, this is true, however it also grants new powers. Much recent fervor revolves around these new powers.

You also criticize the rhetoric of the community, but due so in reference to the Wall Street Journal. I have no doubt that they will be the last publication to adopt, support, or accept our rhetoric. Now that doesn't make the general criticism false.

The primary fallacy I see in your argument is instead that the terms like pro-piracy need be liabilities. There are pirate parties in several countries now, and historically powerful, emotionally salient terms can be used either as marks of shame or pride. Language is fickle like that.

Now I can say that there is a dangerous cancer in this country and it is a malignancy that has been growing for years, and now that we've found a way to hurt it, slow its growth, to bleed it out, it's releasing toxins. Piracy is the cure to the cancer on the creativity of America. I can say that the 1% of middlemen and lawyers that call themselves 'rightsholders' are afraid of people point out how bloated they are, and how Un-American it is to be bad at your job, inefficient, and dictatorial. They represent barriers to innovation, to freedom, and to the growth and prosperity of their nation. Some of us have decided the situation is so intolerable that we will advocate breaking unjust laws and causing direct, lasting, and public harm to this institution.

This is protest and the hope of change. It is only history that will determine who played whom.


I think the terms we're talking about really are liabilities. They're being used against us. The US is a completely different animal than other nations. Maybe we can get the public to think differently about piracy one day but considering the short amount of time we have to stop SOPA I think we need to prioritize and leave that fight for another day.

Discussions and movements surrounding copyright and piracy are definitely something we need to have but I think it's more important in the short term to stop SOPA and then leave these other movements for later. We can't change American's attitudes within a month or two. So let's prioritize and make it about the things I said earlier rather than focusing too much on the piracy and copyright. And yeah, the law does grant new powers too but you can't throw too much information at people all at once or they shut down on you. We have to break this up into small, manageable, relatable terms to get others on our side.

As it stands it just seems like we're preaching to the choir amongst ourselves. We all have slightly different opinions when it comes to some of the details but for the most part we all get it and we're against this. It's the everyday non-techies we need to reach.

I actually am in the minority here. I support copyright, I think it's valuable, and I'm also against piracy because of how I'd feel if someone pirated software I developed. But I'm still on your side when it comes to SOPA. I even feel that copyright goes way too far and wouldn't mind seeing the term shortened by a lot. But I do get this issue. There are a ton of people who share my opinion on copyright and piracy who think SOPA is actually a good thing. Their logic is that if piracy is bad then this law to stop it is good. We don't get the finer points, we don't know that there are laws in place that stop piracy already and that they're more than sufficient, and we generally think of pirates as the traditional back-alley, trench coat wearing bootlegger types. Those are the people you need to relate to. There's not enough time to change their mind on piracy so you have to frame it in a way they relate to. Make it personal. When I say we, I mean people who share my (minority here) opinion on copyright and piracy. I get the SOPA issue but others like me don't.

Hopefully I wasn't too confusing with all the pronouns I just abused.


amen to that! Power to the people!


It's better to allow these sites to continue to exist and demand that they comply with the requests than take them down with the FBI or whatever law enforcement agency.

The precedent is far too dangerous. It's so dangerous that it could make PIPA / SOPA look like little cute puppies.

The moral issues of being a pirate or not being a pirate and of allowing or not allowing piracy to exist are more of a "feel good, don't be weird" matter.

These legal precedents can and will be used to silence any kind of protests and all things like: articles / reports about police brutality, murders, people "vanishing" conveniently when what they're saying is incovenient for someome, fake votes, scandals of all sorts.

Today it's Megaupload, tomorrow it will be YouTube. After that, they will interrupt a live report which is incovenient.

If you think those who rule are better than this, you're wrong. We've seen it before and we're seeing it again: Apple used the FBI and the police on the country's territory as its own security force as if the country was its headquarters, the FBI seems to be used more and more to go after pirates and other such things.

Meanwhile, all kinds of bad things happen around the world, but the law enforcement agencies are too busy to defend the copyrights of big companies which want more billions in the pockets of those who own those companies.

While the people are paying their taxes and are expecting to live a life without being worried they'll be nuked by some insane dictator, they really don't want to look over their shoulder to make sure the politicians who are ruling the country aren't being replaced by the puppets of the corporations.

After all, making sure a 12 year old doesn't download an mp3 from Megaupload is far more important than making sure my children won't be having a probe in their bodies to tell the companies and the government where they are, what they eat, what they like, if they're sick, what they're seeing and saying and what their opinion is on the ads they see.


It's funny how people are raging against the "government" who shut down Megaupload, when really the feds were merely the instrument.

The real decision was made in some corporate office somewhere - the real owners of the weak little puppet called "government".


The state consists of two parts, the corporation and the government. The government are not some dumb fools who are just "get used" by some old shadowy men in some corporate office. Its a symbiotic relationship.


In time, thou', the balance may tilt one way or the other.

In China nowadays, it's heavily tilted government-side. In the US, it's just as heavily tilted corporate.


Apple didn't "use the police and FBI" - the police and FBI investigated crimes that are under their legal purview. Theft and corporate espionage are serious crimes and they are seriously investigated by both local police and the FBI. This is totally normal.

My mother once casually knew a guy who ended up stealing a bunch of computers from a company he consulted for. Because they had sensitive data on them, the FBI visited us.

Why? Because that's a crime the FBI covers.

There was nothing wrong, no extension of corporate powers, no overreach, no special treatment at work with the stolen iPhone prototype whatsoever.


I'm more upset with the precedent than I am with the particular site.

I've never made a DMCA request against them, but my understanding from the DoJ presser was that they did comply with the letter- They removed the links that were sent. They just didn't necessarily remove all other links to the same file.

When you filed yours, did you follow legal procedure, and go through their registered DMCA agent with paper mail, etc? (I'm not implying you didn't, I'm trying to understand this whole mess)

Let's say for the sake of discussion that these were "Bad Guys", and the site was used for infringing purposes.

If they're following the US law, they still ought to be safe. You can arrest people for breaking laws, but not for being assholes.


I followed the procedure to the letter - that was the whole point of the experiment. Do you honestly think they have a whole team of people diligently working through DMCA requests? Of course not - it's the foundation of their whole business.

Now proving this is no-doubt going to be difficult. And prosecuting in front of a jury who have been pummelled with anti-SOPA sentiment for months is a nightmare. So I think they've a very good chance of getting away with it.


I'm interested in reading the data and procedures for your experiment. Where can I access it? I hate to say this, but until you provide your work; it's really difficult to believe anything you just wrote. Not to mention it's pretty impossible for the people at Megaupload to defend themselves. How do we know that you actually followed procedure? What do you define as proper procedure? What were the items in question?


You have to own the copyright to issue a takedown request under the DMCA, no? What did you issue the takedown request for and who uploaded it?


Regardless of precedent or merits on this case, the fact that it exists at all makes it harder to justify the existence of SOPA or PIPA.

They didn't need either act to be passed to arrest a bunch of people in New Zealand, after all.


It is an extradition proceeding, not charges under New Zealand law (according to http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/6288082/NZ-...).

For the request to go ahead, the alleged offence need to be an extradition offence (http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1999/0055/latest/D...) - which means that the alleged conduct of the defendants would be a crime in New Zealand if it was done here, and would be a crime punishable by 12 or more months imprisonment in the US.

New Zealand has a bar to Internet provider copyright liability (http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1994/0143/latest/D...), defined as follows: " Internet service provider means a person who does either or both of the following things: (a) offers the transmission, routing, or providing of connections for digital online communications, between or among points specified by a user, of material of the user’s choosing: (b) hosts material on websites or other electronic retrieval systems that can be accessed by a user " However, ISPs have to forward notices from rights holders to the user, and after the third notice, to the copyright tribunal, allowing proceedings to be filed.

If MegaUpload did nothing more than offer a file upload service, and complied with the applicable procedures for responding to rights owner requests, it seems unlikely that that particular allegation would amount to a crime in New Zealand. However, the article lists a number of charges, and the extradition law doesn't allow them to challenge the alleged facts, only whether they amount to a crime in New Zealand and the country they are being extradited to.


Presumably this is why Universal have been talking of "conspiracy", they'll have tried to find some sort of loophole to avoid NZ from applying a local "safe harbour" law. Not that NZ probably have a choice about it all ...


This sounds like a somewhat clever loophole around DMCA requirements. Host the same/duplicate file at an approximately infinite number of different URLs and take them down one by one as DMCA requests come in for specific links. This seems like a someone complicated loophole to write around because even if the DMCA was changed to allow takedowns of media and it's duplicates (if it doesn't already) you could combinatorially add random junk into the stream and circumvent that as well.


That's not how the DMCA works - you can notify the site of the content and require them to remove the content and/or any links to it.

Read some samples from ChillingEffects: http://www.chillingeffects.org/dmca512/notice.cgi


A more nuanced version of the system newhouseb is proposing would be one in which, for every 'upload' of the file that receives a DMCA takedown notice, the associated download link could be deleted (i.e. complying with the notice as far as the rights holder is aware) but another one almost immediately created, linking to the same content.

The host could simply claim another user uploaded it after the DMCA notice was received and the original link removed.

Presumably DMCA notices don't apply to future uploads as well? That would be almost completely unenforceable for a service like Megaupload.

Edit: Just a couple more proposals for such a system. First, the link re-creation could be conducted randomly at different times after deletion for different uploads, giving the impression that it is not the result of an automated process.

Second, a host could publish all the DMCA notices they receive, providing a plausible explanation for why all the content is 're-uploaded' soon after being taken down. Surely a host can't be held responsible if its 'users' take it upon themselves to almost immediately re-upload any content taken down by DMCA notices?


DMAA safe harbor only applies if you are not aware of the infringing content. If you have a bunch of links to the same file and only take down one then you have no protection under DMCA and the standard 'greater-than $3k damages then go to jail' applies.

There is also a red flags test. If a reasonable person would be aware that the site is hosting files that infringe then it's not protected. And also you can't get direct financial benefit from it, you have to close accounts of repeat offenders, and some other restrictions.

Basically everybody knew Megaupload hosted warez, there were red flags, megaupload didn't take down links they knew were warez, and they made money off of it. Case closed. There may have also been legitimate use of megaupload, but they weren't covered by safe harbor and them being shut down is the law working as intended.

> you could combinatorially add random junk into the stream and circumvent that as well.

One could, like how people flip/speed up/record tv to get around youtube blocking, but it would take a lot of work and dedication to keep uploading your 500+ MiB movie rips over and over again.


> If you have a bunch of links to the same file and only take down one then you have no protection

But the existence of a copy does not tell you whether the uploader had the appropriate license from the copyright holder, or is the copyright holder, of that copy. Files do not fit into "legal" and "illegal" bins by the order of the bits alone.

Let's say I create and sell a software package. I upload it to my Megaupload account so I can easily access it later at another location.

Someone else uploads a copy they bought with a stolen credit card so they can share it on a warez forum. I send a DMCA notice of infringement requesting this copy be removed from Megaupload.

Should Megaupload now also locate all links to that file and remove them, including mine, which is entirely legal for them to host? Is Megaupload required to breach its contract with me as a paying user of their service, in good faith and violating no laws, in order to meet the DMCA safe harbor requirements? I think not.


This is exactly the sort of clever hackery that coders think is a loophole but judges think is contempt of court and obstruction of justice.


If you have half an hour left watch the following video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLEe496IS1o Errol Morris interviews the notorious NYC lawyer Murray Richman. In the end you will realize, that it is all about the "asshole" factor and very little about actual laws.


I don't understand this. Megaupload is based in Hong Kong. How does the DMCA apply to them?

The site operators were arrested in New Zealand. Most aren't even U.S. citizens: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/01/megaupload-indicted...

Now they're being charged by the FBI. How did it happen that the entire world is supposed to comply with U.S. law?



"The arrests were carried out by Organised & Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ) and police, following a mutual legal assistance request from the United States"

NZ Herald has more: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&obj...


Your link says the state of Virginia is claiming jurisdiction because some of the servers were there. The lesson I guess is if you're going to run a site like this, don't host it in America.

There's no indication that any laws of New Zealand were broken. The NZ cops simply cooperated in enforcing U.S. law.


The Berne Convention stipulates that the laws of where the copyright is registered takes precedent.


So you're saying if 100 countries each have their own DMCA-like requirements for notification and takedown, each a little different, then if I have any kind of site where users post content, under Berne I have to implement 100 different systems?

And then somehow I have to figure out where each item was originally created (not posted from), and apply the appropriate system for that file?


Can you quote me Berne on that one - it seems strange because copyright is an unregistered right. USA as one of the last countries to accede to Berne retains some registration systems as a way for rights holders to get access to greater fines in court. But this is not a widespread system.

Do you mean the country of origination of the copied work?


Yes it is origination. Your are correct that registering is an outdated concept and Berne actually insist on automatic copyright in the origin country.


It's a good thing that common carriers are well-protected in the United States, then.


I keep wanting to see some one fight extradition to the US on the grounds that water boarding is torture and that the country can't legally extradite to countries that use torture.


Watch the EU.


I believe that the money laundering charges significantly ease extradition matters.


I don't quite get this either. They weren't that stupid to have their servers in the US where everything is illegal, were they? And what about similar sites like Rapidshare? How do they get to be still up and running, yet doing quite the same thing for decades?


>I am also astounded that people on HN are calling this a legitimate business. What was its business? Was it being used to distribute Wikipedia archives? To host videos of people's kids singing? No - it was hosting pirated content. Not torrents, not links. AVI files of films. AND THEN CHARGING FOR ACCESS.

So by your definition, Dropbox is an illegitimate business because I stuck my (purchased) copy of The Dark Knight on there and they didn't remove it?

I used MegaUpload. A LOT. For legitimate content. It's very useful because I don't have to worry about hosting it on my own server and potentially going over my bandwidth cap (I send RAR files with large images for graphic design, totally legitimate need for MU).


Android ROMs from XDA-developers are often distributed there.

E.g. http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=957652


Just to provide one counterexample, I also filed DMCA complaints with Megaupload in the 2009/2010 period. The files were removed as requested, silently.


"I am also astounded that people on HN are calling this a legitimate business. What was its business?"

To be honest, I was not aware that Megaupload in particular was that pro-piracy. The times I've come in contact with them has been for legitimate content, a few times a month. I've never really liked them though, because of all the secrecy behind those who run it, and the design of the site itself which doesn't appeal to me at all.

You have to recognize that there are legal uses for such sites too, however. From my experience, people love sharing _their own_ music and images there, and that is reason I come in contact with them at all.


Now if people believe that anyone should be allowed to set up a site, fill it with full length DVD rips,and then charge $10 a month for access then no wrong has been committed. But I think most right-minded people would say that is wrong - otherwise we'd all be doing it.

Just not true. I don't think there is anything wrong with videotaping police going about their business (without breaking any other laws, hindering them at their job, and such), but you WILL NOT find me doing it in my home state (Illinois) due to such actions being zealously prosecuted felonies. Many other people agree with me here. A cost/benefit analysis making me choose not to do an action is much different than me thinking that action is wrong.


I believe AlexMuir's implication was that things which are illegal are automatically wrong, since it's obvious that HN, in particular, has lots of users who don't believe filesharing is wrong.


I can't speak for Alex, but I'm quite sure that wasn't his implication. He was stating that knowingly distributing pirated content for profit was wrong.


First they come for the sites that are 90/10 pirate to legit. Seems reasonable. Then 80/20. Then 70/30. Now they're getting the process streamlined. How far will they go? 20/80? 10/90? When will it be too much? When does it become unreasonable?


Your comment reminds me of Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak out because I was Protestant.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

I don't know when it will become unreasonable, but I don't want to get to that moment, just to realize there's no one to speak for us. They may start with piracy (OK, they are violating copyright), then why not libel, seems fair enough. And while we are there, why not stop this, and that.

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri had an excellent phrase that I always remember:

The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.


I liked the Alpha Centauri quote a lot so I searched it and I think the beginning of the quote is just as interesting: "As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century..."


You are absolutely right. But I didn't write that sentence, because I think it applies to everyone, not only American.

In one example, take the Arab Spring for example, making governments fall thanks in part to the free flow of information (via internet).

Or Spain's Sinde Law (which brings SOPA-like restrictions to Spain).

We are a global community now. So it applies to everyone, everywhere.


I agree completely, I just thought it was awesome that right now many of the headlines are focused on the U.S. which aligns with the "Painful" learning of the Americans in the context of the game ;)


It's disgusting that you chose to reappropriate that quote in this context.

If you read the indictment, it's clear that this was the purposeful monetization of pirated material. It wasn't a few users who uploaded some things. It was a criminal site, operating in bad faith, committing a multitude of crimes.

You should seriously be ashamed of yourself for comparing those famous words to seven criminals (who have strong evidence against them) who are about to get a jury trial.


You wouldn't say that if, in years ahead, you find yourself looking back and realizing acts like this were the beginning of a tight grip on information and freedom from a world where you're afraid to do much of anything anywhere in the world for fear of your business being shut down, being arrested, and treated as guilty until proven innocent, you probably wouldn't feel this was a disgusting comparison.

I understand that it's easy to get swept away in fearful hyperbole, but it's not a bad thing to keep a cynical eye on the actions of a government, and not a bad thing to look to history at its worst for warning of a future we'd like to avoid. It's not a 1:1 comparison he's done, but it's a valid concern.


Nothing about this case makes me fear your future.

I read the indictment. The cause for fear simply isn't there.

It's useless to pretend you're keeping an eye on the government when all you're really doing is getting a tiny shred of information and then getting hysterical because of it.

Please don't pat yourselves on the back simply because you're able to get hysterical with your willfully ignorant, less-than-half-baked ideas about what happened. You aren't doing something noble, you're doing the opposite. You're making it hard to fight REAL fights because you're using energy on bullshit.


I don't feel anyone is getting hysterical, and I feel his quote wasn't invoked for the benefit of the MegaUpload execs but rather at the current climate in general. Part of paying attention is to digest every 'shred' you do get.

Also, this is an online forum, I doubt anyone feels their conversations here are noble acts or something to pat oneself on the back over, so painting broad ugly pictures of people you know very little about is just rude and not helpful to the discussion.


I think you don't realize that my comment was a response to noonespecial: First they come for the sites that are 90/10 pirate to legit. ... When will it be too much? When does it become unreasonable?

So, I think the quotation was very fitting for the occasion, because it means exactly that. They may start taking people in custody because of a seemingly legit reason (in this case, copyright infringement, in the case of Nazi Germany, the Dolchstoßlegende). But power corrupts, and if they start passing laws to control more and more and more the Internet, who will be the next? It can be Reddit, an editor of Wikipedia, or even You.

But of course, if you wish to honor your nickname, that's not my problem :) have a nice day.


> I think you don't realize that my comment was a response to noonespecial: First they come for the sites that are 90/10 pirate to legit. ... When will it be too much? When does it become unreasonable?

If you'd read the indictment you'd know that the problem wasn't the percentages. We aren't standing on a slippery slope. Well, we are... but this case is not part of it at all. This case is a distraction from that problem.

This is, at it's heart, a completely traditional bust of a large-scale for-profit copyright infringement regime. Nothing particularly new about it at all, except that instead of finding a warehouse filled with tapes or discs, it's all on spinning metal disks.


They're not "criminals" until after the trial. This is the problem people here are having with this.

Site confiscated -> branded criminal -> trial. Is assbackwards.


KIM DOTCOM is a convicted criminal. (securities fraud, embezzling, and some other crap)

He's about to be tried again, for another crime. But he's already a criminal.

The person I responded to was comparing mass genocide to the orderly trial of a criminal who is suspected of committing more crimes. That disgusts me. It casually trivializes massive horrors.


For your information, half of my father's family died in Auschwitz. Luckily, my grandparents came here before war started and they saved their lives. So that's why I have very present what that quote means. But I also live in Argentina, where 36 years ago a Dictatorial Government killed people passing laws, just to arrest and disappear the ones who opposed to them. And what was the reaction of the rest of out society? Just say to their children: "Don't get involved in that." "Just leave well enough alone."

So no, I don't compare piracy with holocausts. That would be mad. But I have present that passing laws that allow the government to monitor everything you do online, may gradually and eventually lead to a dark future. And I dont want to get there seeing this moment as where it all started, and having done nothing about it.


If you'd read the indictment you'd know this has nothing to do with the government monitoring the Internet.

Sadly you were too busy comparing the enforcement of long existing laws to creeping genocide to read the actual case.


Kim Dotcom has, according to his claims, a clean slate.

For your information my criminal record has been cleared under Germany’s clean slate legislation. Officially I can say I am without convictions.

https://torrentfreak.com/from-rogue-to-vogue-megaupload-and-...


Neither German nor US government have the right do define or power to define language beyond its use in government affairs. In the English language shared by millions of people, Kim is in fact a convicted criminal.


It seems unproductive to society to treat "criminality" as a write-once binary switch, which once flipped can never be erased. There are far too many confounding factors. Someone is benefiting from the desire to brand human beings for life for something in their past, as well as the immediate assumption that accused is as good as guilty, but it isn't society.

In fact, I know someone who used to like Megaupload to an extent, but even before a trial, thanks to this cultural tendency and inflammatory news coverage, said, "It turns out they were guilty of racketeering and money laundering, so they were some pretty bad guys." Despite being a reasonably well-informed person, he too fell victim to the urge to equate accusation with guilt.

At this point it doesn't matter what Kim Dotcom did a decade ago in Germany, or whether Megaupload is guilty of all the things they're accused of and more. The damage to the public's perception of legitimate file sharing has been done, and what I think was the most important thing to come out of Mega, the MegaBox music service, is most likely dead.


Using the term "criminal" to describe somebody has already paid their debt to society for the crimes they were convicted of last decade is, to put it lightly, not polite.


There were indeed some awful things that happened back then, but if we act as though nothing else can possibly compare to them then we won't have learnt anything from them. It could be that things continue to get worse, and eventually are as bad, but by the time we get there it's too late - which seems like exactly what Niemoller's quote is trying to point out.


I don't think he was comparing it to mass genocide. He simply said "Oh that reminds me of this other text read".

I thought exactly the same thing. The text is structurally very similar, possibly on purpose, or it may just be an obvious structure.


What's the difference if you create a blog with ads, and your users started to upload ocr of books?

Would you like to go to jail even though 70% of your users are honest and giving you a profit?

If you think this is different, pls specify where the line is drawn


Slopes aren't always as slippery as you may believe. The point of this is that the site actively promoted and profited from piracy. This isn't Facebook with someone posting a few lines from a song, this is The Pirate Bay.

Think of it like this: have you ever successfully argued to a cop that you only drive over the limit 10% of the time? What matters is the deliberateness of the speed you were doing when you got caught.


The deliberateness has never once mattered when I was stopped for speeding. It didn't matter if I was aware of my infraction, or if it was intentional. Just the speed. It didn't matter if I only drove over the limit 0.001% of the time, I was still busted.

That's what I'm afraid of. A world where 1 user-posted file that someone claims is protected results in arrests and the total loss of my site.


Setting aside minor traffic infringements, intent is a very basic part of criminal law.

As a counter-example, what if you hit someone with your car? Do you think it should matter if evidence exists that it was an accident or if there is evidence that you hit the person purposefully?


Every time I've been pulled over, the officer asks "do you know why I stopped you?" If I claim I honestly don't know, there's a better chance that the fine may be reduced. Or going in the other direction, 10mph over while driving might garner a warning, while 10mph over with another car next to you doing the same speed would get your car impounded for street racing.


How exactly has Megaupload "promoted" piracy?

Rewarding people for uploading popular files does not constitute promoting piracy.


Actually the Press release claims that they nefariously DID NOT promote piracy and therefore promoted piracy, in some weird Kafka-esque turn of phrase. They purposely don't show download leaderboards, of (I have no doubt) infringing files. Interesting complaint.


>"This isn't Facebook with someone posting a few lines from a song, this i"

No, this is YouTube with people posting whole movies.


I agree with your thought process-- however, there is no reason to talk about what % of the service was used for piracy and what % wasn't. Non-owner/operator users should be viewed as completely separate from the owners and operators' and their actions. It doesn't matter if 99.9% of the users are pirating content, as long as the owners & operators were not engaging in illegal activities (including knowingly aiding pirates). The issue is that MegaUpload does't have the ability to determine what a user legally owns.

With that said, even if MegaUpload complied with legally-sufficient take-down requests, I imagine those who were arrested could easily be nabbed for simply having pirated content on their personal/work boxes... that's probably the fallback plan.

Side note- Google hosts a lot of pirated content on Gmail. It would be interesting to know how much pirated music is sent through Gmail in a day.


I'm pretty sure that the Feds didn't get copies of emails from Eric Schmidt saying that they need to fix the audio/video synchronization on the Sopranos... or that they need to rate-limit DMCA takedowns so they don't interfere with growth... or that they should ensure that when they do takedowns that they don't take EVERY copy down.

It's a specious comparison, made possible only because almost nobody on HN bothered to read the indictment before they got mad.


Thanks for letting us know; you are correct- I didn't see the indictment. I read the article quickly and came here to see what people were saying. I saw a lot of debate about "% of piracy," so I commented.

Wow the executives were deep in blatant piracy. It's fair that the site was shut down. Amazing, not surprising though.


Thank you. It's nice that at least ONE person recognized that maybe their uninformed reaction to a short article might not be 100% correct, and was willing to go read the indictment and learn a bit more.


[dead]


Arrests for large-scale commercial copyright infringement and money laundering schemes aren't new. This simply isn't an example freedom getting more and more restricted.


Have you looked at how all the popular open source media players handle bug reports? Pretty much all of them don't care whether the file in the report is pirated or not and a surprising amount of bugs seem to be found and fixed because they break pirated content...

Also, trying to take every pirated copy down has a huge false positive problem.


You are grossly misconstruing the nature of the emails whilst avoiding the other points entirely.

Read the indictment.


> It is, pure and simple, a piracy site full of pirated material.

Yes, but it was also full of absolutely legal content uploaded by law-abiding users. Many people don't have the expertise needed to set up a file server and not everything is small enough to be attached to an e-mail.

> I am also astounded that people on HN are calling this a legitimate business.

As I understand, they had problems of DMCA compliance. If you subtract the illegal files, theirs is a perfectly legal and quite useful business.


Unless they were paying their employees to knowingly submit pirated content, however I unaware evidence in support of this.


It's absurd that they'd have to pay their employees to submit pirated content when there's droves of people online who would willingly submit it for free.

This accusation is as absurd as saying TPB had to pay its employees to upload trackers of pirated content.


I can't resist pointing out that this is exactly what Grooveshark is currently being sued for.


From what I read Grooveshark is being sued by EMI for non-payment of royalties. UMG is suing Grooveshark for uploading music from its pre-1972 catalogue. However this all depends on the wording of the licensing agreement.

This is hardly comparable to uploading DVD screeners and R5s. Grooveshark to be operating legally (as they didn't get raided I'm guessing they're operating way too close to the law - well within counter-suit territory - for the major labels to actively attack them) would have had to be uploading the labels authorized versions, which likely means UMG gave them access to their pre-1972 catalogue without giving them approval to use it.


Don't say it then.


Good point my statement could be taken out of context. Would not have brought it up if it had not been heavily implied by AlexMuir and others, you can read my critical response to such: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3486750


> however I unaware evidence in support of this

Read the indictment. It contains evidence of this (amongst other issues).


Why does megaupload have to comply with the DMCA; they're a Hong Kong company. The US simply has no jurisdiction over what they do.


People in the US don't have to comply with DMCA notices either. The safe harbor provision of the DMCA does not create new obligations, it creates a "if this then that" situation:

IF a service provider receives a notice of infringement AND promptly disables access to the content, THEN the service provider is granted immunity from liability for that infringement.

If you ignore the notice then this provision simply doesn't apply. You haven't "violated the DMCA" or anything like that, you simply don't gain the benefits offered by meeting the conditions of that section of the law.

Why would an entity outside of the US choose to comply with those notices? Because they may be sued in a US court, and when in a US court, the judge is going to apply US law -- including the protections of the safe harbor provision.

Why would an entity outside the US care about the result of a trial in US court? First, because international treaties mean they may be extradited to the US for violating these particular laws, and second, because the officers of the company may wish to be able to travel to the US -- at which point a sentence against them could be carried out.


What you're saying makes no sense. Can Iran extradite me for writing software to upload pornography to the Internet? (It's a capital offense there.) Of course not, because that's not how laws work. They can try to extradite me, of course, but no reasonable country would ever assist them. Similarly, it makes very little sense to extradite programmers at Megaupload. Sure, Megaupload is probably illegal in the US. But we're not in the US, so it doesn't matter. (They got the extradition by saying that Megaupload is laundering money, among other things. This is like extraditing a coffee shop owner in Amsterdam for selling pot. It's illegal in the US, after all, and he's laundering his ill-gotten money by pretending to sell coffee.)

This is garbage and I can't believe any court in the world would uphold this extradition. I'm appalled that they even got a US court to issue a warrant for such obviously-trumped-up charges. This is truly unprecedented.


generally extradition treaties, out of common sense, require something to be illegal in both jurisictions. World powers are pretty much on the same page when it comes to money laundering. Following the money, as they say. Your dutch coffeeshop owner hasnt committed a crime in the us by any stretch of the imagination, and is operating according to the wishes of his government (even if the weed is technicLly still illegAl, the current setup is ok, and the coffee shop owners are not hiding their profits... so its not mney laundering.

The internet changes the landscape drastically.... and using current laws to deal with real issues involving it is often dificult to useless. That doesnt mean we shold justify things that are wrong, nor should we make bad law.

ignoring the international issues.... just because a site could be used for copyright infringement is noreason tomtake it down. but lets be realistic, there a many sites out there where the owners knew damn well that their primary customer base were copyright infringers, and they catered to it fairly directly. sure some people used it for other things..... but if the primary revenue stream hosting and serving unlicensed work and you darn well know it.... you are asking for trouble.


The issue I have is with the money laundering charges. When you do something legal and put the money in your bank account, that's not money laundering. So while running Megaupload in the US might lead to money laundering charges, running it out of Hong Kong doesn't. They aren't hiding the source of their money: it comes from people paying to download pirated content. It's China, they don't really care about piracy there.


Iran can ask the US to extradite you, the US government may comply if they feel it is in their self-interest.


They apparently rented servers in Virginia, which gave the US jurisdiction.


> The US simply has no jurisdiction over what they do.

That doesn't seem to be the case anymore.


Just because NYPD officer makes an arrest in Portland, doesn't mean that they have jurisdiction there.

The government's ability to preform an action does not legitimize that action.


> Megaupload never complied with DMCA requests - I made several as part of some research and never received any response.

Er, was this content that you held the copyrights to? That statement seems to imply otherwise, which wouldn't really be ok (or itself compliant with the DMCA).


That statement doesn't imply anything of the sort. I acted as agent for the copyright holders.


I had the exact same question as magicalist. So, even if you don't think that it implies not having the rights, it can certainly be read as such.

// edit: magicalist is the parent poster, not rorrr. Whoops.


> Megaupload never complied with DMCA requests - I made several as part of some research and never received any response.

A response is not required for DMCA compliance -- only disabling access to the content. Did you test that the links you gave them still worked?


I think this _case_ can be seen as an anti-SOPA posterchild, because it shows that existing laws can already be used to successfully prosecute piracy.

There are some other comments about precedents that this may be setting (i.e., _stretching_ existing law). I'm curious to see how this plays out -- will SOPA-like provisions be "read into" existing laws by the courts?


I'm probably not the average MU user, but 99% of the stuff I used it for pretty legitimate. Game files/recordings, map files, photo albums people were too lazy to upload one by one, personal videos between friends we didn't want to upload somewhere public like YT, etc.

This is all anecdotal and I probably agree with you that the average user most likely just used it to download music and pirated content, but I do think you're overlooking a ton of legitimate usages as well.


>Megaupload never complied with DMCA requests

Really? Because that statement completely goes against what people are currently saying over on Reddit (http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/onplj/feds_shut_...)

Some examples:

>I'm a DMCA agent and this may well make my job harder. Megauploads was incredible with their response time to DMCA notices.

>They swiftly remove violating content, which will inevitably appear due to their business model. They do not condone piracy, and comply with DMCAs.

>The funny thing is that they TRIED to prevent this. They allowed record labels and movie studios to search through the files and delete anything they found as a copyright violation.

So someone's either misinformed or lying.


1GB per file of reliable, fast storage. You can bet we passed larger files over it.


you weren't annoyed by all the spammy advertising?


Some people may use Megaupload for hosting legit files, but I've personally never seen it used in any context other than pirated content. I wonder what the percentage of traffic is for pirated/legit content?


You know, they should totally go after youtube next:

List of Full Albums:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=full+album&o...


Your argument blurs distinction between users submitting pirated content and employees at the request of management. They are two very different cases if you have evidence that was not in article please share, otherwise the amount of revulsion in your post seems out of proportion with the current evidence.


Maybe the majority of the content was copyright-protected, but that's not always bad. Of course, I'm not talking about the last Photoshop with crack or the new Brad Pitt movie. I'm talking about that old fanzine scanned by someone, which is now the only online copy; about the first demo tape of your favourite band; that movie of 1940 which nobody has anywhere... Contents that can't be found anywhere. Yes, they're infringing copyright, but in fact that's good. Cause if they weren't in MegaUpload (or similar site) they would not were anywhere.

PS: I don't think HN has degraded so much to megadownvote good comments with good reasons, although they don't represent the supposed mainstream ideas.


How is this different from people sharing a paid Dropbox account and uploading DVDs?


Scale.


It's not. DropBox will be next.


FYI downvoting mostly affects posts with no content or poor reasoning (usually both). I don't agree with you, but I will not downvote you because of that.

I'll only answer one point:

> Megaupload never complied with DMCA requests

[not even arguing whether it's true or not]

As far as I understand, people who are not residents of the US don't have to comply with DMCA requests any more they have to comply with Iranian request to take down something that insults Islam. I even personally think that insulting Islam is genuinely more harmful than copying copyrighted content, so it would be very hard to argue that DMCA requests are "good" while Iranian gov ones "bad".

The only reason why I can think it's wise to comply with DMCA is because US has 43% of world's military budget and it's a very scary thought because it attack independence of everyone else.


Megaupload operated in the US (servers and users). It is only the physical location of the proprietors that was non-US.


> I cannot believe that Megaupload is being > touted as an anti-SOPA posterchild.

That's the point! According to you, they were a piracy haven, and they were shut down. Without SOPA. So why do we need SOPA again?

This is pretty clearly an anti-SOPA talking point.


Add me to the list of people who used the site for legitimate purposes only. I used it to send things that wouldn't fit on my VPS's storage, and were too big for any of the other digital lockers.


I have most certainly used megaupload for "non piracy" purposes.


I agree about watching out against abuses by corporations or by the government, but megaupload was never the answer simoly because it didn't fill his purpose, which ideally should be to replace music and video brick and mortar stores. Netflix was better at that,and he was fighted for that too, unfortunately.


Thank you for offering your opinions on this matter, but allow me to disagree on the following points:

1) Robin hood was a criminal. Stealing is a crime, and he stole from the rich to give to the poor.

2) In this context, "piracy" does not mean stealing, it means sharing. Sharing objects, whether they are information objects such as movies or real objects such as lawnmowers, is natural and a natural right. See John Locke for details.

3) The MPAA, RIAA, and major software and video game makers have organized, through political donations and manipulating public opinion, a legal, institutionalized system of tyranny that deprives ordinary people of their natural rights.

4) The United States of America, through the FBI and other federal agencies, devotes considerable resources to finding and prosecuting those who work to oppose this system of tyranny. The United States of America is working for the tyrants whose business is predicated upon depriving ordinary people of their natural rights.

--- tl;dr ---

You do not have a choice between right and wrong. You have a choice between greedy scumbags who are tyrants and greedy scumbags who helping, in their own greedy, scummy way, ordinary people exercise their natural rights.


Well, if it helps to know, while I don't use it to send files, I receive files through Megaupload all the time. Files sent by their rightful owners. I try to get them to use Dropbox now but old habits die hard. (Hasn't Megaupload been around since before Dropbox?)


Personally, even though I had a premium account, what worries me the most is the precedent this sets. I think everyone should be worried.


At the risk of megadownvoting here...

There was a time when you didn't have to write this. :(


My friends, clients and PAs often used MegaUpload to send me big graphic and audio podcast files, and absolutely none of it was pirated. I don't use pirated software, ever. I happily pay for software I want, without flinching for a second.

So your over-generalization is flat out wrong.


> fill it with full length DVD rips

As long as users do it, and the site takes them down when requested, I'm pretty sure it's legal under DMCA.


As stated in your parent and elsewhere, Mega rarely responded to DMCA requests.


Sorry to split hairs but responding with a "we took down this content based on your takedown notice" and actually taking down the content are two different things.

I've had companies take down content after a DMCA notice but never inform me they have done so; there is no requirement for them to do so.

I assume you're referring to the latter meaning though--that they left up infringing content after receiving notice. If they did that then they're in deep. ...As long as the US has jurisdiction to prosecute, which they probably do.


> Kim Schmitz has made a lot of money over a five to seven year period doing this.

Probably more famous amongst German hackers but this is also the Kim "kimble" Schmitz of insider-trading letsbuyit.com fame who pulled PR stunts like launching "Young Intelligent Hackers Against Terrorism" (Yihat) to track down Bin Laden and before letsbuyit.com was trolling German coder newsgroups. After all that he tried attracting only "very high wealth individuals" to a company he founded in HongKong that allegedly specialized in automated artificial intelligence trading and that was about the last I remember hearing of him...

On a personal level, this is very, very satisfying to see they got him again on charging people per month for illegal downloads! He gives actual European hackers an extremely bad name.

> I cannot believe that Megaupload is being touted as an anti-SOPA posterchild.

This right here, people. This is not linux torrents we are talking about - this is "I want your money and I take it any way I can and will then post pictures of my extra-ordinary live style online" kim schmitz, a convicted criminal who prides himself on being successful "outside of rules and legislations".


Yes, Kim "Kimble" Schmitz is a name I remember from 90's. He was quite often on TV in Germany, showing off his luxurious life-style, girls and cocktails at a pool, that sort of thing. And then he was jailed. He is indeed a convicted criminal.

The german Wikipedia has a nice overview over his former activities: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Schmitz

This guy has never been a modern Robin Hood.


I'm right there with you. The whole legitimate use thing is a thinly veiled attempt to seem like they're legit. The vast majority of its users are there for the piracy and anyone who tries to say that the main purpose of the site was for anything other than that is either just lying to themselves or just lying. The fact that it can be used legitimately doesn't mean it is nor does it mean it was ever intended to. This is just a really weak case of plausible deniability


> it was hosting pirated content. Not torrents, not links. AVI files of films. AND THEN CHARGING FOR ACCESS.

Good. More and more of it is happening all over the net.

I hope it drives the studios, MPAA and RIAA out of business forever. The force of the US government will only last them so long.


I too am glad that someone finally went for the big guys. Rapidshare should be next in my opinion. They only make money on piracy and they know it. On the other hand, I hate when p2p networks are targeted (thepiratebay for example). Sure, they too make some money but nowhere close to paid sites like the megaupload and they don't even host the pirated content.


Rapidshare just fought (and won) an antipiracy case not too long ago.

*EDIT

More like a series of cases, actually. German courts seem much more level headed than their US couterparts. Details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RapidShare#Legal_issues


Indeed, when a site built around (partially) illegal content being shared, it's OK with me if they earn just enough not to lose money on operating the site. However, I do not believe you should profit off the content of others.


"I do not believe you should profit off the content of others."

This is the problem. Distribution is a perfectly legitimate business model, as is hosting. Think, I dunno, Youtube? They don't generate any content; should they not be allowed to make a profit?

Your stance is just strange. Megaupload can have revenue from piracy, just not too much? Once revenue from their illegal content passes operating expenses, they should stop making money off it? I don't understand what you want such a business to actually -do-.


There is a notion that "at some scale, significant quantitative differences are qualitative differences". This drives a lot of legislation around misdemeanors vs felonies and regulations that only apply to businesses/operations of a certain size.

Personal sharing vs mass piracy is a major example. Usually the boundary is drawn at money changing hands, but other boundary lines could be debated.


You might want to see my post below (or above, if the votes move it around). I don't have any issues with distribution as a business model, but essentially due to ideological reasons, I don't believe it should be primarily focused on illegal content, if profit is to be made.


Am I being downvoted because people think you should be able to earn money on pirated content, or because you think they should operate such sites at a loss (if at all)?


I'd think it might be the line "However, I do not believe you should profit off the content of others.". That's a blanket statement which probably has been misinterpreted as you being against any form of distributor or reseller business model.


Oh, I see. Thank you for pointing that out to me. My intention was to say that I do not believe that you should create a business-model around earning money on only pirated content. Helping artists getting their name and songs out there is a good thing, but without their approval I don't think you should profit off it.


Rapidshare is Swiss based, and it responds to DMCA claims. I doubt it will go down any time soon.


Megaupload is Swizz based, and it went down.


> Megaupload is Swizz based

No, they were Hong Kong based. Rapidshare (Switzerland/Germany) has already been sued there, and won, so their (current) business model, for the time being, is not accessible for american "shock and awe" justice.


No, I think he was joking because Swizz Beats is/was the CEO of MU.



Elsewhere in the thread, people are saying MU was from Hong Kong.

Where do you see it as Swiss?


It was a bad joke on the fact that a purported owner of Megaupload is the artist "Swizz Beatz".


Good one.


Wow, that article's certainly not biased! </sarcasm>

> "MegaUpload.com is already engaged in a legal fight with Universal Music Group over a promotional video featuring some UMG artists."

I suppose there are some reading that that don't know MegaUpload hired all the artists and had contracts and copyright licenses with them and had complete rights to the video, which UMG illegally and fraudulently filed a takedown notice against YouTube. Also, the loaded term "file-sharing site" certainly confuses the issue that the site is like DropBox and sells on line storage space. Plenty of legitimate businesses and artists use it to distribute files which they own all rights to. Just like YouTube, yes, some misuse that. Is YouTube also fairly called a "file-sharing site" by the Journal now? Would not know any of the real facts from reading this article. How far has fallen the formerly great, but now Murdoch owned and controlled Wall Street Journal. I was a subscriber for years, but gave up a few years ago when the quality plummeted and objectivity flew out the window.

Update: Oh boy, today two of the programmers that worked for Megaupload have been arrested and another is wanted for arrest: http://torrentfreak.com/megaupload-shut-down-120119/ All face 50 years in prison. (20 years for racketeering, 5 for copyright conspiracy, 20 for money laundering conspiracy, 5 for copyright violation.) This will certainly send a chilling message to any talented engineers considering a job interview at a company that allows third party uploads some of which are DMCA violations, such as YouTube.


I suppose there are some reading that that don't know MegaUpload hired all the artists and had contracts and copyright licenses with them and had complete rights to the video

TechCrunch claims that for at least a few, this was not the case:

In December, Will.I.Am, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and the others pulled their support, and it was claimed that they never consented to appearing in the video, which was subsequently removed from YouTube.

(http://techcrunch.com/2012/01/19/megaupload-taken-down-on-pi...)

I don't have any personal evidence either way, of course.


Can we know for sure some of those folks didn't make those statements after being blackmailed by their record labels or some "interested party"?

The way I see it, people change their positions when:

a)they're blackmailed - either you stop endorsing that shit or you're history

b)they notice everyone else is on the other side and they switch so that they're on the winner's side - see some of the beloved politicians & companies (BSA, MS, etc) pulling the plug on their support of SOPA

It's pretty easy to blackmail a musician when you're the record label. You certainly have far more money than the musician and dying from an overdose happens in the world of the musicians; the death of the musician even helps the record label with sales, doesn't it?


> UMG illegally and fraudulently filed a takedown notice against YouTube

I don't necessarily agree with UMG's action (and that's completely beside the point), but AFAIK (according to the news articles), UMG didn't file a DMCA takedown notice, but a takedown notice that was completely a contractual issue between two businesses (UMG and YouTube). There's nothing illegal there.


While I don't think it's good that it could be possible, their violation of a computer-usage agreement with Google could be criminal under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The CFAA's prohibition on "exceeding authorized access", where you had legitimate access to a system but used it in ways that exceeded your agreed-upon authorization, has been read extremely broadly, to basically criminalize violations of computer-access agreements. So if they deleted videos that the terms of their contract with Google didn't authorize them to delete, that could be a criminal matter rather than just civil. (The chances of anyone being prosecuted in this case are another matter.)


And then Google restored it, claiming UMG had breached that contract which only permitted them to take down content they owned.

That said, it's obviously some sort of grey area. Will be interesting to see how this plays out, though I already have my guesses, knowing that ex-RIAA lawyers were appointed to top Justice Department spots at the start of this administration.


What's the basis for the money laundering conspiracy charges?


Wow. This is a really interesting situation; I can't agree with this action at all.

1) The site complied with DMCA regulations, and removed material when asked.

2) The site did not directly promote piracy, which was Grokster decision.

3) The listed employees are all (or nearly all) not US citizens, so this required international cooperation, and extradition over copyright?

From my perspective it looks like they were follow the letter of the law on all, or nearly all counts. The DOJ seems to have decided that if they can't really charge them with something specific, they'll go upstream, and charge them with vague broad things.

This makes me rather worried that even if you run a legitimate business, and comply with the law, if the DOJ decides they don't like you, you're done for.

WTF?


If you read the actual press release and not the little WSJ blurb, then you'll see that DoJ's indicment said that MegaUpload actually did not comply with the DMCA safe harbor provisions and they did directly promote piracy. Of course, it's now up to them to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this is true.

As for the not US citizens, it's covered via the Berne Convention: The laws of the country where the copyright is registered applies. They probably spell out extradition, too.


>Of course, it's now up to them to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this is true.

Federal prosecutors have a 95 conviction rate for trials that go to jury.

Almost everyone plea bargains.


> Almost everyone plea bargains.

Yup, because the feds have amazing resources and the "law" is such that everyone is guilty of enough "crimes" to get 100 years.

In other words, feds win a rigged game.


In other words, they don't bring cases that they can't win. If you are Federally indicted, it's because they have more than enough evidence to convict. They don't like to lose cases, so they don't bring cases that are risky.


Exactly, our local District Attorney had a 100% conviction rate as DA because he handed off anything he wasn't positive he could win to his Assistant DAs.

Also many times the Fed can pick and choose what they prosecute more so than local prosecutors. Many Federal cases are instead of or in addition to local prosecution, so they aren't always completely necessary because the defendant will likely get local jail time anyway.


> In other words, they don't bring cases that they can't win.

That's not what I wrote. I wrote that they can convict anyone because they have vastly more resources and everyone commits several felonies/day, that is, is guilty.

Are you claiming that being able to win because of extra resources is good or is it the "everyone is a criminal" part that you like?


I know that's not what you wrote... because you said that the system was rigged. However, there is another (more likely) explanation - that the Federal prosecutors only bring cases to trial that they are likely to win. Out of the pool of possible cases that they could bring to trial, they only bring a fraction of those to trial. But the ones that they do bring are the ones that they feel they are more likely to win.

The reason that they can win or settle so many of their cases isn't their extra resources (which can be vast). It's that they are selective in the cases they choose. This ends up being self-reinforcing too - the more cases that they settle, the more the reputation that they have a strong case, which increases the likelihood that the next case will settle.

Their extra resources come into play when evaluating a single case, but when looking at the population of possible cases, it is their selectivity that skews the percentages in their favor.


The system works! :)


When you have enough work to keep you busy all the time it's easy to pick out all the winners.


Or, people do really believe when their government tells them a person is guilty.


As someone who has sat on a Federal jury that is definitely not true. As a matter of fact there were people that were outright convinced against the government and were only swayed when it was shown to be a pretty solid open and shut case.


thanks for this post, it helps to know from someone who's actually been in the situation. out of interest, are you at all involved in the law profession? how did they handle explaining complicated law language etc. to you as a juror?


I've been around enough lawyers to get the gist of what they're doing, but am not involved in the profession. A really good friend is a corporate lawyer and my mom was a courthouse clerk when I was a kid.

The case was pretty clear cut; you can't carry a weapon as a convicted felon and once you cross state lines you fall under Federal jurisdiction. The guy was caught going from MD to DC and back to MD with two pistols during a police chase. He tossed one out the window while in DC and had the other one was on him when he finally wrecked his car just inside MD. The judge explained the law before we deliberated and also explained that his prior conviction had no bearing on him being guilty of this crime. Two people on the jury were convinced that he was just being made an example by the Feds. At the time there was pretty bad gun running between MD and DC and the local MD district attorney had a hard time getting gun convictions.

BTW. Federal jury duty sucks. It's not a one day deal like it is for most county juries. Instead you're listed for an entire month. I had to go in 4 times before I was on a jury.


I don't disagree with you, but its hard to deny that MegaUpload was full of copyrighted material.

I always got the impression they were complying with the law in the most minimal sense, but had no real interest in preventing copyrighted works from being hosted on their site.

In some ways MegaUpload reminds me of YouTube. Its hard to deny that they got big by providing access to copyrighted material, but have since become a legitimate service for sharing legal works.


That's the thing, right?

"Complying in a minimal sense" is still complying. It shouldn't matter if their hearts were as dark as pitch.

We can't legislate the hearts of men. We can only use their actions in determining their fate.


Depends about the wording of the law, can someone have 1 person who has the job of fulfilling the DMCA requests even though the workload would require say 10 people to respond in a reasonable amount of time?


DMCA takedowns must be "expeditious", which I don't believe has yet been clearly defined by the courts.


If you bothered to read the indictment, you'd see they weren't complying and that they were actively facilitating.


>From my perspective it looks like they were follow the letter of the law on all, or nearly all counts

I used to see them as an agnostic upload bin, but I'm reading the indictment right now, and from my perspective, its certainly questionable.

I'm going to copy some text from the indictment here. I can see legal defenses that they could try to counter these claims, but I don't want to get into that, I just want to put this out there.

I may edit this later with more quotes, if I have time, I've only been skimming and only skimmed a few portions of the document.

>The site complied with DMCA regulations, and removed material when asked

   When a file is being uploaded to Megaupload.com, the Conspiracy’s automated system calculates a unique identifier for the file (called a “MD5 hash”) that is generated using a  mathematical algorithm. If, after the MD5 hash calculation, the system determines that the  uploading file already exists on a server controlled by the Mega Conspiracy, Megaupload.com  does not reproduce a second copy of the file on that server. Instead, the system provides a new and unique URL link to the new user that is pointed to the original file already present on the server. If there is more than one URL link to a file, then any attempt by the copyright holder to terminate access to the file using the Abuse Tool or other DMCA takedown request will fail because the additional access links will continue to be available

    On or about April 23, 2009, DOTCOM sent an e-mail message to VANDER KOLK, ORTMANN, and BENCKO in which he complained about the deletion of URL links in response to infringement notices from the copyright holders. In the message, DOTCOM stated that “I told you many times not to delete links that are reported in batches of thousands from insignificant sources. I would say that those infringement reports from MEXICO of “14,000” links would fall into that category. And the fact that we lost significant revenue because of it justifies my reaction.”

    On or about April 24, 2009, DOTCOM sent an e-mail to BENCKO,ORTMANN, and VAN DER KOLK indicating, “I remembered the steep drop of revenue at thesame time in 2008 and thought that this might have also been caused by careless mass link deletions. This made me very mad, especially because I told you that such mass deletions shouldbe prevented and sources checked much more carefully. I am sure such mass link deletions arealso contributing to a drop of revenue … In the future please do not delete thousands of links atones from a single source unless it comes from a major organization in the US.”

    On or about September 4, 2009, a representative of Warner BrothersEntertainment, Inc. (“Warner”) sent an e-mail to Megaupload.com, stating that Warner was “unable to remove links” to copyright-infringing content on Megaupload.com using the AbuseTool. In the e-mail, the Warner representative requested an increase in Warner’s removal limit,which is controlled by the Mega Conspiracy. On or about September 8, the representative sent afollow-up request, and on or about September 9, the representative sent another follow-uprequest. On or about September 10, ORTMANN sent an e-mail to DOTCOM, stating, “They arecurrently removing 2500 files per day - a cursory check indicates that it’s legit takedowns of content that they own appearing in public forums.” ORTMANN also stated, “We should complywith their request - we can afford to be cooperative at current growth levels.” DOTCOMresponded that the limit should be increased to 5,000 per day, but “not unlimited.”
>2) The site did not directly promote piracy, which was Grokster decision.

    On or about February 13, 2007, ORTMANN sent an e-mail to VAN DERKOLK entitled “my concerns about the thumbnails table.” In the e-mail, ORTMANN asked  VAN DER KOLK to create “a dummy lifetime premium user,” stating that “[t]his is very important to prevent the loss of source files due to expiration or abuse reports.”

    On or about October 25, 2008, VAN DER KOLK uploaded an infringingcopy of a copyrighted motion picture entitled “Taken 2008 DVDRip Repack [A Release LoungeH264 By Micky22].mp4” to Megaupload.com and e-mailed the URL link for the file to another individual.

    On or about October 25, 2009, VAN DER KOLK instructed a MegaConspiracy employee in German through e-mail how to alter the “featured” videos list onMegavideo.com and the Top 100 Megaupload.com list.


So, MegaUpload.com has two links to a movie file, each created by a different user (user1 and user2). The copyright holder files a DMCA notice against the link created by user1.

Should MegaUpload.com remove the link for user2? The rights holder has not claimed that the second link is offending. It's possible that user2 has the right to distribute the file, but user1 does not.

It's a dicey issue.


Dicey indeed. They were playing very fast and loose with 17 USC 512(c)(1)(a)(ii), if not the takedown provisions themselves. The nature of their service makes no distinction between the recipients, regardless of link to the file, and the only difference is which uploader would get points (or whatever reward they had). Its really hard not to give the impression that there weren't just looking the other way. Sites like (IIRC) hotfile.com completly blacklist the md5, even preventing re-upload of files if the get a DMCA takedown.

If a trial goes forward, I expect to see some case law made clarifying this area.


Your first two numbered points are not even close to true. If you bothered to read the indictment, you'd know this.

Sadly, you (like most of HN) are raging without bothering to get any real information first.


> According to the indictment, MegaUpload is responsible for at least $500 million in losses for the owners of the copyrights in question.

I really can no longer stand such outlandish claims. Do they mean they would have sold 50 million more movies at US$ 10 each if the site didn't exist? Or do they think they'd have sold 500 million downloads for US$1 each? Or 5 billion for 10¢? In fact, they most probably got a couple extra sales from people who really loved a movie they downloaded to the point of buying the DVD (or BD) version.


+100

Tired of sources supposedly at the top of their profession (WSJ) who simply repeat these money claims and don't ask to see any sort of study to back them up.

They printed another claim from the Motion Picture industry claiming "100,000 jobs lost"....ridiculous number, and WSJ doesn't even ask where they get the number from


It's the same thing as the DEA announcing they seized ten pounds of marijuana with a street value of 2 million dollars.


From DOJ Presser:

For example, when notified by a rights holder that a file contained infringing content, the indictment alleges that the conspirators would disable only a single link to the file, deliberately and deceptively leaving the infringing content in place to make it seamlessly available to millions of users to access through any one of the many duplicate links available for that file.

I assume the DMCA specifies content removal not removal of links/access to the content? It puts places like Dropbox in an interesting place. If you share a link with someone and the link is to something from "your own" storage space, and a rights holder issues a takedown (for the sharing aspect) is the company also supposed to remove the content from "your storage" assuming it is the same 1s and 0s? Should they have a right to if it is only you with access?


More interestingly, if I host a lot of files on a file-deduped storage system, where there is only a single copy to any given file with many different directory entries pointing to it, if user A has a movie he hold rights to and user B hosts the same file (ending up on the same physical file connected to a different directory entry) without having the right to do it and user A sends me a takedown notice, will I really be forced to remove the file A had because I have to actually remove the file, not only the means of accessing it?


But what if that other person has right's to the file, perhaps they bought the file while the other person obtained it illegally.


It's been shown that if you upload a file to dropbox with a hash that already exists in another userspace, the upload takes place almost immediately. This implies there is really only one copy of the file on their servers. This was maybe 6 months ago so who know what now.


Hosting files is a dangerous business - the line between being shut down for infringement and not being shut down seems to be drawn by who you know and what users you end up with, not any real actions, design, or technical differences in your site.

The indictment of Megaupload actually uses their lack of search function and censorship of copyrighted material from their "top content" list as marks against them. This means most other file sharing services which focus on one-to-one or one-to-many sharing and hence omit search and a "trending" list (looking at Dropbox, here) are vulnerable.


Censorship of the top-content list is actually a valid point against them. It means Megaupload had some system to identify infringing files, but rather than flagging them for investigation or deletion, they simply removed them from the public list.


I disagree. Distributing copyrighted material to unauthorized parties is an issue. Storing it doesn't seem like an issue to me. 100% of cloud storage companies are grossly violating all sorts of copyrights if this is the case. Storing it but removing the ability for the internet at large to leech it seems legit to me. If someone distributes the private URL to such files, I think that counts as them distributing it, not megaupload.

It's not a straightforward issue though.


This is a slippery slope - when can you actually "identify an infringing file?" Can I identify an infringing file because I match the filename against the names of popular movies? Probably not. Can my startup recognize infringing files because it calculates the checksum of each block of each file for use in deduplication? Sort of, with a lot of technical build-out, and never with any certainty...

If I see "OMG WAREZ.rar" in a news feed on my homepage, should I remove the file itself, all access to the file, or just the link to the file? What if I have a strict do-not-delete policy for user data? What if I have a strict do-not-download policy for user data (even public user data), to prevent me from accidentally possessing child porn on my work PC? Do I just make an arbitrary and capricious blacklist of file names?

It's absolutely not a valid point against them - their system for "identifying infringing files" was more like a system for "identifying bad-looking file names," which is tangentially related at best.


Not sure why anyone's drawing comparisons to Dropbox. MegaUpload was fundamentally a paywall in front of everything you can possibly imagine pirating. Basically a direct-download TPB with heavy handed incentives to convince people to pay to do it.

As a legitimate file sharing service, which to a very small extent Dropbox is, it was absolutely terrible - wait xx seconds or minutes to download a file at a reduced speed.


I thought the burning need for SOPA/PIPA was that there was no way for American legal processes to deal with international criminals? Have the MPAA and RIAA misled me about their sponsored legislation?!?


I think this could turn out to be a huge mistake by the entertainment industry. We absolutely have to take advantage of this as an example of how this legislation is unnecessary.


Maybe, but now I might be more concerned about the current laws. I don't want to go out and taut that the current laws are already sufficient; I don't to give the impression that we approve of them.

As others have pointed out: German citizen arrested in New Zealand over... US copyrights... copyrights... from the US.


DoJ press release with a little more info: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/January/12-crm-074.html


Of course, someone [https://twitter.com/AnonOpsSweden/status/160107848121061376] has now taken down the justice.gov website.

Google cache of the press release: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?hl=en&q=cac...


You shouldn't be able to shut a person's business down just by charging them with something. Any business but an enormous corporation would collapse while waiting for the charges to be dropped. A false accusation would end your business.


Is this the Megaupload run by the producer Swizz Beatz posted on here only a little earlier? http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3484419

So the RIAA are going after their own artists for allegedly stealing money from their own artists? What a weird industry this is...


It is naive to think it was only the RIAA or associated lobbying groups going after them.


1. I never said that. I just insinuated they were one of the parties that would go after the site.

2. Please don't walk around calling people naive. It's offensive and unnecessary.


Not trying to be offensive, but seeing the RIAA thrown around as this big boogeyman is annoying, and also seeing it stand in for labels, artists even more so.

One of the biggest foes for MegaUpload was porn, who have much more money but less lobbying clout than the RIAA.


The RIAA and major labels are one and the same. It is disingenuous at best to try and distinguish one from the other, when the board of directors consists entirely of label representatives.

Meanwhile, precious few artists whine about piracy like the RIAA does, you hear a lot more whining about the labels, because they're the ones screwing artists.


The RIAA represents WMG, UMG and Sony Music. Each of those has a bunch labels. They themselves are not labels. For instance, WMG corporate has no A&R staff.

The business of music is different than the practice of it, and lumping it all into the "label" itself is disingenuous. The politics within those companies usually means the labels at the very edge (where marketing and A&R are) are often at odds with corporate/RIAA.

When I'm on better a better connection I'll post some examples.

I don't mean to be pedantic about it, but the ecosystem around music is much more complex than "sue them all"


Division, brand, subsidiary, however you want to spin it. Common ownership, common responsibility. An entity cannot be "at odds" with a parent entity, such an assertion would be laughed out of court. Internal politics don't matter to the outside world.


I get that, but being inside, I can tell you that what labels would do often was at odds with their parent company, even in press and in public.

It's not spin, its fact. I participated.


The last sentence bugs me. It is ambiguous at best, but in this context it implies a criminal past. The truth is that UMG used a DMCA takedown notice to remove media that Megaupload alone owned the rights to. Megaupload felt that UMG overstepped their bounds and preceded to start said legal battle. It seems to me that the final sentence, presented without context, is editorializing; basically saying 'hey the FBI says these guys are criminals, oh and they are also in court for this other thing'.


At a glance this seemed like an obvious move, but the deeper you look everything stops making sense.

The emails between company officers suggest that they themselves used their own service to upload copyrighted content and share it with others, knowingly breaking the law. Case closed!

But what gives US law enforcement the right to obtain those private emails between officers of a foreign company? Reasonable suspicion of infringement? What suspicion? Suspicion of failure to comply with DMCA takedown notices?

What is the basis for that suspicion? Their failure to delete ALL links to any file for which a single link is reported. But as many others have pointed out, each of those links represents a specific user who has uploaded the same file. Without a public searchable index, each of those keys is effectively a distinct privately uploaded file.

So we come down to whether a copyright holder has the authority to say "anyone anywhere who has uploaded a copy of this file, does not have the right to share it".

What next? If a service like Dropbox borrows a hint from git and stores not just single file hashes, but distinct unique data chunks, and a takedown request calls for the deletion of say, a feature film, will they claim Dropbox knowingly infringed for failing to remove a 10 second chunk of that film that some student put in their dissertation?


So in terms of precedent, if dropbox can be used to store copyright files, could they also be shut down on a whim like this?


Yeah, The Dropbox Conspirators now probably must implement a public search function and the list of top files.

Instead, the indictment alleges that the conspirators manipulated the perception of content available on their servers by not providing a public search function on the Megaupload site and by not including popular infringing content on the publicly available lists of top content downloaded by its users.

Oh, and affiliate programs are now money laundering:

The indictment charges the defendants with conspiring to launder money by paying users through the sites’ uploader reward program and paying companies to host the infringing content.


Paying companies to host it? What the heck? That's like saying it's tax fraud to pay your electric bill if you're late on your tax return.


Did Kim own the hosting companies too? That would be a textbook example of laundering.


No. MegaUpload lost their safe harbor status by doing the following as spelled out in the DoJ press release:

As alleged in the indictment, the conspirators failed to terminate accounts of users with known copyright infringement, selectively complied with their obligations to remove copyrighted materials from their servers and deliberately misrepresented to copyright holders that they had removed infringing content. For example, when notified by a rights holder that a file contained infringing content, the indictment alleges that the conspirators would disable only a single link to the file, deliberately and deceptively leaving the infringing content in place to make it seamlessly available to millions of users to access through any one of the many duplicate links available for that file.

Of course this is only a grand jury indictment and they have not been found guilty in a court. But the Feds don't bring a case if they aren't damn well sure they can win.


the indictment alleges that the conspirators would disable only a single link to the file, deliberately and deceptively leaving the infringing content in place

I might be reading too much into this, but to me this sounds like ten people uploaded the same movie (maybe with different filenames, maybe different encodings/file formats), the DMCA request only named one of these files, and MegaUpload removed only that one file.

(I know the quote says "link" not "copy" but it wouldn't be the first time people get confused over the distinction.)

If so, this sets a dangerous precedent for other (maybe more legitimate) file sharing sites: firstly, if you host millions of files, detecting which files are copies of another file, or deciding which filenames are similar to other filenames, is not a trivial task. Secondly, as far as I understand the DMCA, it doesn't even require you to go to these lengths.

Of course, I might be totally off base and they might really have kept the very same file in place and just removed a link to it on some pages while keeping the link on others.

Does anyone know more details about this?


Even if it is the same file if the provided links are private I think they should be safe under how DMCA is worded. Each link can be considered a key to locker and it would not be Megaupload's job to know who should have a key and who should not. DMCA would require them to reject keys but not necessarily the locker under many situations. My previous post: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3486903


Interesting that its okay for content owners to have false positives when flagging content, but it is not okay for site operators to have false negatives.


Multiple people upload the same file with the same name and the same content. The file is hashed as it comes in and only one copy is kept.

If the provided link is private, not index by megaupload or search engines, then it can be thought of a private locker with the key being the link. In this case it should not be Megaupload's job to know who is supposed to have the key and who does not and it seems reasonable that they would only remove the link complained about and not the content. Those other links after all could be for personal backup/use which is allowed.

Can anyone verify/deny that the links Megaupload provided were private?


It's not even clear that they were deduping at the application level.


Perhaps more interestingly, can Amazon S3 be shutdown? My understanding is that Dropbox is effectively an S3 client, so how is that line drawn?


Using this case as a guide, Dropbox would be "laundering" money to Amazon and everyone at Dropbox would be arrested and charged with felony money laundering and face 20 years in prison.

"The indictment charges the defendants with conspiring to launder money by paying users through the sites’ uploader reward program and paying companies to host the infringing content."


I think it's worse that dropbox dedupes files, which means that they(dropbox) already have infrastructure that could seriously combat their use in infringement.

I do wonder how this plays into the whole Swizz Beats is CEO news.


I don't think dedupe seriously combats use in infringement - it just forces pirates to repack/recompress their infringing content into many different forms, which pretty much happens anyway since lots of "torrent warez" groups like to put their names and spam links on everything.

From a legal/rights-holder standpoint that's a double-edged sword - it could be argued that because Dropbox dedupe files, they have a head start on DMCA compliance, but it could also be argued that the technical infrastructure means they should be better at removing infringing content.


it does because I'm fairly sure they aren't deduping at the file level - which means they're doing significant introspection into exactly how different copies of the same file are. This is why dropbox is so fast - they only need to send unique diffs.


Content recompressed with a different file format at a different compression level will almost certainly not match, and many pirate sites use encrypted RARs which will all differ from each other almost entirely.

That's why I think the "Megaupload took down only one link rather than all the infringing content" aspect of this indictment is so scary, especially for a site that does perform introspection into its hosted files - it's easy for a judge to go from "you can send only unique differences" to "you can locate every instance of this copyrighted content and remove it or else."


The indictment papers specifically claim that megaupload was also dedupping files (general allegation 22.)

That's related to their claim that the DMCA take down requests weren't honored: Allegedly, while appearing to comply with requests to remove infringing content, they would merely take down the reported links, yet would keep alternate links to the same md5-hash-matching content working.


Thank you for pointing that out. That issue has been brought up several times but I had not yet read anything that quoted the indictment.


It seems that way.


I think the SOPA/PIPA blackout thing was really getting to a couple of congressmen / senators who knew about this FBI operation; They then told FBI to hurry it up so they can have something to respond. Let's watch which senator/congressman speak up to say this is an example of why laws like SOPA/PIPA are needed; $X million was required to bring these "foreign criminals impinging on American rights" to justice. With new laws they can be shutdown much more cost effectively.

When I'm looking for a job next time, it'll not be one whose primary business is hosting user content.


A graphic designer was one of those arrested...

I have a lump in my throat, I thought down in the pacific we were safe from your batshit crazy FBI.


It's probably Finn, Kims favourite designer who works for K. since forever.


The press in Czech republic says his name is Julius Bencko, Slovak guy.


SOPA and PIPA would help how? This appears successful without them.


I am assuming because it took 2 years to get to this point. With SOPA and PIPA in place there is no need for a takedown involving the federal authorities. Copyright holders can achieve the same much more quickly by using PIPA and SOPA to starve them of cash and audience.


Or in the case of foreign sites like Megaupload, the Attorney General can just say "We don't like you" and impose a censorship order on all US-based ISPs, ad services, and payment providers.


Edit: Leaving the original text so as not to confuse the conversation. Megaupload is a foreign (to the US) site with a US TLD, not a US-domestic site. The arrests were made around the globe, but mostly in New Zealand. The FBI may have initiated the indictment, but extradition applies, as does the Berne Convention.

SOPA and PIPA are intended to address issues with foreign-hosted sites being used by Americans to pirate American copyrighted works. MegaUpload is a domestic outfit, so they fall under existing copyright law, including DMCA.

The issue with fighting foreign-based sites is that they don't fall under US jurisdiction. Up till now, the RIAA and MPAA have taken to suing Americans using those services. However, that's not really putting a dent in piracy. So, they came up with SOPA and PIPA. Of course, how do you stop Americans from visiting foreign sites which you have no jurisdiction over? Using DNS filtering is the answer they came up with. Of course, they left the language fairly broad, and now they've stricken that part from the bill.

The real issue with SOPA and PIPA is the removal of due process. Since the laws deal with foreign entities, though, the waters get muddied.


My comment was glib. I agree with how SOPA and PIPA removes due process -- one I assume was followed over the course of 2 years. Investigation if a crime was committed, by whom, arrest offenders and confiscate goods.

Whether or not megaupload is guilty, it seems to me this was followed and bridged international boundaries nicking a "foreign" and "rogue site".

As an aside, I don't think megaupload fits a domestic definition. All indicted are apparently not Americans and it is a Hong Kong and New Zealand based organization.


MegaUpload are foreign. They're based in Hong Kong.

Also there were pretty high profile domain seizures done in two bouts over the last two years. ICE/DOJ seized domains (google it) - some of those were foreign based but with .com or .net. (I don't recall if any were foreign TLDs) There already doing anything they want anyway - and happily ignoring any due process - codifying these actions into law with PIPA/SOPA is just the icing on the cake.


How is Megaupload a domestic entity? All the parties were foreign nationals and were arrested outside of the US. The corporation was out of Hong Kong:

Megaupload Limited P.O. Box No. 28410 Gloucester Road Post Office Hong Kong


You're quite right. Sorry, missed that part. PIPA, I believe, defined foreign sites as foreign TLDs, but for the FBI to arrest people in New Zealand would require extradition or cooperation from New Zealand authorities. Otherwise, I fully expect the US to be invaded by the Kiwis shortly.


FBI doesn't have any 'job' other than chasing down bunch of movie "pirates"?


Why is pirates in quotes? The article says these guys made over $150M in half a dozen years breaking international treaties and operating illegally. Stopping them is exactly what the FBI's job is. It's not like they're going after jay walkers.


Probably because:

   pi·ra·cy/ˈpīrəsē/
   Noun:	
   1. The practice of attacking and robbing ships at sea.
   2. A similar practice in other contexts, esp. hijacking.
Is not the same as "making a copy of something in violation of copyright rules".


Get modern dictionary.

pi·ra·cy

noun /ˈpīrəsē/ 

piracies, plural

1. The practice of attacking and robbing ships at sea

2. Similar practice in other contexts, esp. hijacking - air piracy

3. The unauthorized use or reproduction of another's work - software piracy


A. My definition was a c+p from a Google search for "define piracy"

B. The equation of copyright infringement with other types of piracy (and theft for that matter) is misleading and pure propaganda (granted, its 300 year old propaganda, but still wrong).


>My definition was a c+p from a Google search for "define piracy"

So was mine! On further examination, it seems the third definition doesn't come up unless you click details. My apologies for the acerbic tone!


The word "piracy" has been used for "unauthorized reproduction or use of an invention or work of another" since the 1650s, according to the OED.


Agreed, it has a long history of being used in that sense. That does not however make it more correct. Perhaps it's time to stop just going with the equation of piracy and infringement, and instead call it what it is. Old misconceptions are still misconceptions.


To be fair, it looks like it was a busy day for them: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405297020446800457716...

More

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: