Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

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Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Qaanol » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:31 pm UTC

NY Times article
BBC article
The indictment

BBC article:
Spoiler:
BBC wrote:Megaupload, one of the internet's largest file-sharing sites, has been shut down by officials in the US.

The site's founder have been charged with violating piracy laws.

Federal prosecutors have accused it of costing copyright holders more than $500m (£320m) in lost revenue. The firm says it was diligent in responding to complaints about pirated material.

Investigators denied a link to recent protests against proposed piracy laws, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The US Justice Department said that Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz, and three others were arrested in New Zealand at the request of US officials. It added that two other defendants were still at large.

"This action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime," said a statement posted on the FBI's website.

The charges included copyright infringement, conspiracies to commit racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering.

A federal court in Virginia ordered that 18 domain names associated with the Hong Kong-based firm be seized. Search warrants have been executed in nine countries.

Before it was shut down the site posted a statement saying: "The fact is that the vast majority of Mega's internet traffic is legitimate, and we are here to stay. If the content industry would like to take advantage of our popularity, we are happy to enter into a dialogue. We have some good ideas. Please get in touch."

On Wednesday, thousands of websites took part in a "blackout" to protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (Pipa).

Industry watchers suggest this latest move may feed into the wider debate.

"Neither of the bills are close to being passed - they need further revision - but it appears that officials are able to use existing tools to go after a business alleged to be inducing piracy," said Gartner's media distribution expert Mike McGuire.

"It begs the question that if you can find and arrest people who are suspected to be involved in piracy using existing laws, then why introduce further regulations which are US-only and potentially damaging."


First note that Megaupload is based in Hong Kong.

As background, consider that just a month ago, the Universal Music Group made a fraudulent takedown of a Youtube video ad for Megaupload. In response, Megaupload sued UMG for abusing the DMCA. That case is still in its early stages.

Now four Megaupload personnel have been arrested in New Zealand at the behest of the US Dept. of Justice, and the Megaupload website has been blocked.

Personally, I have never used Megaupload, and don’t really know much about its operation. From what I gather, it’s a site where people pay money for the ability to upload files anonymously. I think it quite likely that there may have been a substantial quantity of copyright violation carried out by users of Megaupload.

Nevertheless, blocking a website without trial and arresting people over alleged copyright violations is a huge miscarriage of justice. Copyright is a civil matter, and should never have become criminal law. The allegations of copyright violation should be carried out in civil court.

Instead, we have the US DoJ calling on foreigners to be arrested by foreign government for things that should not be arrestable offenses in the first place. On top of that, we have a domain name seizure by the US DoJ—depriving a group of people of their property—without trial.

Censorship without trial is quite possibly the single most un-American course of action that is possible. This is a gross failure of due process, and the fact it has been enshrined into law via the ACTA and DMCA is unconscionable.

In my view, intellectual property laws need to be wholly reworked from the ground up to make sense in the internet era. Primary focus should be given to the right of individuals to access and share information. Any restriction to that must demonstrably outweigh the cumulative societal benefits produced by the free flow of information; all the more so if the method employed is to create an artificial government-authorized monopoly by implementing a term of exclusivity, thereby working against the free market as well as against free speech.

Intelectual property rights are necessary and beneficial in promoting the advancement of science, technology, and the arts, when done correctly. But when done incorrectly or too strongly, they not only infringe on the basic rights of the people, but they also fail at their intended purpose.

For reference, the whole of US copyright law can be found here. Copyright protection has gotten far too strict, well beyond the point where is does more harm by restricting flow of information than it does good by encouraging the creation of new works.

I don’t know how this case will play out. With the way DMCA and ACTA are written, it is entirely likely that Megaupload will be utterly destroyed and its proprietors will be jailed. About the best possible outcome I can imagine is a ruling that Megaupload merely provided a platform on which individuals could exercise their free speech in the form of sharing binary numbers that represent information. I highly doubt that will occur, however.

tl;dr: Censorship without trial is quite possibly the single most un-American course of action that is possible. Doing so in the name of preserving a government-created monopoly is anti-capitalist as well.
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Роберт » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:35 pm UTC

I think I've used megaupload in the past, legitimately, but maybe it was just a similar site.
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Gelsamel » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:48 pm UTC

Qaanol wrote:Personally, I have never used Megaupload, and don’t really know much about its operation. From what I gather, it’s a site where people pay money for the ability to upload files anonymously. I think it quite likely that there may have been a substantial quantity of copyright violation carried out by users of Megaupload.


You don't have to pay money to Megaupload to upload to it or download from it. Much like youtube, you require at least a free account to upload to it and it puts your account name on each of your uploads, just like youtube.

It does have a paid service and I'm not completely sure what extra features it has, so I can't say as to whether you can completely anonymise your uploads. But I know that the paid service gives you queue skipping for downloading and faster downloads and more downloads (there are restrictions otherwise)... as well as more upload space and removing ads and stuff like that.

That the US have taken down such a major site... I don't know what to say, I'm speechless.
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby sourmìlk » Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:30 pm UTC

Megaupload has a lot of content that egregiously violates copyright, but shutting it down without trial is unacceptable. I'm appalled that the US government would engage in censorship with exactly the same amount of due process exercised by every totalitarian state.
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Menacing Spike » Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:35 pm UTC

What the hell, it seems like a seven years old wrote the first part of the indictement. And it's highly derogatory.

"There's those guys, the Mega Conspiracy. They are a really really evil band of gangsters!"

Isn't there some kind of law against that?

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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Heisenberg » Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:38 pm UTC

"The conspirators allegedly paid users whom they specifically knew uploaded infringing content and publicised their links to users throughout the world," a statement said.

This is the damning allegation, from the BBC link. If these folks were paying people to break the law, rather than simply make the tool available, there's an actual crime there.

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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Ceron » Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:39 pm UTC

The Universal, RIAA, MPAA and Department of Justice websites are down currently, and Anonymous claims it's in retaliation for this. If someone would like to post a link to that story.

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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Zarq » Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:47 pm UTC

There is some stuff in the indictment that, if it's true, puts it in another perspective

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.23.

The infringing copy of the copyrighted work, therefore, remains on the Conspiracy’s systems (and accessible to at least one member of the public) as long as a single link remains unknown to the copyright holder. The Conspiracy’s internal reference database tracks the links that have been generated by the system, but duplicative links to infringing materials are neither disclosed to copyright holders, nor are they automatically deleted when a copyright holder either uses the Abuse Tool or makes a standard DMCA copyright infringement takedown request. During the course of the Conspiracy, the Mega Conspiracy has received many millions of requests (through the Abuse Tool and otherwise) to remove infringing copies of copyrighted works and yet the Conspiracy has, at best, only deleted the particular URL of which the copyright holder complained, and purposefully left the actual infringing copy of the copyrighted work on the Mega Conspiracy-controlled server and any other access links completely intact
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Griffin » Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:53 pm UTC

Admittedly, people use the site to share their own work - a system where anyone infringing means every gets the file deleted is probably not great either.

But it sounds like they really shot themselves in the foot there, yeah.
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Dauric » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:06 pm UTC

Zarq wrote:There is some stuff in the indictment that, if it's true, puts it in another perspective


... I suppose my question at this point is had anyone pointed out this flaw to the people at MegaUploads?

I've worked with a professionally developed document management software (cost tens of thousands for the first license, a few thousand for each subsequent license) that was being used by a local county government. The system was being used to host both public information (deeds, mortgages and such) as well as secured police records, the development company was very proud of their DOD-compliant security protocols, which it was compliant as long as you weren't using the web-access module.

The web-access module had public and secure login methods. The problem was that you could log in to the public access, then change to the secured repository by changing the "POST" value (information stored in the URL) "repID" to the repository ID that you wanted, and ID numbers were 0,1,2,3....

Yep, that's right, the programmers had included secure information about what information repository someone was accessing in the URL of the page itself and took absolutely no steps to obscure the information. Took me three months of phone calls and demonstrations to get the point through their skulls that their security had a hole large enough to pave a highway through.

Regarding MegaUploads, my point is: Is there any evidence to suggest that they knowingly and purposefully left the flaw in the system, or could it have been a failure of the programmers to fully understand their system?
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Volcano99 » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:20 pm UTC

Zarq wrote:There is some stuff in the indictment that, if it's true, puts it in another perspective

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


AFAIK dropbox does this too, and i'm sure many other webpages do this too. It is not a security flaw but a matter of saving server space.

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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Angua » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:22 pm UTC

Is there a wordfilter making stuff say conspiracy, or does it actually say that?

If yes to the wordfilter, what was the original?
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Xeio » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:28 pm UTC

KIM DOTCOM, MEGAUPLOAD LIMITED, VESTOR LIMITED, FINNBATATO, JULIUS BENCKO, SVEN ECHTERNACH, MATHIAS ORTMANN, ANDRUSNOMM, and BRAM VAN DER KOLK, the defendants, and others known and unknown to theGrand Jury, were members of the “Mega Conspiracy,” a worldwide criminal organization whosemembers engaged in criminal copyright infringement and money laundering on a massive scalewith estimated harm to copyright holders well in excess of $500,000,000 and reported income inexcess of $175,000,000
Per the indictment in the OP.

Volcano99 wrote:AFAIK dropbox does this too, and i'm sure many other webpages do this too. It is not a security flaw but a matter of saving server space.
The question likely becomes: Is this in compliance with the DMCA takedown request?

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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Dauric » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:28 pm UTC

Volcano99 wrote:
Zarq wrote:There is some stuff in the indictment that, if it's true, puts it in another perspective

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


AFAIK dropbox does this too, and i'm sure many other webpages do this too. It is not a security flaw but a matter of saving server space.


The problem is illustrated in the second paragraph though. When the abuse is reported MegaUploads deleted the link to the infringing material, not the infringing material itself. If there's three people with links to the pirated content and the copyright holder sees and reports the first link, but doesn't seethe second or third links, those other links continue to exist despite MegaUploads having been notified that the linked content (which is identical across all links) infringes on their copyright.
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Iulus Cofield » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:32 pm UTC

I have to side with megaupload, even if they designed it that way intentionally. They're charged with making it possible for at least one user to access copyrighted material..have they considered that it's possible for someone to ave legal access to the material? I have totally used services like megaupload to transfer large files of things I'd purchased. The burden should be on them to prove that each and every downloader had never purchased a copy of the allegedly pirated material, because fuck you for taking down a website without trial.

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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:36 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:Regarding MegaUploads, my point is: Is there any evidence to suggest that they knowingly and purposefully left the flaw in the system, or could it have been a failure of the programmers to fully understand their system?

From what I remember (it's been around three years since I've been to the site), they maintained a specific index of popular tv shows and movies on the front page... I suspect things like this start to tilt the courts against your favor.

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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Zarq » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:40 pm UTC

Bubbles McCoy wrote:
Dauric wrote:Regarding MegaUploads, my point is: Is there any evidence to suggest that they knowingly and purposefully left the flaw in the system, or could it have been a failure of the programmers to fully understand their system?

From what I remember (it's been around three years since I've been to the site), they maintained a specific index of popular tv shows and movies on the front page... I suspect things like this start to tilt the courts against your favor.


From what I remember, they didn't.

@Iulius: I'm pretty sure it said in their ToS that you were not supposed to upload copyrighted materials, even if you didn't intend to share it.
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Iulus Cofield » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:44 pm UTC

Bubbles McCoy wrote:
Dauric wrote:Regarding MegaUploads, my point is: Is there any evidence to suggest that they knowingly and purposefully left the flaw in the system, or could it have been a failure of the programmers to fully understand their system?

From what I remember (it's been around three years since I've been to the site), they maintained a specific index of popular tv shows and movies on the front page... I suspect things like this start to tilt the courts against your favor.


Where is your proof of this? How much were you paid by the MPAA, hereafter referred to as the Conspirators, to slander MegaUpload? Until a trial is conducted I motion that you be arrested and your account deleted until your guilt is, possibly, disproved.

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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:44 pm UTC

Zarq wrote:From what I remember, they didn't.

Yes you're right, I'm thinking of megavideo. (which might be an affiliate, not really sure)*


*EDIT - yes, it is

EDIT2 - It might have been a separate site that just used megavideo, I'm trying to dig through the internet archives to figure it out.

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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Adacore » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:48 pm UTC

Yeah, the BBC article is fairly explicit in stating that Megaupload never listed copyrighted material on the front page, but instead somehow deliberately made it easy to find the copyrighted material by using external sites which linked to the content. The implication being that the copyrighted material was their core business, but they distanced themselves from it enough to have deniability.

I don't think I've ever used Megaupload to download copyrighted stuff. I've used it to download plenty of other things, though.

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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby T-Form » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:49 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:
Volcano99 wrote:
Zarq wrote:There is some stuff in the indictment that, if it's true, puts it in another perspective

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


AFAIK dropbox does this too, and i'm sure many other webpages do this too. It is not a security flaw but a matter of saving server space.


The problem is illustrated in the second paragraph though. When the abuse is reported MegaUploads deleted the link to the infringing material, not the infringing material itself. If there's three people with links to the pirated content and the copyright holder sees and reports the first link, but doesn't seethe second or third links, those other links continue to exist despite MegaUploads having been notified that the linked content (which is identical across all links) infringes on their copyright.

It's true that the data would still be present on their systems, but the system described is basically a compression algorithm. Essentially, there's no technical need to write down the same thing twice. Functionally, their system demonstrates the same behaviour as one that keeps separate copies, and deletes each when the respective link is removed. Since with most content it is trivial to change the MD5 hash without substantially altering the file (e.g. by changing one pixel, one frame, adding an instant of silence, adding a tag within the file, reencoding, compressing into any number of formats, and so on), there is no guarantee that all copies of what is basically the same content could be removed by an automated process in any case, so this is basically picking on a particular technical implementation of a system rather than the system's actual behaviour.

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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:32 am UTC

My problem isn't so much that MegaUpload may not have been engaged in knowing and willful copyright infringement. It wouldn't surprise me too much if they were. My problem is that the US shut down their website without a trial.
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Game_boy » Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:15 am UTC

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news ... upload.ars

If true they were indeed fully aware of infringing content.
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Steax » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:12 am UTC

From my perspective, what they were doing was programmatically legitimate (for all intents and purposes, a lost link is a lost link - if nobody has theoretical access to the file, it practically doesn't exist), but the execution was faulty. Employees aware of the files should have taken direct action. There's also that critical mass where you realize your system is being used for piracy over anything else, and you need to do something about it (which they didn't).

Still, this scares me.
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby IcedT » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:16 am UTC

If this is what enforcement of anti-piracy law looks like, I think we may all be better off just putting up with the piracy.

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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby yoni45 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:30 am UTC

Hardly see the issue here -- if it was made clear to the relevant judge issuing the order that there is a strong case against MU knowingly engaging in extensively criminal behavior, then an injunction (or something similar) against their operation completely makes sense. I feel like this is standard practice for the circumstances.
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby pizzazz » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:40 am UTC

As I recall, it's possible to confiscate property under the classification of evidence before the trial (since, you know, the evidence is needed for the trial) if you have a warrant. So it's not inconceivable that they could justify taking the domain name that way (so that, for example, the website owners couldn't change it to destroy evidence). I'm not sure if this is stated as their rationale anywhere, though.

That being said, it does sound awfully drastic for there not having been a trial yet. However,

Ceron wrote:The Universal, RIAA, MPAA and Department of Justice websites are down currently, and Anonymous claims it's in retaliation for this. If someone would like to post a link to that story.


If so, that is a completely unacceptable, hypocritical, counterproductive, immature, and frankly disgusting response. In my opinion this makes them no better than the government.

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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Adacore » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:43 am UTC

The fact the indictment tries to put such a negative 'spin' on the company (by branding it the "Mega Conspiracy" when nothing has been heard at trial yet) makes me instantly think the US government is in the wrong here. If they used more measured language, I might've been more easily persuaded that they had a legitimate case and weren't merely trying to bluster their way to temporarily taking a filesharing website offline.

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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby yurell » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:43 am UTC

Ceron wrote:The Universal, RIAA, MPAA and Department of Justice websites are down currently, and Anonymous claims it's in retaliation for this. If someone would like to post a link to that story.


Source.

Spoiler:
The battle between US authorities and online powerhouses has taken another turn, with activist network Anonymous claiming responsibility for an attack which has apparently brought down the FBI and US Department of Justice websites.
Anonymous says it has launched a denial of service attack to cripple government and music industry websites, in a protest against an FBI crackdown on popular file-sharing website megaupload.com.
The FBI announced earlier it had cracked down on a group of online pirates in one of the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the US.
Seven people were charged with online piracy, with four of those arrested in New Zealand.
The Justice Department says the charges generated more than $US175 million in criminal proceeds and cost copyright owners $US500 million in lost revenue.
Anonymous has now apparently hit back, claiming via Twitter to have carried out its "largest attack ever", with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Justice Department, Universal Music, the Recording Industry Association of America, Warner Bros and the Utah Chiefs of Police Association failing to load.
"Get some popcorn... it's going to be a long lulzy [laughable] night," Anonymous, known as @YourAnonNews, posted on Twitter, as a number of major websites failed to load.
The Justice Department tweeted that its website was "experiencing a significant increase in activity, resulting in a degradation in service", and that it was treating the activity as malicious.
The move by Anonymous comes after Wikipedia shut down for 24 hours this week to protest against moves by the US government to bring forward its Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate version, the Protect IP Act (PIPA).
"Let's just say, for #SOPA supporters their #SOPAblackout is today," said @YourAnonNews.
Who's to blame?
The draft legislation has won the backing of Hollywood, the US music industry, America's national association of manufacturers and the chamber of commerce.
But it has come under fire from digital rights and free speech organisations for allegedly paving the way for US authorities to shut down websites accused of online piracy, including foreign sites, without due process and threatening the technical architecture of the internet.
The founders of Google, Twitter, Wikipedia, Yahoo! and other internet giants said in an open letter last month that the proposed legislation would give the US government censorship powers "similar to those used by China, Malaysia and Iran".
Google placed a black redaction block over the logo on its much-visited US home page to draw attention to the bills, while social news site Reddit and the popular Cheezburger humour sites planned blackouts.
Futurist and digital culture expert Mark Pesce says it is interesting that megaupload.com, which accounts for about 4 per cent of internet uploads, has been targeted by the authorities.
The file-sharing network is often used to pass on files from one person to another, rather than to upload and share with thousands of unknown people over the internet across the world.
Mr Pesce, who is an honorary associate in digital culture at the University of Sydney, says the question must be asked: did megaupload intend for its users to share with thousands online, or is the problem that the FBI did not take enough steps to prevent users from sharing their files?
"It goes to the heart of where the responsibility for defending against piracy lies," he told ABC Radio National's Breakfast program.
He says the FBI is holding megaupload.com responsible and this particular case highlights any enforcement priveliges that might be granted by legislation such as SOPA.
"[Megaupload] has created a site that anyone can use, share anything they like, and people are sharing the wrong things," he said.
"You can five years in jail for uploading a Michael Jackson video, which is a year longer than the doctor who killed him will get."
The White House expressed concern about the anti-online piracy bills in a statement over the weekend.
"While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cyber security risk or undermines the dynamic, innovative global internet," it said.
News Corp chief executive Rupert Murdoch has accused the "blogosphere" of "terrorising many senators and congressmen who previously committed" to support the US legislation.
Just recently, eight members of the US Congress withdrew their backing for the anti-piracy laws.
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Ghostbear » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:49 am UTC

pizzazz wrote:
Ceron wrote:The Universal, RIAA, MPAA and Department of Justice websites are down currently, and Anonymous claims it's in retaliation for this. If someone would like to post a link to that story.

If so, that is a completely unacceptable, hypocritical, counterproductive, immature, and frankly disgusting response. In my opinion this makes them no better than the government.

The RIAA, MPAA and DoJ don't really exist through their web sites- their admins will fix everything up in short enough order, with minimal damage done to them. It amounts to a very loud "we're angry!" message, but not much else. I wouldn't say it's worth much condemnation or adoration. All the same- it helps to have people showing their displeasure so openly, even if they could probably find more productive means to do so.

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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby yoni45 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:02 am UTC

pizzazz wrote:As I recall, it's possible to confiscate property under the classification of evidence before the trial (since, you know, the evidence is needed for the trial) if you have a warrant. So it's not inconceivable that they could justify taking the domain name that way (so that, for example, the website owners couldn't change it to destroy evidence). I'm not sure if this is stated as their rationale anywhere, though.

That being said, it does sound awfully drastic for there not having been a trial yet....


I'm quite sure it's not just for evidence, but also to stop the offending party from causing further damage in the interim.
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby pizzazz » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:14 am UTC

Ghostbear wrote:
pizzazz wrote:
Ceron wrote:The Universal, RIAA, MPAA and Department of Justice websites are down currently, and Anonymous claims it's in retaliation for this. If someone would like to post a link to that story.

If so, that is a completely unacceptable, hypocritical, counterproductive, immature, and frankly disgusting response. In my opinion this makes them no better than the government.

The RIAA, MPAA and DoJ don't really exist through their web sites- their admins will fix everything up in short enough order, with minimal damage done to them.

"But your honor, my gunshots missed, so since no harm was done, what I did wasn't wrong." Oh wait, no, that's a fucking terrible excuse.
Or maybe, "but your honor, these advertisements don't really constitute the body of their business, so they're fine targets for vandalism." Except that, you know, that's equally idiotic.
It amounts to a very loud "we're angry!" message, but not much else. I wouldn't say it's worth much condemnation or adoration. All the same- it helps to have people showing their displeasure so openly, even if they could probably find more productive means to do so.

There are plenty of legal ways to voice one's displeasure. Anonymous is just full of short-sighted, selfish pricks.

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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:21 am UTC

yoni45 wrote:Hardly see the issue here -- if it was made clear to the relevant judge issuing the order that there is a strong case against MU knowingly engaging in extensively criminal behavior, then an injunction (or something similar) against their operation completely makes sense. I feel like this is standard practice for the circumstances.


The problem is that this isn't just confiscating property, it's removing their primary avenue for speech. Blocking a website is far more akin to censorship than a seizure of property.
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby yurell » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:23 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:The problem is that this isn't just confiscating property, it's removing their primary avenue for speech. Blocking a website is far more akin to censorship than a seizure of property.


Not to mention firing them from their job, since it cuts off their revenue stream.
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Ghostbear » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:24 am UTC

pizzazz wrote:"But your honor, my gunshots missed, so since no harm was done, what I did wasn't wrong." Oh wait, no, that's a fucking terrible excuse.
Or maybe, "but your honor, these advertisements don't really constitute the body of their business, so they're fine targets for vandalism." Except that, you know, that's equally idiotic.

It's a good thing that I wasn't arguing that then, isn't it? I was merely pointing out that the harm is minimal. Not that it's legal of them. The amount of harm done is something I think should be considered when determining how much to condemn a groups actions.

pizzazz wrote:There are plenty of legal ways to voice one's displeasure. Anonymous is just full of short-sighted, selfish pricks.

That's correct on both accounts. I would rather they make these statements in an illegal and relatively harmless (though effective at getting attention) manner than not make them at all though. I would definitely prefer they did so in a way that's more positive and effective, but calling it "completely unacceptable, hypocritical, counterproductive, immature, and frankly disgusting" is taking the criticism too far.

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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby pizzazz » Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:50 am UTC

Ghostbear wrote:
pizzazz wrote:"But your honor, my gunshots missed, so since no harm was done, what I did wasn't wrong." Oh wait, no, that's a fucking terrible excuse.
Or maybe, "but your honor, these advertisements don't really constitute the body of their business, so they're fine targets for vandalism." Except that, you know, that's equally idiotic.

It's a good thing that I wasn't arguing that then, isn't it? I was merely pointing out that the harm is minimal. Not that it's legal of them. The amount of harm done is something I think should be considered when determining how much to condemn a groups actions.

I'm sure the government told themselves that shutting down this website would have minimal harm as well.

See the problem? Pretty much any way you can defend Anonymous's behavior, you can defend the government here as well.

pizzazz wrote:There are plenty of legal ways to voice one's displeasure. Anonymous is just full of short-sighted, selfish pricks.

That's correct on both accounts. I would rather they make these statements in an illegal and relatively harmless (though effective at getting attention) manner than not make them at all though. I would definitely prefer they did so in a way that's more positive and effective, but calling it "completely unacceptable, hypocritical, counterproductive, immature, and frankly disgusting" is taking the criticism too far.

1. Completely unacceptable--just my opinion, I guess, but as I said any defense one could offer is also defense of the government, and so if one thinks the government's behavior is unacceptable, one should think similarly of Anonymous.
2. Hypocritical and counterproductive--see 1 and above.
3. Immature--obviously
4. Frankly disgusting--perhaps taking it a little too far, but this is Anonymous's standard MO. They try to criminally intimidate the government and/or other bodies into doing what they want, but the most common denizens of the internet agree with them on lots of stuff so you never see that pointed out.

Oh, and I want to know what America you think exists where vandalism is the only way of getting attention.

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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby Metaphysician » Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:10 am UTC

pizzazz wrote:Oh, and I want to know what America you think exists where vandalism is the only way of getting attention.


The one in which various advocacy firms such as the EFF have been fighting against this kind of ham fisted legislation and enforcement for over a decade and never got any press.

Anonymous got press pretty much as soon as they started with their tactics so I'd say on a purely attention getting level, they're winning. Whether or not it's the good kind of attention is another matter entirely. I do understand the mindset of breaking the rules to stick it those that abuse their power and, simultaneously make the rules. I'm not defending anonymous, I think they're kind of childish most of the time and definitely over hyped, but at the very least they're making it very difficult to ignore their side of the conversation.
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby yoni45 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 4:50 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:The problem is that this isn't just confiscating property, it's removing their primary avenue for speech. Blocking a website is far more akin to censorship than a seizure of property.


yurell wrote:Not to mention firing them from their job, since it cuts off their revenue stream.


Two things that aren't particularly relevant to whether an injunction is justified.
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:32 am UTC

Adacore wrote:The fact the indictment tries to put such a negative 'spin' on the company (by branding it the "Mega Conspiracy" when nothing has been heard at trial yet) makes me instantly think the US government is in the wrong here. If they used more measured language, I might've been more easily persuaded that they had a legitimate case and weren't merely trying to bluster their way to temporarily taking a filesharing website offline.


I agree. Megaupload has tangoed with Hollywood recently because of their (crappy, but legal) Megaupload song video. Which was taken down by Universal Group for "Copyright Infringement". Last I heard of Megaupload, they were counter-suing Universal for the illegitimate lawsuits.

Although, I'm pretty sure that Megaupload is one of the filesharing sites of choice for pirates. So I wouldn't be surprised if they actually have evidence against them. Just based on the news recently, I wouldn't be suprised either if the MPAA or FBI were abusing their power either.
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Re: Major website shutdown by US govt without trial

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Jan 20, 2012 5:56 am UTC

yoni45 wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:The problem is that this isn't just confiscating property, it's removing their primary avenue for speech. Blocking a website is far more akin to censorship than a seizure of property.


yurell wrote:Not to mention firing them from their job, since it cuts off their revenue stream.


Two things that aren't particularly relevant to whether an injunction is justified.


It's not justified if it involves censorship without a trial, then it is most certainly not justified. If it's really okay to do this, I don't see that there's any legal barrier to arbitrarily taking down any website.

Metaphysician wrote:Anonymous got press pretty much as soon as they started with their tactics so I'd say on a purely attention getting level, they're winning.

Yeah, but unless this is the only tactic that works (and I really don't think it is), then I'm still going to call out anonymous on being totally counterproductive and wrong.
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