On the 18th of January 2012 the world banded together in an effort to show their opposition to two acts being proposed in the United States congress. These acts, as you may already know, are the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act and aim at culling the rampant online piracy that is costing the music industry millions.
In the protest on the 18th several of the largest websites in the world blacked out to show their opposition to SOPA and PIPA and also encourage others (especially Americans) to let congress and their representatives know that they disapprove of these acts. Google, Reddit, Wikipedia, Flickr as well as others did a blackout and the results were astounding. Thousands of people flooded the Whitehouse and their representatives with phone calls, emails, and more protesting. After all was said and done, those opposing SOPA and PIPA thought that they had won….but they were wrong.
The United States had a pocket ace up their sleeve and the overwhelming opposition to SOPA and PIPA forced them to show their hand early. Their display of power took the form of a seizure of one of the largest file sharing sites on the Internet: Megaupload.
Megaupload is….was a celebrity endorsed website that enabled users to upload and download files that were simply too big for email transfers. This site was created by Kim Schmitz (known as Kim Dotcom) and became an internationally loved site for everyone (except the Music Industry).
One day after the global protest against SOPA and PIPA the United States government flexed their muscles and not only took down Megaupload, but had Kim Schmitz and three others arrested on several charges dealing with copyright infringement. Despite being endorsed by several well-known actors and singers, those only arrested were Kim and the other higher executives – it is still unknown if more will be charged as well.
Megaupload received tens of thousands of visitors each day and the seizure of this site marks the largest one yet by the United States Justice Department. To justify their takedown of Megaupload the United States Justice Department claimed that Megaupload alone was solely responsible for “more than half a billion dollars’ worth of damage to copyright owners”.
The United States clearly sidestepped all aspects of the law and went out of their way to take down Megaupload. Executing twenty different warrants in over eight countries the United States FBI seized more than $50 million in assets as well as taking down Megaupload’s servers. Megaupload didn’t even get the chance to be tried in court before the fatal damage was already done.
The United States government is completely overstepping their boundaries and becoming a big brother government. What was the reason behind the SOPA and PIPA acts if the United States government had the power all along to take down the sites? Where those acts just a failed attempt to justify their actions for a later period of time?
Lastly, why did the United States wait to take down Megaupload? They obviously had the warrants and “approved legal justifications” to take down Megaupload prior to the incident however they waited till right after the blackout before showing their true colors.