Megaupload’s Files Could Be Wiped Out Thursday
File sharing website Megaupload, recently shut down by the US government, could lose all its user data if its assets aren’t unfrozen.
Not only that, the company can’t access the files because it can’t pay for its servers and that means users themselves can’t recover their own data. Data which includes more than just Hollywood movies and TV shows.
The prospect of all those files being lost can’t be measured in a dollar value but the impact could be huge. Other digital locker services have been making big change-ups in light of what happened to Megaupload, and it’s clear many file sharing website users and companies are on the run even if their business model is legitimate.
The shut down of Megaupload comes at a bad time, with the fight(s) against SOPA/PIPA/Bill C-11/ACTA underway around the world. But they do have something in common. Just as those pieces of legislation will have the unintended consequence of stifling creativity and content on the web, so will this ruling against Megaupload. Looking at this breakdown of the company’s indictment, one phrase stands out to me…
…they are willfully infringing copyrights themselves on these systems; have actual knowledge that the materials on their systems are infringing (or alternatively know facts or circumstances that would make infringing material apparent); receive a financial benefit directly attributable to copyright-infringing activity where the provider can control that activity; and have not removed, or disabled access to, known copyright infringing material from servers they control.
So what makes them guilty and Youtube innocent, for example, is that Megaupload was a lot lazier with its take down notices (and the article later notes those facing charges in this whole situation may have uploaded infringing content themselves). I’m not condoning or endorsing everything Megaupload did. The indictment makes some pretty serious claims and has some emails that certainly look pretty bad. What’s important to keep in mind is there’s not much separating sites like Megaupload from other sites like Youtube, and (as I stated on CFRA’s Lunch Bunch a little while back) Megaupload was likely targeted because the US government figured they could get away with it as opposed to going after someone like Google.
The final message I want to leave you with is this: cloud storage and cloud computing is great. Having online storage or digital licenses where you can keep things you’ve bought and paid for is an excellent idea and sometimes its your only option. That being said, memory prices (ie, hard drives, DVDs, etc) have never been cheaper and there’s little excuse for not having a physical copy wherever possible. I’ll leave you with a quote from a friend of mine who spent a lot of his career fixing up computers (the clean version of that quote anyways)…
Back up your stuff!