Following the massive online protests last Wednesday, January 18th, both the US House and Senate have withdrawn their versions of anti-piracy bills from reaching the floor for a vote. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), a sponsor of the House bill, said “I have heard from the critics, and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy,” and “It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products.” While the goal of stopping internet piracy from siphoning revenue from legitimate content generators is undeniably a good one, it is the sweeping powers these bills would have given the Department of Justice in regards to enforcement that angered many.
The government’s takedown of Megaupload the day following the internet protests has provided ammunition to both sides of the argument. Obviously, the DOJ has the tools already in hand to take action against what it sees as a piracy website. So, why would further legislation be needed? This action took place after a fairly long investigation, and didn’t need to have a judge issue a restraint against the site prior to all the facts being collected(which SOPA/PIPA would allow to happen much more easily). On the other hand, Megaupload maintains they vigorously remove copyrighted material from their site, but it is so large it’s impossible to prevent any such content from ever appearing, with so many users and traffic. And in an apparent response to this action, the site FileSonic has disabled file-sharing on it’s site. You can upload material for yourself to download, but no more sharing is permitted. It will be interesting to see if this policy spreads to other file-sharing sites, or if Filesharte ends up becoming a marginalized player in the storage arena. The hacker group Anonymous has begun waging cyberattacks against numerous sites in retaliation for Megaupload’s shutdown, with the latest being CBS and Warner Music group’s sites. This comes after a video from the group warning that if Megaupload is not restored in three days time(which is now today).