Megaupload’s still immersed in hot water, but there are signs the legal temperature could be cooling… slightly. Don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet though, as a significant portion of that confiscated cache of cloud-stored files remains somewhat indefinitely under lock and key. A minor reprieve may be on the way, however, owing to a much more “sympathetic” MPAA which has asked the court to consider releasing non-illegally obtained content to previous users. And lest your evil eye be trained too heavily upon the Hollywood group behind the shutdown, the association’s made it quite clear that, under the site’s TOS, users were never guaranteed continued access to uploaded content anyway.
The change of heart comes in response to a motion filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, on behalf of a member of the U.S. military, petitioning the return of personal, non-IP infringing files. According to the now-defunct site’s founder Kim Dotcom, that group of “legitimate” users comprised nearly 16,000 accounts utilized primarily to share photos and video with far away family and friends. Of course, should this retrieval request be granted, a requisite procedure will need to be put in place to filter out copyrighted media — a system that’s sure to pose countless headaches for those involved. Nothing’s yet been decided so, for now, the fate of your lost files rests firmly in the court’s hands. Such are the perils of the cloud.
The Feds put the smackdown on Megauploadand its whole executive team last week, charging the them with criminal charges for copyright infringement and racketeering in addition to conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and money laundering. As a result, it appears that several other cloud locker companies have curbed their sharing ways to avoid similar DOJ entanglements. FileSonic and Fileserve have eliminated file sharing from their service menus, and Uploaded.to is no longer available to those of us in the US. Naturally, none of these companies have said that Megaupload’s legal problems are the reason for the changes, but the timing suggests it’s more than mere coincidence. Disagree? Feel free to speculate about the possibilities in the comments below, and let us know if any other online storage services have made similar moves while you’re at it.
Update: As The Verge reports, the indictment itself doesn’t mince any words, calling Megaupload an “international organized criminal enterprise allegedly responsible for massive worldwide online piracy,” and alleging that Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom et al generated more than $175 million in “criminal proceeds.” Those charges also come with some potentially hefty prison sentences, including a maximum 20 years for conspiracy to commit racketeering, five years for copyright infringement, 20 years for money laundering, and five years for each of the substantive charges of criminal copyright infringement.
Pirate Bay founders launch ‘copyright respecting’ BayFiles sharing site, still dream of a life on Sealan
It ain’t often that the hated few have a genuine change of heart, but it sounds as if the folks who founded The Pirate Bay are tired of sailing the same seas. After years of turning a blind eye to content mavens across the globe, Fredrik Neij and co. have launched what appears to be a legitimate file-sharing site — one that’s “respectful of copyrights.” For all intents and purposes, BayFiles is yet another alternative to RapidShare and MegaUpload, acting as a cyberlocker that allows anyone with a web browser to upload files to share via a unique URL. Unregistered users will be limited to a 250MB upload, while standard members get bumped to 500MB and paying ‘Premium’ members can share up to 5GB per link. According to the terms of service, content that “violates third-party copyrights” cannot be uploaded, and folks who routinely ignore said words could face account termination. Head on down to the source to get started, and if you fall in love, you can pony up €5 a month, €25 for six months, or €45 for 12 months to claim your membership.
It’s no secret that negotiations between Google and the recording industry haven’t been going very well. Perhaps even less surprising are the reasons behind the stalemate. According to the Hollywood Reporter, discussions between the two parties have sputtered thanks to three usual suspects: money, file-sharing and concerns over competition. During licensing talks, Google agreed to pay upfront advances to all participating labels, but the major players wanted bigger guarantees. That prompted the indie contingent to ask for similar money, unleashing a snowball of stakes-raising. The two sides also failed to agree on how to handle pirated music, with the industry demanding that Google not only ban illegally downloaded files from users’ lockers, but that it erase P2P sites from its search results, as well.
Hovering above all this bargaining was a thick cloud of destabilizing uncertainty. Some execs welcomed the idea of a new iTunes competitor, while others were less enthusiastic, amid concerns that Google Music wouldn’t deliver new revenue streams. The ultimate question, of course, is how negotiations will proceed now that Google’s already launched the service. The labels were warned that Tuesday’s I/O announcement was coming, but the search giant didn’t do much to mend fences when it effectively blamed the record execs for holding up negotiations. It’s hard to say whether Google’s bravado will help or hurt matters, but according to a source from a major label, “People are pissed.”