Much was made about the recent takedown of file sharing service MegaUpload. This was not only because both PIPA and SOPA were hot topics at the time, but because of the controversy that ensued following the shutdown. Shortly after the U.S. Department of Justice seized the company’s digital assets, the sites of various government agencies and entertainment firms were knocked off line by a group of hacktivists known as Anonymous. Perhaps the most interesting part about all this is how the MegaUpload takedown is now looking futile in the war against piracy.
File Download Frenzy Continues
File Sharing in the Post Mega Upload Era, a study conducted by Michigan-based startup DeepField Networks, shows that the DOJ’s takedown of MegaUpload has had very little effect on piracy as a whole. At one time, megaupload.com was the largest file sharing site in the world, accounting for as much as 40% of all related global internet traffic. In fact, megavideo.com, one of the domains connected to the main site, accounted for 34% of worldwide file sharing traffic on January 18, which is the day before the DOJ effectively closed down the entire operation. Following the shutdown, traffic for the global internet declined by 2% to 3%, which is an indication of just how many people moved files through the MegaUpload network.
MegaUpload may have been the biggest player in the file sharing game, but it certainly is not the only dance in town. It didn’t take file hungry internet users long to figure out they would have to look elsewhere to get their jollies and that’s exactly what they did – quickly. All it took was a day for file swappers to regroup and find a new place to get what they needed. The service most of them decided on was Putlocker. With Filesonic, formerly the number two service after MegaUpload, willingly closing its doors to the public, Putlocker is the new giant in the file sharing space, according to DeepField’s data.
You’re not really shocked to know that the end of MegaUpload has barely made a dent in the armor that is file sharing, are you? After all, we’ve seen something like this before. The original Napster was shut down in 2001 for its unauthorized sharing of copyrighted music. Kazaa came along and tried to fill the void left behind by Napster, but similar to Napster, was forced to turn legal with a subscription-based music download service due to copyright-related lawsuits. Then there was LimeWire, which actually had a lengthy run before legal woes resulted in the company agreeing to pay the record industry an out of court settlement of $105 million.
Small Measure of Victory
Lawmakers have a long ways to go if they truly want to stamp out online piracy, but like the war on drugs, this may be another fight that simply can’t be won. While the DOJ has its sights set on the file-sharing sector, the torrent game, a major source of illegal downloads, continues to thrive. Swedish-based company The Pirate Bay, one of the government’s biggest targets, just may really be the world’s most resilient BitTorrent site, as it has so long claimed. Its offices have been raided, employees incarcerated, and yet the service just keeps on pushing.
Pulling the plug on MegaUpload may not have made a huge difference, and stopping elusive foreign companies like The Pirate Bay may seem impossible, but lawmakers are at least seeing some results. With the owners of MegaUpload Unlimited already in hot water and The Pirate Bay in the federal spotlight, long-time torrent download site BTJunkie.org decided to voluntarily shut down. It is a small measure of victory lawmakers probably view as progress.