SOPA was a stupid bill crafted by technically ignorant but deep-pocketed lobbyists for the entertainment industry. A number of high-profile websites got together, inconvenienced the general public for a day by taking down Wikipedia and reddit, and managed to get a number of Senators–mostly Republicans–to abandon their support for the bill.
Good for them.
However, the entertainment industry is not like other massive global industries. It is essentially the cultural arm of the United States. The MPAA is traditionally run by ex-government insiders, its most powerful CEO during the heyday of the film industry was Jack Valenti, Lyndon Johnsons former chief of staff. In March of last year, the MPAA wooed former senator Chris Dodd to take the job that TheHill.com calls “the most prestigious job on K Street.” It managed to do that despite Dodd assuring the public that after he left the Seante he would do “no lobbying, no lobbying.”
And yet, on the MPAA’s official blog two days ago, Dodd, posting as “Senator Chris Dodd,” called the blackout by Wikipedia and Reddit “an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information and use their services. It is also an abuse of power.”
Wikipedia taking itself offline for a day constitutes “an abuse of power,” but for a Senator to take the top lobbying job in Washington is…what? A patriotic duty apparently.
In any case, today, in apparent retaliation for the internet kids getting a bit too uppity, the US government seized the domain of the largest file hosting site on the internet, Megaupload.com, along with 50 of its other domain names. It also arrested the officers and executives of the company, and indicted them on counts of conspiracy, racketeering, and copyright infringement.
This is the part where I tell you that Megaupload actually operates outside of US jurisdiction. It is run out of Hong Kong, and its officers were arrested there and in New Zealand. In addition, Megaupload historically has acted quickly on copyright and other takedown notices from copyright holders, in much the same way that YouTube does. YouTube has untold thousands of videos that infringe copyrights, and like Megavideo, they take them down whenever those videos are identified to them. A
But Youtube is still here, and Megaupload isn’t. Why?
In part two, I’ll tell you.
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