Feb 10, 2012

Federal takedown of MegaUpload didn't slow pirate downloads, just moved them offshore

The recent federal takedown of notorious file-sharing service Megaupload was initially seen as a huge victory for owners of copyrighted music and movies, but new research shows this may not be the case.

Federal prosecutors successfully shuttered the service last month and arrested seven men associated with Megaupload including site founder Kim Dotcom, who is said to have earned $42 million from the site in 2010 alone.

Megaupload.com allowed users to upload and share content without any measures in place to ensure files being hosted on the site’s servers were not protected by copyright. The company claims that it responded to copyright complaints as they were received. According to court documents made available on Thursday, Megaupload.com was at one point the 13th most trafficked website in the world.

The Internet lost between 2 percent and 3 percent of its total volume of traffic in just one hour following the Jan. 19 raid that shut down the world's largest file-sharing service, according to a new report from DeepField Networks. Before its staff were arrested and servers shut down, MegaUpload files accounted for between 30 percent and 40 percent of all the file downloads on the Internet.

Deepfield Networks analyzed the change by looking at the six companies that provide the storage facilities for 80 percent of all the file-sharing traffic on the 'net. (There are hundreds of search-and-index sites for both legal and illegal downloads, but most of the files themselves are housed on disk in data centers run by six major co-location and hosting service companies.

With the shift toward Putlocker, NovaMov and MediaFire, far more of those files are being shared across greater distances than before, because the big  three download providers store their data primarily in Europe.

”Instead of terabytes of North America Megaupload traffic going to U.S. servers, most file sharing traffic now comes from Europe over far more expensive transatlantic links,” DeepField noted.

That doesn't really accomplish the purpose for which SOPA and PIPA were written. At best it may eventually cost heavy consumers of illegal content a bit more in access fees.

Seems like a small impact for such a big project.

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