Yesterday an international police operation resulted in the shutdown of MegaUpload and the arrest of at least four MegaUpload employees in Auckland, New Zealand. This action resulted in a large scale DDoS attack by the group known as Anonymous on web sites including the MPAA, RIAA, DoJ and even the White House. While I don’t have time today for a full scale analysis here are some salient point:
1. The fact that this shutdown and the arrests were possible shows quite clearly that existing laws already provide a meaningful ability to deal with large scale copyright infringement even when sites operate from abroad. That’s all the more reason why we don’t need additional new legislation.
2. According to ArsTechnica, MegaUpload was brazenly flaunting the DMCA by only disabling links to infringing content instead of actually removing it or blocking access to it entirely. That is a violation of both the letter and the spirit of that law and should not be allowed to continue.
3. As with any digital locker site, there were also legitimate uses of MegaUpload. Many people who had work or personal files on MegaUpload have taken to Twitter to complain about a lack of access to their files. This operation and others before it (such as the server seizure that brought down Curbed, Pinboard and Instapaper) raise the question how to minimize “collateral damage.”
4. The retaliation by Anonymous has the potential to meaningfully escalate the push for government intervention in the Internet for cybersecurity reasons. This comes at a bad time as we are trying hard to keep the government out of controlling the Internet.
What a week this has been! Apple too dropped another interesting copyright bomb yesterday by claiming sales rights to any books created with iBooks Author. It seems like we are at the beginning of what Cory Doctorow has characterized as the “Coming War on General Purpose Computing.” We live in interesting times indeed.