Wednesday, January 25, 2012

MegaProtectionism For The Record Companies?

Here's an interesting take on the recent government takedown of Megaupload, which had been a large-scale digital "locker" site where people could upload large files for public access. Megaupload had been ostensibly targeted because of pirated movie and music files, but Matt Burns at TechCrunch voices suspicious that the company may have been taken down because it was preparing to launch a service that would have competed directly and legally with the record companies:
Megabox was just in beta at that time with listed partners of 7digital, Gracenote, Rovi, and Amazon. Megaupload was in a heated marketing battle with the RIAA and MPAA who featured Kim Dotcom in an anti-piracy movie (5:10 mark). The site had just sued Universal Music Group for wrongly blocking Megaupload’s recent star-studded YouTube campaign. Things were getting vicious in December but the quiet launch of Megabox might have been the straw that broke the millionaire’s back.

Dotcom described Megabox as Megaupload’s iTunes competitor, which would even eventually offer free premium movies via Megamovie, a site set to launch in 2012. This service would take Megaupload from being just a digital locker site to a full-fledged player in the digital content game.

The kicker was Megabox would cater to unsigned artists and allow anyone to sell their creations while allowing the artist to retain 90% of the earnings. Or, artists could even giveaway their songs and would be paid through a service called Megakey. “Yes that’s right, we will pay artists even for free downloads. The Megakey business model has been tested with over a million users and it works,” Kim Dotcom told TorrentFreak in December. Megabox was planning on bypassing the labels, RIAA, and the entire music establishment.
Copyright protection is a legitimate problem in the digital age, but if the speculation here turns out to be accurate, the Justice Department has been used to facilitate the crib death of a legal competitor to the RIAA. If that pans out, we've got a much bigger problem than piracy to worry about.


  1. New title: "None are call it fascism."

    1. Ode to Selective Enforcement (Or "Law as a hammer to beat your foes")

      First they came for the the bar owners who played the radio-
      I said nothing 'cause I don't own a bar.
      Then they came for Gibson guitar-
      I said nothing 'cause I don't play a Gibson.
      Then they came for the file sharers-
      I said nothing 'cause I rip from CD.
      I think in the next line they're comin' for me!)

      We are living in a vibrant age of distributed creativity, and clearly it must be stopped!

  2. Obama to his Hollywood money: never mind what I'm saying publicly about SOPA and PIPA, we've got your back.

    Just like his "drill, baby, drill, but we won't let you get it to market or burn it" doubletalk for the envirolawyer lobby.

    1. --- "Obama to his Hollywood money: never mind what I'm saying publicly about SOPA and PIPA, we've got your back." ---

      Exactly. Every time Obama is pressured to seemingly abandon some interest which has been a big help to him either financially or directly in his electioneering, he finds a way, very quickly, to deliver to them some huge prize that usually more than makes up for what he denied them.

      Or, depending upon the situation, he simply has one of his administrative agencies find a way to hand them what he couldn't give to them directly, while he looks away and smiles and tells his loving press "hey, they're independent!"

      Most in-your-face-dishonest president we've ever had. Makes Nixon seem sincere. Makes Clinton seem oafish.

  3. The key here is the corrupt application of criminal law to a dispute which is the proper domain of civil law.

    Kim Dotcom's downfall is that he couldn't get big enough fast enough to buy him some politicians.

    Lazarus Long's classic quote: Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded -- here and there, now and then -- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck."

  4. Not buying it. First, it seems Megaupload really was in the piracy biz, although I'm willing to be convinced they were not. Second, I don't think the US could move fast enough to develop the legal case to convince all those other countries, get permission, and run the bust on orders from Hollywood in two months or so. Again, I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, but speculation isn't evidence.

  5. I think your interpretation of the motive is correct. However, Megaupload left themselves open to this by being "In the piracy biz"

    I don't see anything wrong here.

  6. The Feds used the ACTA treaty, in concert with fellow signatory NZ, to take down Megaupload.

    ACTA has not been ratified by the US Congress -- it was signed by Pres. Obama, and ratified via executive order.

    So, still see no problem there? A secret treaty, with secret language, secretly enacted by demonstrably unlawful means...

    1. Good Lord! It appears that you are exactly correct. Megaupload was taken down via ACTA, but ACTA was never ratified by Congress because the Obama Administration didn't think it necessary for the treaty to be ratified.

      Lawlessness is one of the signs of tyranny....

    2. Is that listed in the article? Any link you can provide proving this will help.

    3. Here a link on ACTA becoming law without Congress by Executive Order

      BTW: Today the EU just bought in to ACTA.

  7. We have a much bigger problem? This is not actually news to many of us. The old saying is, ballots, not bullets. But that assumes the integrity of the ballot box, and I'm not so sure of that.

  8. I've bought several cds directly from artists. They'll never be hits, but most are from former stars past their prime, using their own studios. Roger McQuin, Gerry Rafferty (before his death), Gaye Delorme (also died last year), and David Gilmour. They cost more, but weren't available through RIAA companies. Now, with downloading directly, owning physical media and paying multiple times for the same content on different media should be past. I hope these creeps go broke. I'd much rather pay directly to the artists.