Despite overwhelming, worldwide public opposition to the current trends in ever-tightening and ever more intrusive copyright laws and copyright enforcement, the Department of Justice has seized and shutdown Megaupload, a popular online service that is not based in the United States. To make matters worse, New Zealand authorities have arrested 4 members of the Megaupload team due to pressure from the US Department of Justice and a sealed indictment handed down by a Virginia grand jury. None of the accused individuals are residents of the United States.
Megaupload is a Hong Kong based web service with servers in numerous countries, allowing users to store and share their files online in a file storage locker. Like other cloud computing sites, Megaupload provides an easy way for users to back up and/or transfer files through a remote server.
Prior to the seizure, the American entertainment industry has accused Megaupload of being a “pirate” site, based on users ability to transit files to one another through the Megaupload service. A number of major recording artists including Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, and Alicia Keys recorded a video performing the “The Mega Song”, in which they sang about their support for Megaupload based on its ease of use and its potential to aid in the distribution of music to the public. The Mega Song was uploaded to YouTube with the artists’ consent. Universal Music Group (UMG), the largest record company in the world, demanded repeatedly that YouTube remove the video. The justification for such removal is unclear. When UMG refused to reverse its demands or give an apology, Megaupload filed suit against UMG in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.
Before the case was heard, it appears that pressure from the entertainment industry resulted in Megaupload being seized and shutdown by federal authorities.
In addition to being a violation of national sovereignty, and of the rights of the arrested individuals, the seizures are a shocking revelation of the collusion between a private industry and our government, as well as the extent to which our government will go to serve an industry with so much control over the flow of information and culture to the public. No less than five (5) former RIAA attorneys have been appointed to the Justice Department.
The timing of the seizure was particularly alarming as it occurred immediately after the entire nation was teeming with rage and opposition against the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act pending in Congress. The shutdown of Megaupload is a slap in the face to the public, telling us that the desires of special interests trump the desires of the people.
The Massachusetts Pirate Party fully and absolutely condemns the actions of the FBI, ICE and the Department of Justice against Megaupload, and their continued abuses of power in their corporate-backed “War on Piracy”. These wrongful actions by the Department of Justice, as well as the upcoming vote on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) have demonstrated the need for a counter to the US government’s attack on civil liberties and the immense power and influence of the Hollywood corporate lobby. The Massachusetts Pirate Party is proud to stand alongside other Pirate parties and liberty activists here and abroad to demand these abuses come to an immediate end.