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Yesterday thousands of major websites across the internet either shut down completely or posted notices in protest of the United States government’s plan to pass two pieces of legislation called SOPA and PIPA (for short). Cinema Blend, like most websites, participated in that protest with a message asking our users to research the issue and contact their local congressman to share their thoughts on the bills, bills which most experts believe will permanently shut down large portions of the internet. The MPAA responded to that protest by lashing out.
We showed you this message from the Motion Picture Association of America, one of the primary backers behind SOPA and PIPA, in which they attacked anyone who disagreed with their stance and dismissed the massive outcry coming from nearly everyone who actually uses the internet as a “prank” and called us all puppets. But the protests went on anyway and there’s even some indication that they may be working. Dozens of congressman have already withdrawn their support for SOPA and PIPA. So of course the opposition, of which the MPAA is a part, has responded by showing everyone that they don’t need Congress to get what they want.
What the MPAA and the other backers of bills like SOPA and PIPA want is nothing less than total control. They exerted that control this morning when Megaupload, the world’s largest file sharing service, was shut down by the United States government. The company’s founder and several of its top executives have been charged with violating existing piracy laws by Federal prosecutors according to the AP
Megaupload is not a service designed to be used for pirating copyrighted content. It’s actually a legitimate company which allows users to share files too large to send over email. I’ve used it several times myself to share large, legal files with people in a quick and easy way. Services like Megaupload are a big part of what keeps the internet running.
Yet one of the things about running a service like Megaupload is that you have no control over how people use it. The entire idea behind Megaupload is that you get an account, and then you upload anything you want with that account. Some people are bound to use that account to distribute copyrighted material, but there’s really not anything Megaupload can do about it. That would be like holding the post office responsible for the content of every single package sent through their mail boxes. That’s ridiculous. If I send a bag of drugs to Colorado using First Class postage and then get caught, I go to jail. No one charges in and arrests everyone who works at the post office. Yet somehow that’s exactly what’s happening to Megaupload.
Personally I find it hard to believe that the timing of this is a coincidence. That this particular attack on internet freedom came only a day after widespread protests over new legislation which would make internet censorship even easier, makes the whole thing seem like a message. Combine Megaupload’s situation with these rumors of funding cuts from Hollywood backers miffed that the President isn’t backing their play for SOPA power and that message is clear: It doesn’t matter whether Congress passes SOPA or not. They’re taking control anyway.