The End of Online File Sharing
This sucks. On January 19, 2012, Megaupload (and all of its domains and services) was shut down by the United States Department of Justice.
What was MegaUpload?
MegaUpload was essentially a cloud based file sharing website. Instead of using P2P, or torrents, users could download files directly from MegaUpload servers. In addition, Megavideo streamed video files that were uploaded and shared on MegaUpload. As a result of this functionality, a user who is looking for a specific movie can either stream it in a flash based player, or download the source file. This is opposed to Netflix where downloading the file is not possible.
MegaBox and MegaLive were also great tools that I was starting to get interested in, however, they too have been shut down. Apparently there was a MegaPorn, but I was not aware of this unfortunately. I can’t help but wonder how it stacked up against other online porn websites. I guess I’ll never know.
All in all, MegaUpload n’ friends (as I will call it) got 50 million visitors a day, had 180 registered members, and accounted for 4% of internet usage.
What about other file sharing sites?
Yes, good question. It appears that the FBI wanted to have one really solid case against a file sharing giant rather than a larger, weaker case against numerous giants. This appears to have been a very successful strategy. By taking down MegaUpload, other file sharing sites such as FileSonic have began shutting down their services in fear of a similar fate, at least temporarily. VideoBB, which was a wanna-be Megavideo, has already started deleting all videos that may infringe on copyrights. The case against MegaUpload will most likely stick too.
What’s the impact of this shutdown?
Other than the fact that MegaUpload n’ friends is done and the point above, this will have serious consequences on online file sharing.
-My initial thought is: What about the money I paid for my MegaUpload subscription? Do I get that refunded for the remaining half year? Shucks. This actually really ticks me off. MegaUpload or the US Department of Justice should pay me back my money. Class action law suit?
-My second thought is: Where will I be able to watch my movies and shows now (I don’t have cable or Netflix)? Few websites are going to be stupid enough now to keep allowing illegal media on their sites. The ones that do will likely be shut down.
-My third thought is: How are people going to share or backup legitimate files online? Sure, there is dropbox and other ones, but not with the same kind of functionality. Will public online file sharing be the way of the Napster for good?
-And that brings me to the real impact of the shut down. Online file sharing is a great tool, especially with media getting increasingly large in file sizes. Email just doesn’t cut it and users need a way to share files. Not everybody has their own webserver and not everybody wants to sign up for some service like dropbox. Since the US is a pain in the arse and think they own the world (including digital world), any site that allows file sharing will probably just get shut down.
Well, although I am confident online file sharing as we know it has probably hit its peak and began its harsh decline, I am expecting some new, innovative form on file sharing to emerge. P2P was great while it lasted, but as it started to decline, torrents became popular. As torrents became less attractive, cloud based online sharing became popular. Therefore, I suspect some new medium will emerge shortly. I’m not really sure what it’s going to be, but I definitely think it will put the liability on the uploader and not the service. By this I mean, whenever you upload a file, you must agree that it is not illegal in any way and that you have the rights to share the file publicly, otherwise it will just be a private file.
Call me nuts, but I think Facebook has a huge opportunity here. I’m not sure if they want to take on the risk, but I am sure they have the funds to legally cover their butts. Since Facebook already has a large user base, and most likely the vast majority of MegaUpload users have a Facebook account, why doesn’t Facebook allow for some form of online storage? This way, users could easily share files to certain people or a variety of people. The legal aspect would be no different than posting a video or sharing a picture, that is, that you must be the owner of such material or have permission. In fact, if Facebook hasn’t already thought of this, you’re welcome.
Another possibility would be a form of ftp sharing. A website could have multiple FTP accounts that users could upload and download from. This might be horrible for indexing and searching, but I’m sure they could think of something.
Another alternative would be for companies to start offering web servers for people to share their files, without having to have domain and a website. To clarify this, FileSonic could start a type of hosting that allows users to upload content to web servers that cost a fraction of normal hosting packages. This way, FileSonic wouldn’t assume any liability but rather the people actually sharing the files.
With regards to video streaming, one idea that I could think of is a legal version of MegaVideo, similar to Netflix, but with the ability to download the source file like MegaVideo at an additional cost (either pay per use or subscription based), similar to a digital copy when purchasing a BlueRay. If this was a reality, I’d probably pay as it would save money on cable as well as on DVDs (I have yet to make the switch to the pointless blueray disk).
It’s pretty safe to say that VideoBB and Megavideo and other similar websites will start to disappear. This will result in a void for tech savy movie junkies and concerned people who actually want to backup their files to the cloud. As a result of this void, some new form of file sharing will emerge. I do not know what that will be, if I did, I would start doing it. If you have any ideas, let me know and we can go splitzies. In the meantime, I am going to keep complaining about how the US and MegaUpload (I won’t put the blame on one side or the other) stole $60 from me.
Anybody interested in starting a class action lawsuit?