Legal action against everyone
Kim Schmitz, the FBI and the music industry — all of this
appear to be miles apart to the unconcerned Megaupload user. But are they
really safe? File-sharers can be identified easily, with the help of tracking
tools that copyright holders can use to monitor hosting sites and record the
users' IP address. Additionally, the host of copyright-infringed content sharing
out his supplies can be pinpointed even more easily, and perhaps even heavier
penalised. And what’s stopping everyone from sending in a wave of
The futility and expense of it, that's what. A wave of court
orders may be big, but it's not an effective route. There may be simply too
many to charge, and too many court cases to fight, to truly eradicate every
single infringed user that amount to the millions. And it may not be as easy as
it seems for users of file hosting sites like Megaupload. A person who clicks
on a link and downloads a file anonymously does not leave any traceable tracks.
It's really the database of Megaupload which could be the source of for the
IPs. "However there is no evidence that a user may be prosecuted in such a
way", says Rebecca Jeschke from Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the
data protection organisation.
from Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
While anonymous users are currently on the safer side,
premium users are the ones facing likely trouble; they had registered their
credentials and paid using credit cards, thus easily identifiable over
Megaupload’s accounting system. However, this premium access is not adequate
enough a reason to start charging someone of copyright infringement, as
file-hosting in itself is legal. Many calls have been made to demand the end of
liability privilege for file-hosts. This means that the providers are only
responsible for the contents that are known to them. However, a content check
is not mandatory at the moment.
Another argument that arose is the fact that providers who
are aware of the pirated content, and even rewards this to some extent,
"some extent/must-be made accountable for this. This basically requires
service providers to check every single content on their hosts, which
RapidShare does not believe in. "Even if a checking of all uploaded files
would technically be feasible, it would mean a massive invasion of the private
sphere", says Daniel Raimer, the company spokesperson. This discussion
would be settled in late summer, when the Federal Supreme Court renders a
judgment with respect to the liability issue. If the Court confirms the
liability of the file-hosters, it could have wide-ranging consequences, even
for Cloud providers like Apple, Amazon, Google or Microsoft, as surmised by
Prof. Thomas Hoeren, a legal science expert for IT-rights, in an interview. As
of yet the end of the Cloud service in the present form cannot be ruled out.
“One illegal copy cannot turn into a legal one under any
circumstances". Marion Janke, attorney at law for Media & Copyrights
Marion Janke, attorney at law for Media & Copyrights
The users, who used the Megaupload as online memory for
their legal data, are facing an entirely different problem at the present.
Their data is not accessible anymore and had presumably been completely deleted
by the end of February. Megaupload is currently incapable of paying the two
hosting companies of their servers anymore, which are Cogent Communications
Group Carpathia hosting: Cogent had taken a 23% nosedive in stocks after
Megaupload's closing. They themselves cannot secure the uploaded data since
they do not have access to server contents. A temporary website called
Megaretrieval.com had been set up for users to retrieve their legally-uploaded
Using firesharing and filehosting?
Both are legal in principle, of course, but fundamentally
the following is also applicable: downloading of contents is prohibited if the
offered copy is transparently illegal. These are films, games, software or
music that are being commercially available. A user cannot wriggle out of this
with claims of ignorance. Perhaps the biggest offence is the redistribution of
files considered protected by copyright laws -- users who uploaded the content
is also liable of charges even if he had not intended it to be shared among
other. This may result in a more expensive lawsuit, while downloaders
are less likely to face something more than a fine. The subject on
freeware or publically available content is a little more on the grey area,
usually pertaining first to the terms of usage set by the creators or
Viewing movie and TV streams?
The same principals apply here. Viewing TV and movie sites
are only legal if the content is transparently legal. Judges of different
countries or regions may interpret the act of viewing itself as illegal and an
infringement of copyright, while some contest this decision. But there's no set
decree or judgement on this, nor has anyone been sued on this grounds, mostly
because in the difficulty on identifying them. Even so, it's highly doubtful
that it'll go further than a cease and desist letter.
Downloading youtube videos?
You may view videos on YouTube, surely, but nothing more,
according to the terms set by the video portal. According to them, downloading
YouTube videos is prohibitied, though you may not be too worried. Google has
discontinued action against the many stream downloading tools, and have no way
to discover who exactly has viewed and permanently copied the videos. However,
you should only download it for yourself and not distribute them. Adding
background music using ripped MP3s is also forbidden. While you won't be facing
legal action for this, your video may be deleted and your account be revoked.