BTjunkie, a popular search engine for torrents has given up on continuing its operations and is not operational from now on.
This decision, although taken ‘voluntary’ by service owners, is clearly a ripple effect of what happened with Megaupload a couple weeks back.
This is the end of the line my friends. The decision does not come easy, but we’ve decided to voluntarily shut down. We’ve been fighting for years for your right to communicate, but it’s time to move on. It’s been an experience of a lifetime, we wish you all the best!
Since the Megaupload fiasco, many other file sharing sites have proactively taken several preventive measures(such as disallowing file sharing, not rewarding file uploaders, etc) to not be perceived as similar to Megaupload. But BTJunkie happens to be the first case in this row where the entire services have been voluntarily shut down by its owners.
But in case, you’re hearing about the tremor of a news from the demolishing Torrent World for the first time, here is where it all started from…
Mega-Blow behind Shutdown(Limited or Complete) of File sharing services
Online piracy has become a huge concern for the US justice department in the past few years. In its efforts to curb online piracy, the US courts and FBI shut down one of the biggest file sharing services, MegaUpload.com. For some perspective on how huge Megaupload is, It’s the 13th most popular website in the world and accounts for 4% of the total web traffic.
On 20th January 2012, the US courts ruled against MegaUpload, leading to the shutdown of the website. Moreover, Kim Schmitz (usually known as Kim Dotcom) and Mathias Ortmann, founders of MegaUpload, were arrested in Auckland, New Zealand.
Three other executives of the website were also arrested while two other executives are on the run. In addition to this, an additional 20 arrest warrants were issued in eight different countries and all the servers hosted in US, Netherlands and Canada were seized. Apart from this, a total of 18 domain names belonging to MegaUpload family have been blocked leading to the worldwide shutdown of MegaUpload services.
All this has been done because of the charges placed by FBI on Megaupload founders. These charges include: “engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement”.
One more statement about the case was posted on the FBI website saying that this action was amongst the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the US and directly targeted the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property online.
The prosecution alleges that Megaupload has had over 1 Billion visits to the website with more than 150 Million registered users and 50 Million daily visitors. The losses caused by MegaUpload are estimated to be over $500 Million. The owners of the website are also said to have illegally earned more than $175 Million of profits through advertising and by selling premium memberships.
However, before it was closed down, Megaupload issued a statement reading: “The fact is that the vast majority of Megaupload’s internet traffic is legitimate, and we are here to stay. If the content industry would like to take advantage of our popularity, we are happy to enter into a dialogue. We have some good ideas. Please get in touch.”
Megaupload = Youtube ?
Megaupload has been trying to defend itself by telling the courts that the operation and functioning of MegaUpload is idnetical to the rules followed by legitimate websites such as Youtube and Metacafe.
A user, before uploading any file, has to agree to the condition that file is not protected under any kind of copyright. The infringing material is pulled down if anybody reports it as illegal. FBI stated online that even though the illegal files were removed from the website, no action, in particular, was taken against the user uploading the files. So he can just upload the file again.
There have been a lot of after effects post closure of MegaUpload. Anonymous, the popular hacktivist group has said that it had brought down the US Justice Department’s website. The department also reported that its server was experiencing a drastic increase in activity resulting in a degradation of service and was investigating the cause of this activity.
There has been a lot of discussion on many technological forums whether acts like this would help curb piracy, or will just make the people move from MegaUpload to some other such service, just like it happened when Napster was brought down.
A huge unrest is also shown by people who have a premium membership of Megaupload. Those people have paid for the membership and the website is now shut down. Other major effects include the steps taken by another such site FileSonic. The website FileSonic worked in a way similar to Megaupload but has now changed the policies and now allows user to download only the files which were uploaded by them.
SOPA and PIPA are already being discussed, and with forced shutdowns like MegaUpload and voluntary shut downs like BTJunkie shows that the future of online file sharing is bleaker than ever.
Now what we actually need to observe is whether these policies will actually do any good to stop online piracy or will it just make the ‘pirates’ adopt different methods of piracy.