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This Service Could Dismantle Copyright Forever

21 January 2013

Kim Dotcom’s Mega officially launches tomorrow, but we’re already in. From the membership plans we showed you this morning, the service might look like it’s just another online storage locker like Dropbox or Google Drive. (Update: It’s live.) But it’s way more than that. Mega is a weapon aimed straight at copyright rights holders. It’s maybe the most private, invincible file-sharing service of all time

Read it all Gizmodo

guest posted by Barbara Morgenroth

Copyright

29 Comments to “This Service Could Dismantle Copyright Forever”

  1. This I have got to check out!

  2. “This Service Could Dismantle Copyright Forever”

    Me thinks this service could send somebody to jail as well.

    Who wants to be the first example?

  3. Not really sure what to think. I’ve heard that having your books pirated can lead to follow on sales. I’ve even read a blog post from Aussie ex-pat Derek Haines where he pirated his own work.

    Kind of like a permanent select freebie, but without the exclusivity clause.

    Still, it’s only a matter of time before the govt comes up with a way to shut this down. If they need a new law, they’ll find time between lobbyist’s to knock something together.

  4. It does provide much more of a safe harbor for the host than previous incarnations.

    However, if somebody distributes the key to a file publicly, I think they’ll find that this changes exactly nothing in the calculus of whether they are personally violating the law.

    If this new service rewards pirated content providers the way Megaupload did, that will be very interesting. I suspect it won’t work but it *is* a new element in any potential defense. And if people are dumb enough to *name* the files in the clear – which they will be – then the fact that the host can’t “really” know what is in the file will not be very convincing, especially if the host rewards them for getting lots of downloads of their “unknown” files.

    • Marc,

      Wow. This whole business continues to amaze.

      I thought Kim was headed for the slammer anyway. If he thinks this will keep him out, forget it. There’s no way they’ll let this fly.

      I had thought that people like MS were getting sensible about price and copyright. On the release of Win 8, you could get upgrades for $16.

      Why would anyone bother fooling with the all round dangers and inconveniences of piracy, when it’s cheap to be legal?

      BAM!

      On February 1st, the price of Windows 8 is $200.

      For an operating system that is the very definition of marmite and is NOT selling at all well. It’s a world, a universe away from Vista, and is very usable. Windows 7 is very competent though and there’s NO NEED to change–yet.

      Every day is full of surprises.

      I have purchased 5 upgrade licences for Win 8, nice and shiny:)

      brendan

      • In the U.S., $16 is not that much money to someone in the middle class. A lot of pirates are not USians.

        In the Philippines, 16 USD is about one and a half day’s wages. In 2011 in Russia, which is now usually considered a mostly developed country (at least I thought it was), the average monthly salary was about 660 USD, and about 53 percent of the people have only enough money for food, clothing, and utilities. (http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c39/266542.html) Imagine having to pay the equivalent of $75 for one DVD.

        This is not to excuse piracy (do I need to underline that? LOL) but to point out that what many of us would consider minor leisure expenses are luxuries to many others. It doesn’t make infringement morally right, but it does shed some light on international pirates and their motivations, especially when they come from more depressed economies.

        Personally, I don’t begrudge poor people balking at having to save for months to buy one book. I believe that art and culture and entertainment should be more widely acceptable. YMMV.

        • Feel free to use your own personal resources (money, creativity, time) to create and distribute art, culture and entertainment at prices you feel are reasonable.

          I did not volunteer for your ministry.

          • I will, thanks.

            I don’t run a ministry. What I *said* was that in order to understand an issue, it helps to do research, to know who you’re fighting, and why.

            In my experience, having been around plenty of college students who pirated just about everything in the last decade, calling them freeloaders and thieves and suing them and threatening them with jail time or revoking their internet access or moaning about the dearth of morals and “personal responsibility” will not solve the problem.

            I think artists deserve to be business people and be paid for their work so they can create full-time. That doesn’t mean that we need government intervention to stifle innovation (which, if I recall correctly, was what torrents were in the beginning before the Scene exploited them, for instance: a fast and free way to distribute large chunks of data to anyone in the world with an internet connection).

            I used to work in voice acting, and the best way to distribute our original work and increase our audience share (who then bought more merchandise!) was via torrents, otherwise we would have exhausted our bandwidth. We also sold CDs while distributing free digital copies (this was when iTunes was more of a pain to sell through).

            Reacting to technology with long-term business strategies without carpet bombing it (like the RIAA and MPAA did) could produce more positive results for artists. Of course, calm and rational thinking also requires an open mind.

        • A lot of rightsholders practice price discrimination in order to make the product affordable, yet protect their key markets. US residents can and do pay more for a product than what it may be sold for in some other jurisdiction. Just ask Kirtsaeng, who was nabbed for importing grey market textbooks and reselling them. The case is currently with the US Supreme Court. Google Kirtsaeng v. Wiley & Sons, which could eviscerate territorial rights–though I doubt it will come down that way.

  5. This service sounds like it could be used for any files. If DropBox is OK, why would an encrypted DropBox be a problem? It would be interesting if people claimed we can’t encrypt our our stuff because they are afraid someone might be encrypting their stuff.

    • “If DropBox is OK, why would an encrypted DropBox be a problem? ”

      Terrence,

      Dropbox IS encrypted.

      https://www.dropbox.com/help/27/en

      brendan

    • As I said, if the service is content-neutral, this is a pretty good safe harbor argument.

      If it rewards reasonably apparent piracy by incentiving downloads, allowing naming files in the clear, etc, then this is no longer a Dropbox equivalent, and the argument fails.

    • Ars Technica has a thoughtful article on encryption of the new Mega: http://arstechnica.com/business/2013/01/megabad-a-quick-look-at-the-state-of-megas-encryption/

      Mega looks like it is trying to insulate itself with the safe harbor by shrouding itself with ignorance of what its users are sharing–it’s all doubbly encrypted.

      As the article points out, the terms of service confusingly refers to using data deduplication, which implies Mega must be able to tell identical files from one another and the identities of all those sharing the same file–otherwise you can’t deduplicate. (It also happens to thwart the supposed encryption paradigm Mega says it provides).

  6. All of these pirates see themselves as “stickin’ it to The Man,” but what they don’t realize is they’re “stickin’ it to their fellow man.” I have a word for people like that, but I’m going to be good and censor myself.

  7. “pirates”

    Elle,

    I am against word inflation for news purposes, or for improper villification of criminals. I point out the almost universal use of Robbed, when someone’s home has been burgled.

    To rob is to steal with the threat of violence. Burglary is theft while within premises as a trespasser, specifically, without violence.

    Piracy is theft by violence, often including murder of ships on the seas. It is a dreadful crime, deserving of societies most serious punishment.

    Copyright thieves are NOT pirates.

    I hold no brief for them, and I pay for what I consume. (Even if I groan sometimes at the price.) If I want the artist whose work I enjoy to produce more, they need to eat.

    Not having a crack at you, Elle, just ranting at word inflation in general.

    brendan

    • Brendan wrote, “Copyright thieves are NOT pirates.”

      Sure they are. Copyright thieves have been known as pirates for over 400 years. This Wikipedia article has a few references concerning this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_infringement#.22Piracy.22

      Also, the US Govt. copyright office uses the word piracy to describe copyright theft. http://www.copyright.gov/docs/regstat052505.html

      The word wasn’t co-opted. It actually describes a type of property theft.

      • “Copyright thieves have been known as pirates for over 400 years.”

        Warren,

        Excerpt: The practice of labelling the infringement of exclusive rights in creative works as “piracy” predates statutory copyright law.

        Precisely, it predated the defined law, because the law was ambiguous. Which is exactly what this word inflation is attempting to do now.

        “the US Govt. copyright office uses the word piracy to describe copyright theft.”

        And they are completely and utterly wrong.

        Piracy is internationally defined legally as the act of robbery with violence on the seas. Referring to copyright theft is word inflation for emotive, incorrect purposes. Precisely as that bunch of printers sought so to do back when they protected their works.

        That MaryBeth Peters used the word piracy was quite frankly, disgraceful, and WRONG.

        “The word wasn’t co-opted. It actually describes a type of property theft.”

        I differ. Piracy is what them bad boys out in the seas off Somalia do.

        brendan

        • Brendan, do you have an opinion on the casual use of “mayhem”?

          • “Brendan, do you have an opinion on the casual use of “mayhem”?”

            Josh,

            No.

            Affray, yes.

            Mayhem, no:)

            brendan

            • Affray? What, that’s just an assault.

              • “Affray? What, that’s just an assault.”

                Josh,

                Arggh, servant, pass me my baseball bat. That’s all these blasted cousins understand!

                Affray, the fighting of two or more people to the terror of her majesty’s subjects. (I had a hell of a time with that apoxtrophe:)

                brendan

    • I think ‘pirate’ is a more appropriate term than ‘thief,’ but I prefer ‘infringers.’ I believe intent counts for something, so the pirates technically also include people who jailbreak devices they own or download copies of digital books when they own the print copies, making duplicates of works no longer publicly available anywhere, etc.

      I know many writers disagree. ;)

  8. One can rob a person of words without ever committing a crime. The phrase “internet piracy” was coined to express not only an act but the result. To steal one’s intellectual property is to kill innovation, to violate an artist’s soul, to rob an artist of her well-earned revenue. Therefore, I think it’s an apt term for what many have suffered through the means provided by He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-Dotcom.

    English is a living language, evolving with use over time adapting to changing landscapes. I know some have a hard time with that, but I don’t.

  9. “One can rob a person of words without ever committing a crime.”

    Ellie,

    There you go again:)

    No, you can’t “Rob,” a person of their words without committing a crime. Robbery, correctly legally defined requires violence “in order,” to gain the theft.

    “To steal one’s intellectual property is to kill innovation”

    Perhaps Stephenie Meyer and E.L.James might differ. Fan fiction writers might also.

    “to violate an artist’s soul, to rob an artist of her well-earned revenue.”

    Madison avenue ad speak. Emotive language, shilling a position. Not expressing facts.

    Those who steal intellectual property are thieves. Not pirates or robbers.

    The problem is: if you don’t call a spade a spade, everyone listening has to further translate to avoid ambiguity.

    To describe those who steal intellectual property as pirates isn’t living language but lazy dissimulation.

    brendan

  10. You and I can agree to disagree, then, clearly.

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