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The huge file-sharing site www.megaupload.com has been shut down by the Feds. Even though it operates from Hong Kong and top staff work in New Zealand, the US authorities argue that they ran 525 servers in Virginia, they made money in US$ and knowingly hosted pirated US material, and furthermore paid out money to US citizens, so they are doing (illegal) business in the US and are subject to US jurisdiction. The owner and top management have been arrested and charged with racketeering and copyright infringement. A news article about the megaupload seizure on NDTV says that the Justice Department’s website was taken down in revenge by hackers (hacking group Anonymous has claimed credit).

It seems owner Kim Dotcom and his top staff had a rather lavish lifestyle, with umpteen Mercedes’, Lamborginis and so on, including one with the number plate “GUILTY”. Hmm…

Well, of course it is right that lawbreakers are arrested, but on the other hand, the Internet model involves a very heavy reliance on the free distribution of information. Much of that information (movies, images, and so on) actually belongs to copyright holders… And outside the Internet it is hardly possible to acquire anything for free these days: we even pay for our daily brainwashing sessions in front of the TV, for the most part (those of us who still watch it occasionally, anyway). Will big business end up taking all of everybody’s money off them?


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