The past week has seen a lot of good news for file sharing service Megaupload and founder Kim Dotcom as he fights his extradition to the US. Judge Helen Winkelmann of the New Zeland High Court ruled today that the warrants used to arrest Dotcom and search and seize his property were “invalid.” In Winkelmann’s brief on her ruling, she stated that the warrants used in the case were too vague and general. As such, their use in the arrest of Dotcom, the seizure of his assets, and the removal of Megaupload’s servers from New Zeland by the FBI, was illegal.
The ruling marks a major victory for Dotcom and his defense team. At FBI, at the behest of the RIAA, MPAA, and various trade organizations in the US, has been investigating Megaupload and Dotcom for the past two years. It is alleged that Megaupload was actively encouraging users to host copyright infringing content through the service, profiting from increased traffic and ad revenues from such content.
It seems that Dotcom also has some friends in high places. Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, voiced his opinion that the case against Dotcom is “hokey.”
“Copyright violation is wrong,” Wozniak said in an email to CNET. “So is driving over the speed limit. But don’t let that halt the progress of the digital age.” Dotcom also received some Twitter love from famous hacker Kevin Mitnick.
Police in New Zeland and the FBI have not offered comment on the ruling.
And so it goes: The war against filesharing and illegal downloading has officially begun. Earlier this week BTJunkie, one of the largest BitTorrent networks on the Internet, announced that it was shutting down for good.
“This is the end of the line my friends,” says the ominous message on their homepage. “The decision has 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!”
This, of course, is following the FBI’s recent takedown of filesharing Web site Megaupload.com. Currently, the Web site’s founder Kim Dotcom Schmitz is under arrest, $50 million worth of assets were seized along with cars, guns, and valuable artworks that Schmitz had in his possession. Also supposedly involved with the Web site was Alicia Keys’ husband Swizz Beatz, who was rumored to be Megaupload’s CEO.
Of course, BTJunkie isn’t the only Web site that has begun to take defensive action. FileSonic, FileServe, and Upload.to have all disabled their filesharing capabilities.
All this recent activity has brought to question where the future of music acquisition is headed. Let’s face it; many if not most of us have used some of these Web sites. Some of us even rely on them. But with more and more of them shutting down, and with SOPA and PIPA looming over the horizon, its no wonder that the Internet has taken a turn for the hostile. Piracy and illegal downloads have plagued the entertainment industry longer than we can remember, and now these industries are biting back. So where does that leave your average listener?
Well, the thing about the Internet is that someone will always find a way to bypass the system. We would hope that, in the future, the music industry might even take a hint from one of these Web sites and revolutionize the entire system of acquiring new music. For now, it looks like we’ll just have to go back to feeding our money to The Man…