The closing of Megaupload and some reflections

The issue has become a global bomb at a time when the legislation SOPA and PIPA had warmed the environment. The revelations of the number of millions that their creators and the international infrastructure that they had assembled were amazing, as well as the reactions of the community of users with justifications ranging from high philosophy to the sublime ridiculous. The actions of collectives such as Anonimous warn us that a war in cyberspace can be fatal in the face of our dependence on a connected and globalized world.

The issue is that Megaupload became a gigantic reference for downloads. It is said that nothing less than 4% of daily traffic on the Internet was taken by this business, which has been closed under an argument of having been «designed for an illegal purpose«.

The legitimate side of this

It is definitely necessary for governments, companies and professionals develop policies of respect for copyright. In much of Latin America, creative entrepreneurship is unattractive, such as writing books, producing music, movies or developing computer tools because it is quite widespread that making illegal copies is not a robbery, in many cases the work of governments is so little that even state offices use illegal licenses and promote "folk" ambient music that has been copied damaging a local author who invested in its production.

The arguments that the software is very expensive become really ridiculous, to put a couple of examples:

Why is a private GIS program worth 1,500 dollars? and Why 1,300 must be paid for each extension?

Because the market is like this, sustaining an international industry costs silver, positioning the product and keeping it updated requires marketing decisions that end in placing a price on it.

But also because with that tool we make money, a single work of cartography modestly charged allows us to recover that investment. We are more productive because we do a better job than we did before with paper-based maps Maila and crisscrossed on a light table or in the window glass.

We can not deny that technology makes us more productive. We pay for a computer, because with it we generate more profits, we pay for CAD software because we could not grab the drawing board and do things with less productivity. That's why we pay in software and hardware, because we do it in less time and with the quality that the client demands; both cases represent economic benefit. Flour of another costal is that some companies confuse the innovation with the consumerism, but in general nobody keeps the theodolite Wild of the Seventies and a total station is bought only because it is prettier.

If it does not seem to us, we use Open Source software and it is over. Same job -and better- can be done with a free tool such as gvSIG or Quantum GIS. A pity that the same can not be said in other free alternatives that lack much maturity and sustainability.

It is unfair! in Megaupload we downloaded books that we occupy in the University, some of them no longer even exist.

megaupload

Let's be serious. If someone is in the University, it is because they have learned the value that knowledge represents. You have to invest in books, if you do not have money for it, then you limit yourself to the possibilities that exist in the University library. But the deficiency of educational services is not justifying for an illegal practice, if that were the case when you graduate you will go around stealing property from others for their own benefit.

Sooner or later we must understand that a title also makes us professionals, this includes respect for the investment that others make in knowledge and that materializes in a computer program or a book. Once you have your degree, you expect to be more productive not only because you learned more, but because you can charge better; because I suppose you will not do a consultancy and you will give it away there so that the company that commissioned it makes copies and distributes it over the Internet.

It is not about philosophy or religiosity, it is simply respect for the universal principle that Confusio 300 said years before Christ:

What you do not want others to do to you, you should not do to them.

The illegitimate side

pirateThe issue is complex because of practice situations that did not exist 30 years ago. Piracy has never been so «easy to practice«. The question enters into question: if what the FBI did is justified, supported and legitimate, then what is the SOPA Act for?

The uncomfortable remains in the balance of international law. The right of those who used Megaupload to store files that did not violate copyright, and that they had paid for that service. Then, the influence of 30 companies weighs more than the right of millions of users.

Perhaps what bothers most is that interventionist habit that these powers have to do what we all know. I wonder:

If a terrorist pursued by the Kuwaiti Government is to hide in the Tomball region, at 1 Houston time, will the Americans let several Middle Eastern countries come to bomb several areas of Texas until they find it?

But they do believe they have the right to do so anywhere in the world.

So, taking back the uncomfortable thing you've done with Megaupload, it's:

What if a new company proves that with the new Gmail email servers there is stored much copyrighted material?

If they applied the same treatment, and decided to close Google, without a doubt it would be a world chaos. But suppose they do not close Google, but they do with the service that is allowing illegal action and close Gmail from one day to the next. Considering how much we now depend on an email account: where our files are stored, the follow-up of our work, the movement of our businesses, the contacts, just thinking about it causes as desire to pee.

There is also much to talk about the violation of privacy. The Megaupload case demonstrates that there are powers capable of knowing privacy in electronic communications. And if someone wanted to use that for evil ... it's scary. Beyond a day to make public the extramarital conversations of Facebook, Gmail or Yahoo Messenger just by typing the email address of the two people, it would be fatal for large companies to take advantage of information from their competitors to take advantage.

On this, the P2P services and many conspiracies ... there is more to talk and it does not fit in this article.

And so?

If there is a gain in the closure of Megaupload, it is that all companies that are dedicated to similar actions have dawned reviewing their strategies, including services that we have all used and with very good quality as the case of DropBox or Yousendit. You do not have to be fortune-tellers to predict that an update of use policies is coming from these sites and more supervision in practices that lend themselves to illegality.

Not that they do not have them, but currently when you report a violation, the protocol leads to requesting so much information to prove that you are the author or owner of a product that give desire to forget the subject; so that in the end they only delete the file of a user, instead of generalizing the alert to the mark that has been reported.

On the contrary, whoever uploads movies, music, software or books should not prove anything. Just write the name of a brand in Google, AutoCAD 2012 to give an example, and we will see that the download sites do so much optimization work that they appear first in the search engines, even many times before the same manufacturer. Google will surely have to make adjustments to the algorithm.

As it happened with Napster, Megaupload will not be able to revive, not from the hand of its author whose criminal history is nothing short of disastrous. Possibly the hacker community took it back, or the sites that benefited generating traffic to these contents, but it is more likely that competitors will take action to prevent illegality in order to steal the post that Megaupload had received, which reached 50 Millions of daily visits Possibly all of them would be very little interested in doing a hunger strike to defend Megaupload, since with the hunger they brought, their end could be sweet revenge. One of all will be the replacement; that yes with new rules before this warning.

Who will it be? MediaFire, Filefactory, Quicksharing, 4shared, Badongo, Turboupload ... it's not a matter of time, it's SOPA.

Whats Next

So simple, we must fight for the SOPA / PIPA legislation and its derivations in each country do not pass with that level of superpowers. That the politicians do not make laws that they do not even understand, that is regulated in such a way that there are not the ambiguities that already have been explained to satiety by the network.

For those of us who are dedicated to working, let us return to the awareness that our offices use legal software and advance in knowing the Open Source alternatives that have much to offer.

For those who used Megaupload legitimately, to fight for the right to be returned, at least to be able to download the files they had stored, upload them to another site and correct links that directed traffic to those files. Unprotected content that was there and that represented a cultural contribution, can be found elsewhere.

And for those who were doing massive piracy on Megaupload ... to take care of themselves because they had provided a lot of information, now that and everything they did inside is known by legal entities.

3 Replies to "From the closing of Megaupload and some reflections"

  1. Piracy will always exist, not only in digital media, unfortunately it is part of our environment as a society and that does not mean that I am in favor. This phenomenon as all good and bad of us as a human being, is now reflected in the digital world.
    What is also true is that, with the mediocre salaries we receive, we can not buy such licenses. This is where there is no equity, where large companies analyze their costs for large companies or large people.
    The problem of SOPA, PIPA, ACTA among others, is that it gives power to governments and companies, breaking with the users' privacy and obtaining benefit from them.
    I take as an example, here in Mexico, that supposedly by registering the cell phones with our personal data such as name and CURP, the extortion by phone would end, which did not happen. Just thinking that the government has these private data, I start shaking to know that they reach the wrong hands. Regards.

  2. Of course, it is a social phenomenon as easy to solve as bringing equity to the world. 🙂

    But it is also true that much piracy does not obey the need to produce, but a mania for consumerism:

    If someone can not buy full AutoCAD, that buy LT, for the equivalent of US $ 1000
    If you can not, then you buy an IntelliCAD for US $ 500 and if you find it very expensive because you buy QCAD for US $ 60.
    If you do not have half of a minimum wage for QCAD, it is expected a year and LibreCAD is lowered.

    Another option is to grab the drawing board and chinographers. If you decide on an IntelliCAD, you will do the same as you would with AutoCAD, and you will collect your work. With 14 drawings made by a cartoonist for a price of US $ 37, the license can be paid.

    The problem is when we believe that piracy is a correct practice because it is impossible to stop. This is why OpenSource initiatives find it difficult to be sustainable, because people see it easier to hack Microsoft Office than learn OpenOffice.

    Bad practice leads us to believe that everything can be downloaded from there for free. To the extent that people don't want to pay for a Stitchmaps license worth US $ 50.

    Greetings, thanks for the contribution.

  3. There would be no piracy if people had enough money to buy the products. And the price of the products is prohibitive. In Mexico, a person who wants to buy the autocad 2012, for example, would have to collect two years of minimum wages in order to have access to the program. While in Holland, a person who wants to buy the same program would cost three months of minimum wage. The difference is social, people access piracy because of the simple fact that the original product is far from their reality.
    Sure, you're going to argue that you do not buy the autocad 2012, that you buy a box to go shoe-shining.
    Piracy is a social and economic phenomenon. It is not exclusively closed to copyright.
    For example, many books that are not basic in the training of students, are no longer found in libraries. But you can not find them in bookstores either. Why? For the simple fact that they are not commercial and publishers do not want to publish them. They simply discontinue them, but they stay with the copyrights, they do not sell or give them. And then what about those titles? They are lost by a mercantile vision.
    What you can think of the patents for medicines. When you find out that the main pharmaceutical laboratories are meeting in Switzerland to agree not to lower the price of medicines.
    Or the robbery that microsoft does to mac for its win 7; the theft of technology from Boing to Aerobus; or the theft of technology from Cervélo to Cannondale; the Porsche spying on Mac Laren; Intel stealing technology and officials from AMD; Android, annoying Steve Jobs for industrial theft; or Apple against the Phillips; the Mercedes Benz on the engineers of the Maseratti.

    It is very easy to have a ruler but measure in two different ways. The problem is that transnational corporations want to have the rest of humanity as passive client clients. Only that, they don't see people as what they are. See people as money. To the one to subtract.

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