With the recent Megaupload shutdown, cloud users are now asking if the service they are using would be the next target of the authorities. This is actually a great question, since there is an upswing in cloud services for the enterprise and consumer alike. We’re going to take a look at the sites that are likely to get hit next, as well as those that seem pretty safe. But first, let’s look at why Megaupload was shutdown in the first place.
We all know by now that Megaupload is a massive file sharing/storage site, even backed by celebrities. The porblem with Megaupload is that it allegedly promotes piracy: not only does copyrighted material get uploaded, downloaded and shared by users, but those that upload high quality, copyrighted files are given rewards such as premium service upgrade or even cash. Users who upload files don’t have to pay, but if you want to download large files or download content faster, you have to cash out. Simply put, Kim Dotcom, Megaupload’s founder, got filthy rich by making people pay for pirated content.
Closed For Business
Since the Megaupload debacle, there are already some sites that altered or restricted their services, either by precaution or pressure. FileSonic, the online storage service, disabled all the file sharing functionality of their service while Uploaded blocked US users from their site all together.
Torrent Freak listed other sites that have disabled all 3rd party downloads, closed or will close their affiliate programs and/or deleting accounts/files like UploadBox, x7.to, 4shared, FileJungle, UploadStation, and FilePost while VideoBB and VideoZer reportedly closed their rewards program.
The Inquisitor posted a list of file sharing sites that could be targeted next. The list includes: BayFiles - Hong Kong; DepositFiles – Cyprus; Divx Stage, HulkShare, MediaFire - Texas, MegaShares, NovaMov, OvFile, PutLocker, RapidShare - Switzerland, SockShare, UploadHere, UploadKing, WUpload - Hong Kong; and ZShare - Hong Kong.
But MediaFire CEO Derek Labian stated that their service will not be shut down, since they operate differently from Megaupload. He states that they try to steer clear from piracy and do not want users to pirate using their service. Labian also points out that they won’t likely be targeted because they maintain a “good relationship” with various government bodies, like the “Homeland Security, ICE, and the FBI,” as well as following DMCA protocols. If MediaFire is notified of a copyrighted file being shared inappropriately, they immediately take it down.
“We don’t have a business built on copyright infringement.” Labain said. “Like many other cloud-based sharing services like Box.net and Dropbox, we’re a legitimate business targeting professionals.”
PCWorld also adds Videobb and VidXDen to the list of sites that would probably be taken down, because they are known vessels for distributing pirated content and VidXDen also offers rewards for uploading content–the more people downloading your file, the more points you get.
The thing is, when you go to these sites, pirated files aren’t usually blatantly displayed, you just have to know how to look for these pirated files like accessing them through third-party sites. It only adds to the stickiness of this situation, and raises more questions than answers in this era of cloud file-sharing.
Safe Cloud Services
So does this mean that you shouldn’t use cloud services to store or share files because the site could be hosting pirated files, which could lead to it being shutdown? Not really. There are some pretty trustworthy cloud services like Google Docs, Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Box, and Dropbox that you could use. The difference between these legit file sharing services and the shady ones was already explained by Labain. Just like MediaFire, if they do not want the DOJ on their backs, they have to report copyright infringing files and remove the files in their system so it won’t be distributed illegally.
So, if you’re a cloud user or want to be one, better be smart about it. To be safe, go for the big brands, like those from Google and Microsoft, since those services would unlikely be targeted by the authorities and they offer better security for your files. But if cloud storage still seems a bit shady to you, just back your files on external hard drives–at least your files will be that much more protected from hackers. Just don’t leave them lying around for anyone to use, especially if you have sensitive, personal files saved.