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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

MegaUpload shutdown is justified

Internet file sharers were in for a rude awakening on Jan. 19 when the popular site and its associated sites, including, were shut down by the FBI and several individuals connected to the site were arrested in New Zealand and charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering and criminal copyright infringement. The life lived by the top-level MegaUpload employees was almost comical in its excess. Co-Founder Kim Dotcom owns what is believed to be the most expensive house in New Zealand and had 18 cars, with license plates such as “EVIL,” “MAFIA” and “GUILTY.” This luxurious lifestyle was, according to authorities, all possible thanks to rampant copyright theft. It is true that MegaUpload was not entirely used for piracy. Many individuals used the site as a personal digital locker or to distribute legitimate files. Furthermore, some would argue that MegaUpload is not very different from YouTube, which hosts a plethora of easily accessible copyrighted content. However, YouTube is protected from lawsuits and a shutdown by the “Safe Harbor” provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which prevents a host from being liable for copyrighted materials uploaded by users as long as they take down materials when requested by the copyright holders.

The 72-page indictment handed down by a federal grand jury at a U.S. District Court in Virginia makes the case that the heads of the site were willingly cooperating in copyright infringement on a massive scale and thus not protected by the Safe Harbor provision. If the charges are true, the arrests and shutdown were more than justified. One email exchange between two highlevel MegaUpload employees has one of them saying, “we have a funny business … modern day pirates :)” to which the other responds, “we’re not pirates, we’re just providing shipping services to pirates :).” Clearly, the leaders of MegaUpload were aware they were running a pirate site, but despite their claims to the contrary, they were also actively partaking in piracy. In MegaVideo’s early days, to establish its library, employees were directly copying videos from YouTube, according to the indictment. One email exchange shows a MegaUpload employee saying “Kim [Dotcom] really wants to copy Youtube one to one.” Another emails asks, “Do we have a server available to continue downloading of the Youtube’svids [sic]? … Kim just mentioned again that this has really [sic] priority.” Employees themselves were also engaged in uploading and downloading copyrighted TV shows and music, according to the indictment.

MegaUpload had a rewards program in place until July 2011 that offered financial incentives for uploaders of popular content. While the official policy stated that rewards program participants would be disqualified for uploading pirated content, internal email exchanges in the indictment show rewards being paid out to individuals who the company knew were uploading ripped DVDs and copyrighted MP3s. MegaUpload did introduce an “Abuse Tool” for copyright holders, but the tool did not function as advertised, according to the indictment, as it allegedly only removed individual links to infringing files instead of the file itself, making the tool almost useless, as there could be hundreds of different links to the same file. It’s unfortunate that users with legitimate files hosted on MegaUpload have lost access to them, thanks to the seizure of the MegaUpload domain. Furthermore, it is worrisome that the shutdown and arrests may result in legitimate digital locker providers limiting their services out of fear of similar repercussions. Already, has disabled the sharing functionality of its site. However, these concerns do not change the fact that authorities were justified in their shutdown of MegaUpload. Piracy is theft, and MegaUpload was doing plenty of it.


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Marines who defile corpses deserve prosecution BY


Washington Square News

A video of four American Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban soldiers was posted on YouTube, sending a wave of disgust all over the world. Defense secretary Leon Panetta called the video “utterly despicable” and promised a full investigation of the case. While the majority of the world condemns the disturbing act of these soldiers, some Americans see the issue differently. They see it as a perfectly justifiable revenge against the killers of Americans. The ex-presidential candidate Rick Perry is among these patriots. “What was really disturbing to me is … the over-the-top rhetoric from this [Obama] administration and their disdain for the military,” Perry said. “I mean, these [soldiers] made a mistake. There’s not any doubt about it. They shouldn’t have done it. It’s bad. But to call it a criminal act, I think, is over the top.”

He showed more passion in defense of these troops in a recent debate than in the one on Jan. 8. The position taken by these so-called patriots can be appealing at first glance. After all, many people have a deep hatred for radical Muslims who have committed outrageous crimes against the United States. Nevertheless, the American government must investigate this case thoroughly as a criminal act in order to abide by the existing laws, to build up a peaceful relation with the Middle East and to preserve the good values upheld by Americans. The Geneva Convention, an international agreement on the rules of wars, clearly states that “[t]he remains of persons who have died for reasons … resulting from … hostilities … shall be respected.” In response to the Geneva Convention, the U.S. Naval Handbook adds that the “mutilation and other mistreatment of the dead” is a war crime. The act of these

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Marines can be categorized as disrespect and mistreatment of the dead bodies, and therefore it is definitely not “over the top” to call the act a crime. Rather, if the government does not prosecute these soldiers, America would break the existing laws, putting our own administration in disrepute for not abiding by the laws that we ourselves have ratified. Even if no specific protocol outlaws the mistreatment of dead bodies during wars, the American government would still need to prosecute these American soldiers in order to preserve the already fragile relationship with the Middle East. It has taken much effort to get the Afghan government on our side. If our government does not prosecute the four American soldiers, it would just add more volatility to the existing tensions between the U.S. and the Middle East. The Karzai government of Afghanistan would see it as offensive and disdainful toward its people. Other Muslim countries

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would also take this matter offensively, thus becoming even more hostile toward America. In addition, certain terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda can use it as a perfect justification for their bloody wars against the United States. Furthermore, the American society is built upon certain morals and values, including mercy, respect, and humanitarianism. The reason we sent troops to the Middle Eastern countries is to spread these good values to the rest of the world that was once dominated by barbarity, cruelty and inhumanity. We do not fight against these countries so that we can humiliate them. The barbaric and inhumane act of the urinating soldiers is antithetical to the intention of our war, as well as to the values that we want to promote. To once again restore the cause of the war and promote the good American values, the government must condemn these soldiers by regarding the issue as a serious war crime. ADVERTISING POLICY All advertising copy is subject to the approval of the Editorin-Chief, Executive Board and Executive Business Director. A publication schedule and rate card are available upon request.


Tufts Daily for Wednesday, January 25, 2012