Megaupload’s mega shutdown

Story by Emily Gresbrink

Let me begin by stating the obvious: the Internet is absolutely fantastic. It has opened up countless forms of self-expression, communication, entertainment and resources for the world.

On the other hand, it’s a curse. There are as many loopholes and legal fiascos as there are joyous cat pictures. It’s a minefield underneath the biggest and best playground in the world, as I like to think of it.

As many of you know, the censorship of the Internet was challenged with SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act). The Internet blew up into a rage-fit, blacking out major sites such as Wikipedia, WordPress and The Oatmeal (anything but that, Lord, please!) in protest.

But guess what? Senators and supporters flipped the switch on the blackout and the bills immediately were put on hold for the time being. That means the Internet community is not only highly entertaining and a great resource, but super effective as a mass protest figure!

Anyway, a day or so after the bills were sedated, Megaupload was shut down.

Megaupload is — excuse me, was — a rather large downloading, torrent and viewing site for videos and music; its most famous offshoot is probably Megavideo, a website you could stream hard-to-find film noir or the episode of “Bones” you missed last week.

However, you had the option to download the content and that’s what got it shut down. Intellectual property was being illegally shared and pirated, in fancier terms.

I do not think Megaupload should have been shut down. There is absolutely nothing wrong with watching (not downloading) videos online. You’re not stealing anything by just watching it: Trying something on at the store and leaving it there is much different than stuffing the clothes into your pack and walking away.

Here’s the other side of Megaupload’s mega shutdown: While it is super inconvenient for me (as Oscar season is nigh), I’m glad it was shut down — the content you should be sharing and downloading needs to be legally authorized to be shared. The punishment is necessary to set an example. Illegal downloading is (guess what?) illegal.

In a way, the shutdown is good for Internet users as a protective measure that I agree with. Megaupload kind of had it coming, since it was stolen content. By shutting it down, we can’t download things and get into boatloads of trouble.

Here at UW-Eau Claire we have pretty strict illegal downloading policies. According to the fabulous blue planners available in Towers Hall, you can lose your Internet access for an entire semester with enough offenses, not including the sky-high fines for downloading the newest Selena Gomez song (because you know you love it!).

What if you stumbled into a Megavideo download and thought you could get away with it, then had to pay a fine three times your tuition? Yucky.

Maybe allowing Megavideo to turn into a MPAA/RIAA-friendly site would have been better than ambushing it. For our personal use, when credit is given, consent shared and nothing is downloaded, I do not think it’s wrong to utilize filesharing.

I won’t keep you here forever, but do this for me: Be careful on the Internet playground.

I want you to reblog all the hilarious images you want, but keep the sources linked. I want you to watch all the videos you can, but watch the legal ones only from official accounts or ones that give full credit. Avoid those hidden landmines of downloads and torrents.

Nobody likes the Internet when it costs more than what you’ve got.