CYBERSPACE—As far as porn is concerned, anti-piracy legislation being considered by Congress might be unnecessarily redundant. In the wake of last week's closure by the feds of Megaupload and the arrest of its founder and several employees, Filesonic has disabled file sharing, which is bad news for porn pirates looking to benefit from their thieving ways.
The digital locker paid people to upload content that was then downloaded by others—to the tune of $35 per 1000 downloads. Considering the likelihood that new porn made up a majority of the uploads, and that the vast majority of those uploads were probably illegal, the move by the feds (certainly done on behalf of mainstream media) is sure to benefit the adult industry as much or more than any other industry.
"All sharing functionality on FileSonic is now disabled. Our service can only be used to upload and retrieve files that you have uploaded personally," a banner across the top of the site's homepage now reads.
According to Gizmodo, the move was a depressingly self-inflicted move that will be repeated by others. "If committing suicide (or honorably dying like a samurai depending on your perspective) is the trend of these file sharing sites," opined the Gawker Media-owned site, "the shutdown of Megaupload will always be remembered as a dark, dark day for the Internet. Sad. We'll probably see how other file sharing sites like RapidShare, MediaFire react to this news soon."
For its part, RapidShare told Mashable in an emailed statement that it was "unconcerned about the Megaupload arrests. In the statement, RapidShare says it operates in a more transparent way than Megaupload, and says the site is 'absolutely legal.'"
Whether or not that turns out to be the case, not everyone will be upset over the demise of Filesonic, to say the least—you can almost hear the cheers of porn producers whose sphincters seize at the very thought of the pay-per-download model. But there are also a significant number of people who will make complaints, similar to those levied at SOPA and IP Protect, that the actions of the U.S. constitute an illegitimate overreach of its authority.
For the time being, however, the follow-the-money strategy that has served global law enforcement so well in fighting other global criminal schemes is thus far making it that much easier to act decisively when the targeted behavior—in this case, illegal uploads and downloads of copyrighted content—is monetized so directly.
"The sites that are in trouble are those that try to boost visitor numbers by offering financial bonuses to those who upload files that prove particularly popular, a tactic used by both Megaupload and Filesonic," wrote John Lister on Tech.Blorge. "The big problem is that it’s as close to a guarantee as you can get that the most popular files will infringe copyright, and prosecutors believe that this financial link is enough to go beyond plausible deniability and constitute a crime on the part of the site owners."
According to Lister, making that financial link a crime will "make a major difference to the piracy scene," and has for all intents and purposes already rendered the disingenuous use of that link—"paying for online content such as newly released porn but immediately uploading it to a filesharing site and then publicizing the link"—dead.
File sharing will not go away, Lister concludes, but "file locker sites may well only be used by people who are genuinely going to the hassle of obtaining and uploading content out of the goodness of their heart and a belief that there’s a moral duty to give as well as take when it comes to piracy"—a scenario, he predicts, that will result in the imminent "great porn drought of 2012."
One assumes he is referring to a drought of free/stolen porn. Can you hear those cheers?