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File sharing sites change policies after Megaupload shutdown

By Andrea Drac
On February 5, 2012

The Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect-IP Act, bills created in the House and Senate respectively and aimed to combat online piracy, have both been shelved according to an article on washingtonpost.com. Still, even without those bills, piracy is still being combated on the internet.

On Jan. 19, Megaupload, a major file sharing site, was shut down by the FBI and its owners were charged with copyright infringement, according to an article on PCMag.com. In addition, PC Mag said they were also charged with "conspiring to commit money laundering, and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement. If convicted, those involved face up to 50 years in prison on all charges."

The money laundering charge comes from Megaupload being accused of illegally profiting off of copyrighted content that was put on their website and distributed to other websites through links; content such as movies, music, books, TV shows and software.  However, Megaupload was not just a haven for copyrighted content.

"MU was a great source for sharing files that were not under copyright," junior and broadcasting major Bob Anderson said, stating he did not agree with the FBI closing the site down. "Sure, there may have been copy written material on there, but isn't there copy written material everywhere? I think the FBI took down a good source of file sharing on the net."

Anderson said he has used Megaupload at times to download CDs of local indie bands when they would give out the link.

But downloading files is becoming harder to do since Megaupload's shutdown. According to an article on PCMag.com, other file-sharing sites such as FileSonic have stopped file-sharing altogether and allowing users to only download the files they have uploaded themselves. FileSonic, along with similar sites like Fileserve, FileJungle, UploadStation, 4shared and FilePost, have shut down their affiliate programs, which is a program in place to pay users for uploading anddownloading files.

The site uploaded.to has also been blocked to U.S. users that want to access it, with a statement that says, "Our service is currently unavailable in your country. Sorry about that."

Computer engineering major Ahmad Alkad said he was surprised when he read about Megaupload's shutdown, and says they have gone too far with changing policies. Meanwhile, Anderson is understanding of the changes.

"I can't blame them really; they are just making sure they don't have a government raid on their system," Anderson said.

According to the PUC website, if students are downloading copyrighted files on the computers, they are notified of it from an outside organization such as FOX, stating there was copyright infringement during use of the PUC network.. The website also states that PUC is able to identify the student doing the downloading from tracking down the IP address that was mentioned in the infringement notice. From there, the student's access to the PUC network is disabled and the Office of the Dean of Students sends a letter to the student to attend a disciplinary hearing with a student conduct administrator, where they are asked to sign a contract to delete the infringing file(s) and not do it again. The student's access to the network then returns.

Alkad said that online piracy hurts artists, but at the same time, things are changing with everyone doing everything on the internet.

Anderson agreed by stating that "Piracy has been going on since the dawn of the internet. I believe that the internet was an anarchist state, and will always continue as such. There's always going to be piracy."

For more information on what happens to students who illegally download on campus and for links to legal downloading sites, visit http://webs.purduecal.edu/deanofstudents/academic-integrity/copyright-student/.


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