BACKGROUND: One day after the Internet staged a massive blackout to protest Congress's Internet censorship legislation (SOPA/PIPA), the United States responded by seizing millions of ordinary user files hosted on the popular website Megaupload.com.
With an aim of shutting down Megaupload and other Cloud-based hosting services (like Dropbox, YouTube or even your email provider), the government is trying to claim website operators should face decades in prison for the misdeeds of some of their users. But while they pursue trumped up criminal charges against the companies' founders, they are shutting down dozens of websites, and leaving ordinary Internet users without any way of retrieving their files.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak called the case against Megaupload a "threat to innovation." Wozniak likened the Megaupload site to a highway and those who shared pirated movies and songs to speeding motorists. "You don't just shut down the whole street because somebody is speeding," he said.
Numerous laws on the books already give copyright holders plenty of avenues to stop actual infringement, but that's not enough to satisfy Hollywood's lawyers and lobbyists. The prosecutor in the case, Neil MacBride, previously served as the Anti-Piracy Vice President of the Business Software Alliance, where he represented the intellectual property interests of countless multinational corporations.
Now Hollywood's lobbyists, represented by the Motion Picture Association of America, want him to make it nearly impossible for ordinary Internet users to get their property back.