File sharing sites snapping shut like scared clams in MegaUpload backwash

Filed Under: Data loss, Featured, Law & order

File sharing in the cloudMajor file sharing sites have freaked out, closing down or locking their gates to keep out U.S. IP addresses following the FBI's Megaupload takedown over the weekend.

Since Saturday, when the file-sharing company's founder, Kim Dotcom, was tossed into a New Zealand jail, similar sites have been taking unprecedented steps to avoid a similar fate.

Here's a brief summary of those sites' statuses, cribbed from Lifehacker, Torrentfreak, and The Washington Post:

  • Fileserve – Stopped filesharing. You can only download your own files. Deleting multiple files. Banning Premium accounts. Closed Affiliate Program.

  • Changed server location Jan 22, 2012. Has taken down its Facebook page. Now using Digital fingerprinting. Files are being deleted as soon as uploaded (as Hotfile did).

  • FileSonic – A red banner on the site's main page now informs visitors that "All sharing functionality on FileSonic is now disabled. Our service can only be used to upload and retrieve files that you have uploaded personally."

  • VideoBB – Closed Affiliate Program.

  • Filepost – Started suspending accounts with infringing material (as Hotfile did).

  • Uploaded.to – Blocked U.S. access.

  • Videozer – Closed Affiliate Program.

  • Filejungle – Owned by Fileserve (same as above). Testing USA IP addresses blocking.

  • Uploadstation – Owned by Fileserve (same as above). Testing USA IP addresses blocking.

  • 4Shared – Deleting multiple files.

  • EnterUpload - Down (Redirect).

The FBI instigated the Megaupload raid that's got everybody spooked. The agency is accusing Dotcom of masterminding a scheme that raked in more than $175 million by copying and distributing music, movies and other copyrighted content without authorization.

According to Reuters, Megaupload's U.S. lawyer said the company merely offered online storage, planned to "vigorously defend itself" and was trying to recover its servers to get back online.

Whether or not they come back online, it is clear you should keep backups of important files safely in your own hands and choose your friends in the cloud carefully.

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25 Responses to File sharing sites snapping shut like scared clams in MegaUpload backwash

  1. John Q Public · 980 days ago

    This is utter nonsense. I don't use any of these sites, but it is really unfortunate that the FBI is working so hard to protect the interests of legitimised corporate thievery.

  2. Jim · 980 days ago

    So much for SOPA/PIPA. The FBI accomplished what Reid all the DC socialist gang and MPAA could not without paralyzing the entire Internet.

    • I agree -- If the feds can do this already, why is PIPA/SOPA even necessary?

      Side note: I notice Dropbox isn't in the list.

      • peawee678 · 639 days ago

        PIPA/SOPA would have also included sites like google and sites like facebook. so if your friend posts a copyrighted song on your (facebook) page, ALL of facebook is taken down.

  3. Steve · 980 days ago

    The file sharers startle easily, but they'll be back and in greater numbers.

    • Zeromoniker · 980 days ago

      sounds like a quote from Ben Obi-Wan-Kenobee :)

      Agree though.

  4. payshisway · 980 days ago

    'This is utter nonsense. I don't use any of these sites, but it is really unfortunate that the FBI is working so hard to protect the interests of legitimised corporate thievery'

    The 'legitimised corporate thievery' you speak of, John Q Public, pays the mortgage of the 'small' people behind the scenes of film and music we all enjoy. The people that actually *make* the content. There'd be nothing for you to torrent without them. File sharing often gets romanticised as some latter-day Robin Hood quest to rid the rich movie-stars and executives of money in some 'right on, man' crest of self-righteousness. The truth is that file sharers are the thieves - too tight to pay for goods and they don't see that they are simply virtualised shop-lifters.

    The people that suffer from freeloaders not paying for films and music are the people that actually get the product made.

    I'm pleased as punch these sites are shutting down. Their raison d'etre always was piracy, and any legitimate use was surely in the minority. There are ways to share large files other than these data bins.

    • Paul · 736 days ago

      I think your comments are pretty much on the mark. I don't rent movies or go to the theaters for first run flicks except on the rarest of occasions and manage to survive. I do however use the libraries copies extensively and am a library supporter.

      There is nothing any of us can do in terms of consuming or not consuming to make the fat cats in any industry charge a more modest price and to trickle down to the workers a reasonably proportionate share of the gains on a cinematic effort. The normal contention is that huge gains come with huge risks.

      I do hope that the content makers and processors actually get paid on a regular interval like the rest of us; week to week say, to make ends meet whether the thieves steal from the end profits or not. I'd be curious if you would let us know of movies that are shuttered or stopped because of the economy. Just curious.

  5. Sharpear · 980 days ago

    This is just utter nonsense. What are these people so worried about? A day in jail, when your raking in millions, it's only a minor issue. A disclaimer on your site is enough to take care of what people are fearing from an FBI raid, and most of these sites already have them. These companies are merly a middle man, and it's not the companies, but the people who have been posting up copywritten content.

    These copywritten companies need to be monitoring the site themselves or paying megaupload to hire a staff to do it for them. Not like the copywrite company is already taking millions from people and what is copywritten mean. Nothing important to anyone but in a courtroom.

  6. Greg · 980 days ago

    There is nothing wrong with filesharing as long as the website doing that in some way charges a small fee for accessing the copyrighted material which protects the website owners and the consumer downloading the files. A good example of that was Napster. For example one of those sites charges 99 cents per song which is a minimal amount to collect for a copyrighted original work thus keeping the RIAA and Feds off their backs.

  7. Scott · 980 days ago

    again i say that too much power and money is spent protecting the movie industry.How many pedophile rings ,organised crime ,etc could thay have smashed if the government was protecting people and not buisness men

    • Paul · 736 days ago

      I don't like Hollywood dictating the laws of the land either but, let's put this shoe on the programming foot. You come out with the next great program which you would like to sell, become independently comfortable without having to provide anything additional to your current boss. The only problem is your intellectual property was heisted by someone else and posted for general free consumption ______________ (you fill in the blank). Now you might appreciate the support of someone who can protect you intellectual property.

      Hollywood fat cats, yeah, give them less time. Unfortunately, their political donations (big bucks) will always garner more attention than the little peoples (small bucks).

  8. Pragmatist · 980 days ago

    I do not and have no intention of ever using such a site. my music downloads - 0. I do not have an mp3 player or idevice. I have bought a few DVDs when on sale in the stores for the grandkids. the RIAA would go broke if more people cared less like me. If I cannot listen to it on the radio - I do not listen to it. I have better things to do with my time.
    Digital piracy is illegal, but the music and movie industries have brought it on themselves. I used to be able to tape shows off the air and play them whenever or whever I wanted. I could lend or give the tape legally to a friend to watch as well. Now they try to force us into DVRs where they control what we can watch and where. I cannot use a DVD recorder as all the content has copy protection and the devices will not record it. All this has done for me is good on the side - I now watch only about 3-5 hrs of TV a week. The news and 2-3 programs. I have other activities to pursue. More people need to make this choice rather than steal content. Only then will the industry wake up and see that it must change or risk losing the majority of its intended audience.

  9. Tom · 980 days ago

    I don't see "The Pirate Bay" on that list. With a name like that, you'd think they would be...

    • Paul · 736 days ago

      I don't see You Tube either....... will the questions ever arise about their content? The media moguls can attack anywhere and lawyers love the action.

  10. Dagmar · 979 days ago

    Seems the solution is easy: just move servers out of the US and block US users. The rest of the world can go on as before. So ultimately, this only hurts the US by marginalising it on the internet. Smart move!

  11. Greenaum · 979 days ago

    The whole "piracy = lost $$$" argument relies on the false assumption that downloaders would otherwise have bought the product. Of the many gigabytes I'm aware of people downloading, none of those people would be able to afford to pay for even a tenth of it.

    The RIAA and the like, like to attach a price to each downloaded file, often way more than their actual sales, and then complain as if it's money they'd have otherwise made. It's bullshit.

    The problem is, entertainment industries in the past have relied on vast distribution networks, with acres of middlemen (what's the collective noun for a middleman?), raking in tons of money that doesn't go to the artists and producers who made it. These people no longer have a useful function, so they're all pissed off and blaming the Internet.

    Often, the more heavy-handed someone acts, the wronger they are. Downloaders are ordinary people, practically EVERYBODY has downloaded files of one sort or other. This is big corporatism vs ordinary people, but since they can't arrest half the population, they go after easy targets and hope to frighten the rest. Can you think of any previous governments that have used tactics like that?

    • Paul · 736 days ago

      No, but they can corral us into paying fees because we have become accustomed to the downloading ease. There are alot of old songs I sure as heck would not pay .99 for but would like to have in a lossy format. Having any money coming in for otherwise valueless music is what capitalism is all about. It has (SOME) value to SOMEBODY.

  12. ralahinn1 · 979 days ago

    Not all the share sites are gone, and I hope they are never completely taken out of the US, because then we will be in the dark ages. You don't need a file share or even a computer to make and distribute illegal Discs anyway, so people will still sell them for 1 or 2 dollars out of the backs of cars. Good luck stopping that. Anyway, even pirates have pirates:

  13. Doctor Logic · 978 days ago

    This action by the FBI has just killed off "Cloud Computing" by showing how easily you files stored on a remote internet server can be cut off.
    Anyone using "Apple", "Google" and any of the other "Cloud" services should take this very seriously.
    It is as sure as Murphy' Law that the day you really need to access your files they will not be available.
    Be safe store your files on a portable hardrive and don't keep them in th public domain where anyone including "Big Brother" can mess with them and deny you access.

  14. Banquo · 972 days ago

    With so much rhetoric and fist pounding my the larger media companies, the whole concept of "file sharing" as a whole has become demonized. There are still plenty of people out there who think that torrent clients are illegal. The idea that a file can be shared without breaking the law is becoming unfamiliar or even unbelieved.

    Blocking a access to your own files stored in cloud services is just one manifestation of a larger problem. As someone who likes obscure bands, I once seeded an album that I ripped from a CD .It was from a Wisconsin band that had disbanded in 2001. I had express permission from the artists to do this. Out of all the times I mentioned this, only only once did I not get a comment that went something like: "you can get into trouble for that"....despite the fact that it was perfectly legal.

    The whole "the pirates are costing us money" tantrum is played. The fact that they pocket so much of the money that was earned off the work of the artist they claim to represent, and that they are willing to do piss off the entire internet community with SOPA/PIPA to protect their interest is too much. No one is going to give these clowns money just because they can't download free content anymore. I buy used CDs and DVDs these days anyway.

  15. Madhatter1379 · 965 days ago

    I live in brazil (im an american) and a lot of people here really cant afford $25 CD's cause $25 could feed a family of 4 members for a month and still have money left over. A lot of people here have to torrent there music files since there really aren't any real shops to buy legit CD's (and the very few are located near airports/main cities). If if wasnt for torrenting then these people would never buy a CD or DVD. Ive talked to many artist (some local, some super stars) and all have agreed they rather have people be able to enjoy their works of art even if they cant pay for them cause they live in remote places or because of the government instead of people from all over the world not being able to enjoy the artist music or performance.

    The real Theives are the Music industries who are in a uproar cause they didnt make a 50 billion profit but just made a 47 billion PROFIT. Like people above me said, not all ''pirated'' material were gonna be bought to begin with, a bit reason why people use torrents and file host sites is because people couldnt afford the things to begin with. IF people really enjoy the work of someone ofcourse they would buy and support but with the high cost of such materials and how the exchange rate of money is music, movies, books, games, and anything in between really are out of reach for many people to ever afford. Now the argument arises about how those are just wants and not needs (they dont need them in order to live) but that hasnt stop the human nature from wanting things and getting them regardless if its legal or illegal and the proof is in our history for thousands of years.

    • Paul · 736 days ago

      I think the music and video industries could afford to provide subsidized copies to countries like this particularly. The way it is done with pharmaceuticals. Also, possibly Hugo Chavez will provide some additional subsidies.

      I exist in an economy in the states here where I cannot afford to buy what I would like either, but I still can't condone ripping someone off (even the fatcats) because I am a have-not .

  16. Pakistani · 888 days ago

    I hate this shit deciion by FBI or whatever nonsense, but this will again come to life internet is free and file sharing also should be free. The cost of software is huge, so many can't afford it. So think about it first.

  17. Melissa · 775 days ago

    What people don't realize is that even legally buying music/ebooks online is a facade. Despite paying money for a product you believe you now own, you essentially "rent" the item. If Apple, Amizon etc decided to or "accidentally" deleted/closed/lost your account, you're S.O.L.

    Example: http://boingboing.net/2009/11/08/ebook-license-ag...
    And here's this charming story of a kindle user: http://consumerist.com/2011/07/who-ate-my-amazon-...

    Here's Steams EULA: http://store.steampowered.com/subscriber_agreemen...
    Which boils down to "... a limited, terminable, non-exclusive license and right to use the Software for your personal use in accordance with this Agreement and the Subscription Terms. The Software is licensed, not sold. Your license confers no title or ownership in the Software."

    EA Origin (if they decide to ban you): http://tos.ea.com/legalapp/eula/US/en/ORIGIN
    "No refund will be granted, no Entitlements will be credited to you or converted to cash or other forms of reimbursement, and you will have no further access to your Account or Entitlements associated with your Account or the particular EA Service"

    So no, I have no sympathy for an institution that is intentionally screwing it's customers.

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About the author

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.