What will happen if SOPA passes through Congress? Is the FBI going to come after us? Should I shut down my whole system? If you run one of the various popular file hosting services, these might just be a few of the thoughts running through your head lately.
With Internet protests against SOPA and the arrest of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, there is no telling what will come next.
Many web-based storage companies have come out and publicly opposed Internet piracy. Mediafire CEO Derek Labian, for example, has publicly stated his website is legitimate and doesn’t support illegal fire-sharing. “Like many other cloud-based sharing services like Box.net and Dropbox, we’re a legitimate business targeting professionals.”
A quick Google of “Mediafire mp3” plus various song names, however, still found numerous high quality download links for popular songs – all for free and presumably unlicensed.
Other websites have sharply curtailed operations. File-sharing website FileSonic posted a banner on their website explaining it’s partial shutdown. “All sharing functionality on FileSonic is now disabled. Our service can only be used to upload and retrieve files that you have uploaded personally.” In other words, users can still use it to save and retrieve their own files, but sharing publicly is now nixed.
The question for file storage websites comes down to this: Do they continue to look the other way and continue to allow pirated material to be stored on their website or do they take a stand and control the content coming in? And can this currently shady underbelly of the storage world turn legit before its wiped out by legal threats?
At least some companies will continue to run their sites without fear or anxiety for now. A spokesperson for Rapidshare spoke after the Megaupload arrests, “File hosting itself is a legitimate business, so we’re not concerned or scared about the raid.”
Should they be concerned? Only time will tell but if their caught, they will have a lot of explaining to do.