File Sharing Sites Scatter after Megaupload’s Shutdown

By Gillian Mohney

Jan 24, 2012 4:26pm

The federal shutdown of Megaupload has other file sharing sites scrambling to cut back on sharing content that could get them into legal trouble.

Torrentfreak.com, a blog that tracks various file sharing sites, has reported that at least nine different websites have made significant changes to the types of files users can upload.  A few sites including Uploadbox.com  and x7.to  are in the process of shutting down entirely, while the website Uploaded.to has blocked all IP addresses originating from the U.S.

Peter Swire, a law professor from Ohio State University and cyber law expert, says that with the shutdown of Megaupload and the continuing discussion of proposed federal anti-piracy laws known as SOPA and PIPA has file sharing websites calculating what they can do to protect themselves from prosecution.

“With Megaupload, the sites have gone from cool to criminal all at once,” said Swire. ” Sites thought they were operating a [file sharing] site, now they might be operating a criminal site.”

Many file sharing sites are also reportedly abolishing controversial “rewards” programs that give financial incentives to users who post the most downloaded content. A rewards program utilized by Megaupload was cited as proof that the company encouraged users to pirate copyrighted material.

“The copyright laws punish people who willfully contribute to copyright infringement,” said Swire on the end of reward programs. “The new measures make it look less willful.”

Aside from the digital changes, these websites might be making a few real world moves as well.

Swire believes that after the New Zealand government worked in tandem with the U.S. to take down Megaupload, other file sharing sites will look for countries where they can base their websites and remain safely exempt from U.S. prosecution.

A new file sharing site titled Anonyupload.com is purportedly based in Russia and the Ukraine. It  is soliciting donations  to buy servers and other equipment.

Aiming to follow in Megaupload’s digital footsteps, the site’s homepage put up the following statement in support of Megaupload’s flamboyant owner, Kim Dotcom. “Thank you DotCom for the past years of services. We hope you’ll be released as soon as possible. Try to not make that amount of money next time, and it should be alright.”

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