Cyberlockers reacted quickly to Friday's Justice Department action against Megaupload Thursday. While the arrests and shutdown of Megaupload has alarmed some people, major content owners must be warmed by the events' chilling effects.
Filesonic and Fileserve each withdrew their affiliate program and barred third parties from downloading files, according to TorrentFreak. As a result, files can only be downloaded by the person who uploaded them to the service. In other words, Filesonic and Fileserve now act more like personal online lockers than file-hosting sites.
VideoBB and VideoZe have also closed their affiliate programs, according to reports. Uploaded.to has banned all U.S. I.P. addresses, a self-induced action that mimics the way an anti-piracy bill like SOPA would cut off the site from U.S. users. A message at Uploadbox says the service is no longer available and all files will be deleted by January 30.
The sudden spate of voluntary actions recalls the chilling effect of the Supreme Court's decision in MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd in 2006. Not long after that decision, file-sharing services such as eDonkey2000 and Kazaa met their demise. File-sharing services' once-rampant online marketing dried up. LimeWire held on for years but lost its legal battle in October 2010.
The Justice Department's actions against Megaupload have stoked fears that similar services would be intimidated into scaling back their services or shutting down for good. The USA Today talked to a few Internet experts who worried Internet commerce would be disrupted. "If legitimate content is housed on the same service that might have infringing content, it gets sucked into this vortex and it's gone," said Dennis Fisher, an Internet security blogger at Threatpost.com. "I don't know how much the government or these companies have thought this through. I would guess not a lot."
But not everybody shares that sentiment. "I like that they're policing themselves suddenly," Projekt Records' Sam Rosenthal wrote of file-hosting services in an email. "This tells me that they knew all along their site was a haven for illegal activity."