updated 10:30 pm EST, Fri January 20, 2012
Megaupload returns fire after shutdown
Megaupload reacted vigorously to shutdowns and arrests with action of its own. In conversation with Reuters, defending attorney Ira Rothken said Megaupload was "looking at its legal options" to bring its site back online. The lawyer objected to FBI and media industry claims that Megaupload was a criminal conspiracy and said that simply having a file upload service wasn't grounds for the raids this week.
"It is really offensive to say that just because people can upload bad things, therefore Megaupload is automatically responsible," Rothken explained.
Officials have so far used the same argument that they did to get LimeWire to close. While safe harbor principles in the US protect a company from being held responsible for illegal content it didn't know was on its site, the firm loses that protection if a large part of its content is illegal and it doesn't move quickly to clean itself. Megaupload has a reputation for bootleg material, and the company is known to have searched some uploads itself for material its staff wanted, making it impossible for the company to deny that it knew there was pirated material.
Rothken hadn't said whether Kim Dotcom, Megaupload's chief, would try to fight any extradition requests to take him from New Zealand to the US. Although technically relating to a US case, the arrest was conducted by New Zealand police in cooperation with American officials. Dotcom allegedly retreated to a panic room with a gun in hand.
Some sites appeared to be trying to piggyback on the failure, including Megaupload.bz (not currently loading), by mimicking some of the look. It's not believed they're officially endorsed by Megaupload.
The arrests and shutdown have called into question the need for bills like SOPA or PIPA, both of which were shelved indefinitely after massive protests. Portrayed as necessary to curb foreign piracy, they may have lost their momentum among supporters when it was shown that the US could simply get international cooperation in some countries.