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Yesterday saw much of the internet either purposefully going dark (like Wikipedia and Reddit) or black out their logo (like Google and, um, from what I've been told, YouPorn) to bring attention to the horrid piece of legislation that is the anti-online-piracy bill SOPA. And as this graphic from ProPublic.org shows, the tactic seems to have worked: the bill had eighty supporters and thirty-one opponents yesterday. Today those numbers have shifted to only sixty-five for and a whopping 101 against. Democracy in action!
As many have already pointed out, opposing SOPA in and of itself isn't saying that illegal piracy on the internet is a good thing. It's just that the bill, as it stands, is a bit too dramatic of a measure — it's like nuking a house because of a rat infestation. Instead, the conventional thinking is that the best way to handle a problem like that is by hiring some exterminators to make the house habitable again.
Which is why this raid by the feds to shut down file-sharing and online-piracy giant Megaupload.com is a case of perfect timing.
The company, based in Hong Kong, was shut down today by federal prosecutors. During the raid, the seven staff members were charged with various counts of racketeering, copyright infringement, and money laundering. The site's business model was essentially to allow a bunch of illegally-pirated material to be uploaded, then sell memberships and ads to people who want to watch it. And, according to CNET, they certainly did: the site's founder took in $42 million in 2010. That is, in essence, the exact kind of online piracy that needs to be rooted out.