In recent months many people have been baffled by the US Government’s decision to shutdown and prosecute Megaupload.
While the Department of Justice proudly presented the case as one of the biggest criminal cases ever brought in the US, critics claim the Government has gone too far.
Many law experts agree with this assessment and point out that Megaupload is a lot less guilty than portrayed by the authorities.
This weekend Eric Goldman, a Prof. at Santa Clara University School of Law, joined in with his comments. His attack on the US Government is scathing, describing the Megaupload prosecution as a “depressing display of abuse of government authority.”
Siding with Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom who lashed out against the Government earlier, the Prof. claims that the shutdown of the world’s most popular cyberlocker was a gift to the entertainment industry.
“The government’s prosecution of Megaupload demonstrates the implications of the government acting as a proxy for private commercial interests. The government is using its enforcement powers to accomplish what most copyright owners haven’t been willing to do in civil court,” Goldman writes.
“The revolving door between government and the content industry” and the “Obama administration’s desire to curry continued favor and campaign contributions from well-heeled sources,” are the main motivations Goldman cites.
According to the Professor, Megaupload should have never been taken offline. He claims that it’s a modern-day equivalent of the printing press.
“Megaupload’s website is analogous to a printing press that constantly published new content. Under our Constitution, the government can’t simply shut down a printing press, but that’s basically what our government did when it turned Megaupload off and seized all of the assets.”
“Not surprisingly, shutting down a printing press suppresses countless legitimate content publications by legitimate users of Megaupload,” Goldman adds.
In addition, by shutting the site down and arguing that all data can be destroyed, the authorities are destroying evidence and ignoring the constitutional rights of the millions of US citizens who stored data on Megaupload.
“The government’s further insistence that all user data, even legitimate data, should be destroyed is even more shocking. Destroying the evidence not only screws over the legitimate users, but it may make it impossible for Megaupload to mount a proper defense. It’s depressing our government isn’t above such cheap tricks in its zeal to win.”
Professor Goldman continues by pointing out that the Government has to prove “willful infringement” when they want to hold Megaupload accountable for the infringements of its users. This is going to hard, he argues, as Megaupload has several strong potential defenses.
“Whether it actually qualified for these is irrelevant; Megaupload’s subjective belief in these defenses should destroy the wilfulness requirement. Thus, the government is simply making up the law to try to hold Megaupload accountable for its users’ uploading/downloading,” Goldman writes.
In his closing arguments, Professor Goldman points out that actions like the Megaupload prosecution will only make the public more skeptical about the Government’s attempts to control the Internet on behalf of a few multi-billion dollar companies.
“In the end, the Megaupload prosecution demonstrates that SOPA advocates are inevitably going to win. The content owners’ ire toward ‘foreign rogue websites’ combined with the administration’s willingness to break the law, if necessary, to keep content owners happy, leads to lawless outcomes like the Megaupload prosecution and ICE’s domain name seizures,” he concludes.