Megaupload was taken down by the FBI (and New Zealand authorities) on January 19, 2012. One of the accusations leveled against Megaupload by the Feds was (is) Megaupload ignored Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) take down requests for pirated content stored on Megaupload servers. As an example, in a document set before a Grand Jury in February 2012, the FBI mentioned: in 2010 Megaupload became aware of about 36 pirated movies on their server but still did not remove those movies by November 18, 2011. As it turns out, this particular example used by the FBI is not what it seems.
In 2010 the FBI was building a case against NinjaVideo, a movie/TV show pirating website that was known for mocking DMCA take down requests. During their investigation, the FBI learned of pirated movies stored by NinjaVideo on Megaupload servers. As such, the FBI served Megaupload with a warrant in June 2010 in regards to these video files.
Because of this warrant, Megaupload did not delete or modify the files in questions because the files were evidence. According to Kim Dotcom, “the [FBI] agent was concerned that the target could be warned and that this needs to be handled confidentially. Obviously when the FBI contacted us they made this clear to us and therefore we did not touch the accounts or the files.”
As cruel karma may have it, it is these same video files that the FBI used in the above-mentioned document of Megaupload’s complacency to piracy; these are the 36 video files the FBI said Megaupload did not delete despite knowing about them. So, essentially, Megaupload’s willingness to assist in the legal process came back to bite them in the butt — literally.
Of course, it should be mentioned that this is only one example in the 90-page “Superseding Indictment” document the FBI presented to the Grand Jury in February 2012. While the FBI may have misstepped this specific time, that doesn’t mean their whole case against Megaupload is flawed. I’m not saying the FBI was right in bringing down Megaupload, nor am I saying they were wrong; I’m saying one mistake on a laundry list of offenses doesn’t necessarily kill a case.
Still, one must wonder: is the FBI’s whole case against Megaupload filled with holes? Or were the Feds justified in taking action against the company? If going off anecdotal evidence, I’d lean more towards the latter — it is hard to deny Megaupload was a heaven for pirated content. However, the question isn’t of if people uploaded content to Megaupload or not; Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects companies like Megaupload from prosecution if they do their due diligence. The question is was Megaupload complacent to the piracy by not taking proper action vis-a-vis DMCA. We may never really, truly know.