Was the Megaupload takedown an attempt to win back Hollywood

first_imgYesterday news broke that the Feds had taken down popular file sharing site Megaupload. One of the biggest file sharing sites on the internet getting taken down would have been big news on any day, but that it came hours after an organized internet protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act is curious, to say the least.Until more facts come in, we’re left to merely speculate about what happened. Of course we know that Megaupload hosted tons of pirated content on its servers, but so do thousands of other sites. The site’s executives claimed that it was operating within the law, and that it complied with DMCA takedown requests. So what happened? And how does this relate to SOPA?It’s possible that this was an attempt by President Barack Obama to play both sides of the issue. Specifically, after taking a stand against copyright industries last week, the Megaupload takedown was his attempt to “honor the other side,” so to speak.In general terms, Obama isn’t a politician who takes a firm stance on an issue, fighting tooth and nail to bring it into fruition. He more often listens to both sides, and tries to find some sort of solution that will make everyone happy. When he does champion an issue — like his health care push during his first year in office — we’ve seen him compromise away its boldest points until the final product is a shadow of what was originally proposed.You could argue that a fiercely divided congress makes this approach necessary, but, even then, it still tells us something about Obama’s leadership style. He can be pragmatic and practical, but an uncompromising combatant he is not.So when Obama sat down with his advisors to discuss SOPA, it’s possible that he took a position as Mediator-in-Chief. This side wants this, and this side wants that: what solution will work for everyone? He looked, first and foremost, at how voters would react. That part was easy: many voters — particularly the all-important independents — would hate Obama for supporting SOPA.Opposing the bill, however, was risky because it painted his administration as an antagonist to the copyright industries. Politicians like big donations, and — particularly in this election year — Obama is no exception. Hollywood was pro-Obama in the 2008 election, and he’s banking on similar support to fend off Mitt Romney (or whoever comes out of the GOP primaries) in 2012.Another factor likely at play is Vice President Joe Biden. Biden is a longtime champion of the copyright industries. From 2002 to early 2009, he sponsored five pro-copyright bills in the Senate, and co-sponsored three more. One of these was the (killed in committee) 2006 Perform Act, which tried to restrict the recording and playback of songs from satellite and internet radio. You could say that, if Biden had his way, it would be illegal for Pandora, Spotify, and Sirius XM to exist in their current states.So Obama looks for a way that he can be strong on copyright issues, while still opposing the politically toxic SOPA and PIPA. Ordering (or “influencing”) the Feds to take down Megaupload — which, next to The Pirate Bay, is probably the website most vilified by Hollywood — would be a good start. Of course, something like this takes weeks to plan (especially with the overseas arrest of Kim DotCom) but the moves could have been ready and simply put into motion at a chosen time.Does this set a precedent? What — or who — comes next? Only time will tell, but the Megaupload takedown won’t quench the bloodthirst that copyright industries have for file sharing.last_img read more