FileSonic has disabled file sharing in wake of Megaupload takedown
By: Ryan Paul
Some filesharing sites are reining in their services in the aftermath of the recent high-profile shutdown of Megaupload. FileSonic has disabled all file sharing functionality on its website, restricting access so that users may only download their own files.
Megaupload was a popular file locker service that allowed users to upload files and share them with other users. The FBI pulled the plug on the Megaupload website last week when seven of the company’s top personnel were charged with conspiracy. The 72-page indictment claims that Megaupload willfully distributed pirated movies and other copyright-infringing content.
The law enforcement effort against Megaupload, which was carried out in collaboration with authorities from several countries, has raised questions about whether competing services could face a similar fate. Amid the climate of legal ambiguity, various file locker services have responded in different ways.
RapidShare, which is one of the leading file locker providers, told us last week that they aren’t concerned about a raid. According to RapidShare, legitimate hosting providers have nothing to fear—as long as they comply with requests from rights-holders and don’t turn a blind eye to piracy conducted with their service.
FileSonic, which is another leading file locker provider, is apparently approaching the matter differently. The company disabled its sharing services entirely, potentially reducing its exposure to legal risk. The content hosted by FileSonic is no longer generally accessible to download. Users can only download files that they have uploaded themselves.
It’s worth noting that FileSonic, like RapidShare, already has strong procedures in place to combat piracy. FileSonic uses digital fingerprinting technology from a content identification firm called Vobile to detect copyrighted material on its network and prohibit unauthorized sharing.
FileSonic also responds to takedown requests issued under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by removing pirated content and blocking users who repeatedly infringe. The company has a designated DMCA agent and provides instructions for submitting a claim. They also allow individual users to report abuse.
Despite all of these precautions against piracy, FileSonic is going a step further by disabling its sharing functionality in entirety. When a user attempts to access content that is hosted on FileSonic, the site will display a message which explains that sharing has been discontinued and that only the original uploader can access the file. The company has not yet issued a full statement regarding the change in service.
FileSonic’s decision to voluntarily discontinue its sharing services will likely be welcomed by content industry trade groups, who will undoubtedly view it as evidence that the Megaupload shutdown is generating a deterrent effect. In light of FileSonic’s active efforts to comply with the DMCA and proactively police its own network, however, it also raises the question of whether law enforcement activity against Megaupload is having an unintended chilling effect on legitimate hosting services.