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Megaupload And The Twilight Of Copyright

Publication Date: 
July 23, 2012
Source: 
Fortune Magazine
Author: 
Roger Parloff

Professor Paul Goldstein spoke with Roger Parloff of Fortune Magazine about the recent Megaupload case and how, at least in the world of academia, free use is favored more widely over a more protective view.

Until recently Megaupload was one of a number of lucrative businesses known as cyberlockers, which are the latest generation of operations created in the image of the original Napster--the pioneering file-sharing service that launched in 1999 and was shut down by court order in 2001. In January an Alexandria, Va., federal grand jury charged Megaupload and seven top officials with a racketeering conspiracy focused on aiding and abetting criminal copyright infringement. The government alleges that the defendants, led by Kim Dotcom, a.k.a. Kim Tim Vestor, made $175 million from a business built on facilitating the illegal distribution of at least $500 million worth of copyrighted movies, music, television shows, books, images, videogames, and software.

Cyberlockers--others include Rapidshare and Hotfile--make money by selling both advertisements and premium subscriptions. The subscriptions enable users to download or stream files more quickly than free users can.

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In academia today, says Paul Goldstein, a copyright scholar at Stanford Law School, "those who favor free use outnumber by at least an order of magnitude, probably a couple orders of magnitude, those of us who take a more [protective] view."

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...(Disney fought for the extension, but its officers have denied that Mickey Mouse was the motivation, and some scholars say the contention never made sense. "Mickey is protected in perpetuity by trademark law, says Stanford's Goldstein. It wasn't that.") ...