It's been less than a week since Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom was arrested and the file-sharing site seized, and we've already seen a wave of reaction, with one competitor disabling its own sharing functionality and hacker group Anonymous attacking the RIAA, Universal Music Group, and others. Now it's time for the PR battle, with attorneys from RapidShare and Megaupload using comparisons to services like iCloud and YouTube to defend their respective sites in two recent interviews.
Speaking with Fast Company, RapidShare's Daniel Raimer points out that the basic technology of uploading and downloading a file is the same for RapidShare and Megaupload as it is for Dropbox or Apple's iCloud. File sharing isn't the problem, he says; it's the business motivation behind it that's a cause for concern, and that's where RapidShare is in the clear. "The main difference is, what exactly is your business model? Are you aiding piracy? Is your intent to make money by attracting pirates and getting attention from copyright pirates?" Touting RapidShare's repeat-infringement policy and quick response to copyright violaitons as proof of its anti-piracy bona fides, he makes a point of saying that the company is "definitely aiming for legitimate use," even while acknowledging that RapidShare is "facing more illegal content than others."
Megaupload's US attorney Ira Rothken strikes a different tone in an interview with Ars Technica, decrying the use of force in Dotcom's arrest and implying that the government did not go through proper channels when dealing with the site. He suggests a DMCA takedown notice followed by a civil suit would have been the correct course of action, pointing to Viacom's lawsuit against YouTube as a reference point. "Whatever allegations that they can make against Megaupload they could have made against YouTube," he said. Of course, in recent years YouTube has implemented extensive audio and video fingerprinting to help protect copyrighted material.
With public sentiment having had such a tremendous impact on the recent debate over SOPA and PIPA, we imagine we'll be seeing more of this type of jockeying for popular opinion in the coming months. As for Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom himself, his legal travails are just beginning.