In the wake of the crackdown on the file-sharing website Megaupload, sites offering free content-sharing, file linking and digital locker services such as RapidShare, SoundCloud and Dropbox could be next in the crosshairs of anti-piracy authorities.
Many digital locker services which are clones of Megaupload are around. RapidShare and MediaFire are two of the biggest services left after Megaupload's exit. However, these sites have undergone a revamp and now provide only links to pirated content. They no longer host pirated content that could lead to a permanent ban.
Others in the line of fire are DropBox, iCloud and Amazon S3 that support hosting any file a user uploads. Though their intention of supporting open file-sharing is legitimate, there is really no control over the type of content being uploaded. With massive pirated content being uploaded online every day, these sites are in grave danger of facing bans if content filtering is not done.
Then there is SoundCloud - one of the largest music library collections on the web. The problem is with the copyrighted material also being uploaded on its site. A 50 Cent song is also listed in the Justice Department's copyright allegations against Megaupload (General Allegations, Section 6).
It appears the trick is to maintain a low profile. Megaupload was the thirteenth most visited site on the internet.
MegaUpload's fall could prompt smaller sites like GrooveShack and SoundCloud to aim for bigger market shares. Bit Torrent capitalised on Napster's exit while PirateBay took over Supernova.org's spot after the latter shut down in 2004.
PirateBay has already moved to magnet links and abandoned hosting torrent files completely.
In this context, one may recall game developer Valve's Gabe Newell's popular quote: "Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem." Users often flock to sites like MegaUpload, TVShack, and in the past, Napster, as they offer better functionality and convenience.
Netflix, RDIO, MOG and Spotify, all charge a fee for quicker access (faster download speeds) to the same material that can be downloaded freely. People with time constraint do not bother to download illegally. These services thrive because they offer the utmost in convenience.