In the wake of last week’s Megaupload shutdown, some of the biggest names in the market are taking drastic action. During the last 48 hours many sites have completely withdrawn their systems for paying uploaders when their files are shared with others, but one of the most dramatic moves came first from Filesonic and today Fileserve. Both services now forbid people from downloading any files they didn’t upload themselves.
While the shutdown last week of Megaupload and the arrest of its founder and management team was certainly dramatic, a situation of perhaps even greater gravity is beginning to emerge.
Over the past 48 to 72 hours, the operators of many prominent cyberlocker services have been taking unprecedented actions that can not simply be explained away by mere coincidence. The details in the Megaupload indictment clearly have some players in the file-hosting world spooked.
One of the key allegations is that between 2005 and mid 2011, Megaupload ran a program that rewarded users for uploading infringing material. A cited internal email allegedly shows staff members discussing cash payments going to people uploading “full popular DVD rips” and “software with keygenerators (Warez)”.
Although Megaupload stopped paying out rewards in July 2011, that didn’t stop the site from getting raided. Other cyberlocker services are clearly hoping they will be more lucky.
Last evening Filesonic, a top 10 player in the file-sharing world with a billion pageviews a month, not only withdrew its affiliate rewards program, but also banned any third parties downloading files. Simply put, users can now only download files from the service that they uploaded themselves.
But according to reports, there’s no guarantee of that. Account owners report that their files are being mass deleted, that’s if their entire account has been banned already.
Fileserve, another leading player, also ended its affiliate program this weekend. Additionally, this morning TorrentFreak received news that Fileserve has now joined Filesonic in banning all 3rd party downloads.
“I just paid for a premium account and can now only download my own fucking files an unlimited number of times,” said one angry user. “What use is that?”
Other users of Fileserve are experiencing an even further degraded level of service. Reports describe mass deletion of their uploads and the banning of accounts on apparent ‘Terms of Service’ violations.
But the changes at these two services appears to be just the tip of a very big and very complex iceberg. Developments at other file-hosting services are widespread.
As previously reported, Uploaded.to banned all US IP addresses in what appears to be an effort to distance itself from US jurisdiction. Its affiliate program is still listed as operational but the same cannot be said about those run by some of its competitors.
VideoBB and VideoZer have both reportedly closed their rewards program and according to reports have also been mass deleting accounts and huge numbers of files. Other sites closing their affiliate programs and/or deleting accounts/files include FileJungle, UploadStation and FilePost.
Another interesting development involves so-called ‘release blogs’, sites that report on leaked material but either provide links to the material on cyberlockers or allow their users to do the same. The number of overall releases hasn’t changed much but the links currently being posted on some of these sites show less variety and volume than they did this time last week.