MegaUpload takedown didn't slow pirate downloads, just moved them offshore

Downloads to U.S. users coming across longer distances, more expensive links

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So, did shutting down MegaUpload cut a big chunk out of the flow of illegal files as pro-SOPA advocates predicted?

No, but the distribution pattern has changed.

Jan. 18, the day of the raid, MegaUpload's MegaVideo was the biggest supplier of video online, with 34.1 percent of all traffic. Its closest competitor was Filesonic with 19.1 percent.

On Jan. 19, the day after MegaUpload went away and Filesonic swore off third-party downloads, Putlocker was the No. 1 source with 27.5 percent of all downloads. NovaMov and MediaFire follow, with less than half that market share.

Big deal? One vendor takes over from another?

Except, that pattern is "staggeringly less efficient" than file sharing was with MegaUpload in place.

Deepfield Networks analyzed the change by looking at the six companies that provide the storage facilities for 80 percent of all the file-sharing traffic on the 'net. (There are hundreds of search-and-index sites for both legal and illegal downloads, but most of the files themselves are housed on disk in data centers run by six major co-location and hosting service companies.

With the shift toward Putlocker, NovaMov and MediaFire, far more of those files are being shared across greater distances than before, because the big three download providers store their data primarily in Europe.

So "instead of terabytes of North America MegaUpload traffic going to US servers, most file sharing traffic now comes from Europe over far more expensive transatlantic links," according to Deepfield.

That doesn't really accomplish the purpose for which SOPA and PIPA were written. At best it may eventually cost heavy consumers of illegal content a bit more in access fees.

Seems like a small impact for such a big project.

Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

Photo Credit: 

Reuters/Nigel Marple

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