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Another website falls in global crackdown against online piracy

German file-hosting site skyload.net is next website brought down for online piracy, following Megaupload and Btjunkie.
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A woman walks past a graffiti made by the shadowy online hackers group Anonymous at the entrance of the French anti-piracy watchdog Hadopi headquarters on January 30, 2012 in Paris. (Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images)

German authorities have raided and shut down popular file-hosting site skyload.net, arresting the sites owner along with another individual who helped provide hosting services to the website, reported German news outlet Heise Online.

Skyload.net, along with several other sites accused of internet piracy and copyright violations have undergone increased pressure from authorities following the shutdown of Megaupload and the arrest of the site’s employees last month.

Both men have been charged with copyright-related offenses and face up to several years in prison if they’re found guilty.

These new arrests were part of ongoing legal actions directed against the moving streaming portal Kino.to which was raided and shut down in June of last year, resulting in the arrest of more than a dozen people in Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands, according to file-sharing advocates torrentfreak.com and Heise Online.

Skyload.net and Megaupload.com have so far borne the brunt of the increased international efforts to stop online piracy and copyright violation. In addition, torrent hosting website The Pirate Bay recently switched its US-based ".org" domain for Sweden based ".se," fearing a crackdown by US authorities. Btjunkie.org, another wildly popular torrent hosting website, voluntarily closed its doors earlier this month after eight years in operation, fearing legal reprisals.

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China and Russia are pushing for greater internet control, via the United Nations

Talks begin in late February that could crimp internet freedoms
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United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki moon of Korea addresses the 63rd United Nations General Assembly September 23, 2008 in New York. (Jeff Zelevansky/AFP/Getty Images)

After the battle over SOPA in the US House of Representatives, “internet governance” is a term that carries with it heavy weight and emotion among online activists and casual users alike.

But later this month, a UN diplomatic process will begin that some countries — notably China and Russia — hope will result in stiff internet restrictions, according to an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal, written by Robert M. McDowell, a commissioner of the US Federal Communications Commission.

McDowell points out that the new system would "upend the Internet's flourishing regime" which protects the web from economic and technical regulation. Countries like Brazil and India, are "particularly intrigued" by the proposals, McDowell writes; he warns that opting out of the current governance regime, established in 1988, could result in a "balkanized" internet.  

Traditionally, the internet has thrived and evolve as a space for free expression and the sharing of ideas, especially where it is free from government regulation and censorship. The current initiative would expand international governance of into areas currently unregulated. 

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, one of the proposed treaty's most enthusiastic backers, has stated the need to establish “international control over the internet."

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EU judges reject latest anti-piracy provision

BRUSSELS, Belgium — European judges have dealt a further blow to those seeking to tighten policing of the internet, throwing out a bit to force social networks to install anti-piracy filters.

After victory over SOPA, the internet is back on the defensive

The FBI has made arrests in New Zealand and the Netherlands, shutting down one of the internet's most popular file sharing sites. A war of words ensues while the internet strikes a defensive posture.
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Two co-founders of the file-sharing website, The Pirate Bay, Fredrik Neij (L) and Peter Sunde, wait on Sept. 28, 2010 at the Swedish Appeal Court in Stockholm. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)

After the widely criticized Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was tabled in the US House Judiciary Committee, US authorities and the recording industry have launched a crackdown on file sharing sites across the globe. In this battle between the internet and US copyright law, there have been casualties on both sides.

The Recording Industry of America (RIAA), with the FBI on their side, is reaching across international borders to bring down file sharing sites and the internet is beginning to take heavy losses. The RIAA has also set out to bring down one of the world’s most popular BitTorrent file sharing websites, The Pirate Bay, after an opening salvo of arrests that took place last January.

"A blatantly illegal file-sharing site, proud that it's an online bazaar of every conceivable U.S. copyrighted work, found criminally responsible by its own country's legal system and who has been ordered by courts in at least seven European countries to be blocked by ISPs, has publicly acknowledged changing its domain name to escape U.S. laws," wrote RIAA Senior Executive Vice President Mitch Glazier in a blog post, beginning a war of words between these internet privateers and the industry interests trying to force them to harbor.

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What is SOPA?

With these bills, the federal government would have the authority to shut down US based websites that offer pirated content, although they won’t be able to do that to foreign sites.
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