(embedded above is The Mega Song, which is apparently a thing that exists)
Yesterday, video streaming and file-hosting site Megaupload was shut down by the US Government. We shed a tear, and share our memories.
We basically grew up in the same town as Megaupload, in a spiritual sense
We've spent a long time with Megaupload – and, more importantly, its sister site Megavideo – over the years. For those of you who don't know, they were a haven for pirates to upload illegal files (and entirely legitimate people to upload entirely legitimate files, too, but no-one used it for that). We haven't always been the cash-rich, gorgeous men you know and love, though. Time was, we used to engage in some fairly dodgy activities.
The year is 2007. Well, actually, the year is 2012, but let's imagine it's five years ago for the sake of the article. Back then, we were at Uni – just starting out, barely able to grow a decent beard1, spending the majority of our time working out excuses for not turning up to class on time while we were a) already pretty late and b) high.
We couldn't afford a TV license, but we still – of course – had our old laptop, a battered veteran of several house moves (just like our toaster and kettle, which have inexplicably made it all the way up until now despite costing around £10 each and being made of plastic and spit2), which performed all the functions of a normal TV but came with porn, too, and not the rubbish TV porn you have to watch during the Freeview bits and fill in the blanks with your imagination afterwards.
The pirate's weapon of choice, after flintlocks and cutlasses obviously
Megavideo was the Mecca for watching stuff online, because they a) didn't give a shit about what they uploaded b) they were really good at what they did and c) they didn't cover the screen in unintelligible Chinese writing. This perfect storm meant that – even up until recently, when it's easier and easier to get hold of stuff quickly, cheaply and legally – Megaupload and Megavideo accounted for a massive 4% of total internet traffic. To put it another way3, if you went into an internet cafe and saw 25 people using computers, one of them would have to be using Megaupload.
NOT ANYMORE IT'S NOT
So we spent a lot of our time watching videos on it, really, is what we're saying. We used Megaupload too, of course, and without it we probably wouldn't have discovered our love for The Black Keys or known that Hot Tub Time Machine is one of the worst films ever released in a cinema. When we were online, searching furiously for the perfect episode of Family Guy to go with the nth joint of the evening, finding one on Megaupload was sort of like finding a present. It was stable, reliable, high-quality theft, and something that we could really get behind.
Imagine how boring marijuana would have been without you
Megaupload, if it wasn't for you, Uni would have been a much more sombre affair. We would have had to sit in our rooms, still high, but just watching the same series of Ulysses 31 over and over again after someone got us the DVD for a joke. We'd never have watched so much Japanese animation, picking one at random because we liked the name – turns out Ultimate Girls featured a giant monster with a train for a dick, who knew – or been able to really appreciate Invaders Must Die4, or ever seen [REC] and really enjoy it but then have to sleep with the lights on, just in case, or – well, a lot of things. Our poverty-stricken life would have been far poorer were you not there.
You were snatched away TOO YOUNG, Megaupload
Sure, you started to get difficult as you grew older, when you instituted an enforced 30 minute break after every 72 minutes of video. But hey. You were probably just looking out for us, right? You were making sure we stretched our legs and went outside every once in a while, which is what any good friend would do.
Fundamentally, is piracy bad? Yes. But is piracy bad enough that we won't do it? Demonstrably not.
We'll miss you, Megaupload. We'll miss your black-market feel, your bright red (and then bright green!) buttons, and your continual adverts for PartyPoker.com. We never clicked on one, you know, but we sure do remember them popping up every time we wanted to watch a video. We're sorry the US justice department had to destroy you. Whether they were right to do so or not isn't for us to say. Whether it was right for Anonymous to start smashing down websites left, right and centre in retaliation isn't for us to say either.
But, anyway, farewell. Goodnight, sweet prince.
1 Some of us still can't, not mentioning any names though
2 To be fair, the kettle has since been reinforced with seven years of calcium deposits
3 An entirely incorrect way
4 The way to really appreciate Invaders Must Die is to put the first track on repeat and then not touch the audio player for, like, an hour, man