U.S. Government Pirates TVShack.net to Share Pithy Anti-Piracy PropagandaBy: Drew Bowling - June 25, 2012
If you’ve tried to go to sites like Megaupload or Ninjavideo or any other file-sharing site that has been seized by the U.S. government, instead of seeing the website you’ll be met with a notice from the government telling you that the site has been taken down. It’s kind of become the “Keep Out” sign that the U.S. Justice Department is hanging on the doors of sites that it seizes. Here’s the one you see over at Megaupload:
A slightly different notice appears for TVShack.net, a site that merely shared links instead of actual content.
While the certificates are slightly different, a greater difference you’ll notice if you linger on the TVShack page is that your browser will be automatically forwarded to an anti-piracy video hosted on YouTube. After approximately 10 seconds, your browser will redirect to this video:
The video player fills up the entire browser window and plays a dramatization of some guy hocking free movies on the street that have been illegally downloaded from the internet. When he finds some takers for the free movies, the street vendor then lays on a guilt trip to the movie-takers by pointing to a woman looking pathetic while holding a boom stick (like you would see on the set of a movie) and tells his “customers” that if they take the movie then they are effectively robbing the woman of a job.
The video was uploaded by the account belonging to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The video itself is over a year old, but this is the first time I’ve seen any of these seized sites serving as a stage for the government to play out its role as anti-piracy marm. I realize it’s one thing to post a notice of why that site has been seized, but is this even legal to use the site’s URL to promote a government content? If Richard O’Dwyer, the student who ran the link-sharing website, still owns the URL www.tvshack.net, hasn’t the U.S. government effectively pirated the URL for its own purposes?
Anybody else noticed these auto-forwarded PSA videos on any of the seized sites? Let us know if you’ve seen this elsewhere in the wilds of the forbidden internet.