MasterCard May Sever Ties with File Sharing Sites

Pulkit Chandna

RIAA and MPAA are pulling out all the stops to suck the life out of  file sharing sites like Megaupload and Rapidshare. Initially, they pinned their hopes on the contentious Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), a bill that seeks to prevent credit card companies and payment processors from rendering their services to sites actively associated with infringing activities.

But with COICA effectively lying dead in the water ever since it was blocked by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), the powerful trade organizations have turned their focus to goading payment processors, ISPs and, ad networks into abandoning sites that aid piracy.

While their pressure tactics are bound to face resistance, recent reports indicate that credit card company MasterCard not only supports COICA but could even go as far as voluntarily severing ties with rogue sites in absence of any legal obligation. In fact, MasterCard recently signaled its intent by stopping payments to WikiLeaks. But the mere possibility of such a move is enough to elicit a sharp response from Megaupload.

In a statement sent to ZeroPaid , Megaupload stressed that it’s actually “a legitimate business operating within the boundaries of the law” that has never been sued for copyright infringement. The company also downplayed the financial value of its relationship with MasterCard, even suggesting that should the credit card company cease payment processing for the popular  file sharing site, “they will have a problem not us.”

Megaupload made it very clear that it isn’t too pleased with MasterCard’s activist zeal: “Are payment processors trying to become the legislature of the new decade? Will it be them, rather than elected governments, who decide what’s right and what’s wrong? Will ballots be replaced by wallets, will people cast their votes by choosing a conservative or a liberal credit card? First WikiLeaks, then cyberlockers – what’s next, and where will it end? Will you no longer be able to settle your ISP bill by MasterCard, as your carrier of choice may profit from copyright infringement?”

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