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If feds can bust Megaupload, why bother with anti-piracy bills?

A growing battle over copyright on the internet came to a head this week as digital protests scuttled two anti-piracy bills, police arrested Megaupload's millionaire filesharing pirate, and hackers brought down the Department of Justice website.

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Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (R) appears with other employees in Auckland's North Shore District Court after their arrest January 20, 2012. New Zealand police broke through electronic locks and cut their way into a mansion safe room to arrest the alleged kingpin of an international Internet copyright theft case and seize millions of dollars worth of cars, artwork and other goods.

TVNZ via Reuters TV

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It was almost as if the thrums of digital artillery could be felt across millions of keyboards.

As some of the internet's biggest power players, including Google and Wikipedia, protested two fast-tracked anti-piracy bills going through Congress, the US Justice Department launched an attack on one of the web's biggest alleged scofflaws, Megaupload, and, in a counterattack, the hacker group Anonymous temporarily blacked out DOJ's website.

Techno-pundits and mainstream observers quickly connected the dots between anti-piracy protests and the Megaupload arrests, notching the dustup as potentially the biggest salvo yet in the multi-billion dollar internet copyright wars pitting, in essence, Hollywood and its Washington lobbyists against internet free speech and its hacker protectors.

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“This week has been the week of copyright warfare, but the decision to nuke the king copyright violator so spectacularly only goes to show how little the feds need bigger bombs,” writes Sam Biddle on the tech-scene site Gizmodo.

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