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MegauploadA day after the Internet was abuzz with protests of the proposed SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy bills, the Department of Justice took a major action against many of the top executives of Megaupload, a popular file-sharing site that the government says was the basis for an “international organized criminal enterprise allegedly responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works”. Prosecutors revealed indictments against seven people, all of whom are foreign nationals, as part of the case. As a result of the indictments and shutdown of Megaupload, Anonymous retaliated with a series of DDoS attacks against sites owned by Justice, Universal Music and the Motion Picture Association of America.

All of the men charged in the case were indicted in the U.S. but are citizens of other countries. The men charged in the case include Kim Dotcom, a resident of Hong Kong and New Zealand; Finn Batato, Sven Echternach and Mathias Ortmann, all of Germany; Julius Bencko of Slovakia; Andrus Nomm of Estonia; Barm van der Kolk of the Netherlands. The indictments allege that Dotcom, the founder of the company, and his associates were engaged in large-scale copyright infringment by allowing users of Megaupload to share videos, music and other media that are protected by U.S. copyright laws.

Four of the men–Dotcom, Batato, Ortmann and van der Kolk–were arrested in Auckland, New Zealand, Thursday and appeared in court there Friday morning. The others have not yet been found, Justice officials said. As part of the operation, law enforcement officials in the U.S. and several foreign countries served a series of search warrants that resulted in the seizure of what the Justice Department estimated as $50 million in assets belonging to company or the indicted executives.

“According to the indictment, for more than five years the conspiracy has operated websites that unlawfully reproduce and distribute infringing copies of copyrighted works, including movies – often before their theatrical release – music, television programs, electronic books, and business and entertainment software on a massive scale. The conspirators’ content hosting site, Megaupload.com, is advertised as having more than one billion visits to the site, more than 150 million registered users, 50 million daily visitors and accounting for four percent of the total traffic on the Internet,” Justice Department officials said in a statement.

The indictment alleges that the defendants failed to terminate the accounts of users who uploaded infringing content and only selectively complied with orders to remove that content from their servers when they were notified of an infringement.

The Megaupload site is currently offline and within minutes of the announcements of the indictments and shutdown of the site Thursday, members of Anonymous launched a DDoS attack against one of the Justice Department’s sites, as well as sites run by the Univeral Music Group, Recording Industry Association of America and MPAA. The RIAA and MPAA have been vocal supporters of the SOPA anti-piracy bill, which has been the target of widespread protests and criticism this week. A large number of sites, including Wikipedia, went dark on Wednesday in protest against the strict measures in the proposed bill.

Megaupload is based in Hong Kong, but has servers in several places, including Virginia, where the case against the executives is being prosecuted. The men were indicted on Jan. 5 in Virginia, and have been charged with engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement.

Dotcom, the founder of Megaupload, has gone by a number of names over the years, including Kimble, Kim Schmitz and others. He was arrested in Thailand and charged with insider trading in Germany in 2002 and eventually was given a fine of 100,000 euro and a suspended sentence.

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Categories: Government

Comments (18)

  1. Anonymous
    1

    Finally, the federal government has stopped all copyright infringement. We can rest easy knowing that will never happen again.

  2. Anonymous
    2

    The SOPA and PIPA proposals are the continuing  effort to further limit the access and control of the Internet by our present Washington administration to control all aspects of our lives.  The list of their odious achievments continue to grow like wild Marijuana in the fields of Kansas.


  3. Anonymous
    5

    Between this takedown and the recent deportation of a British citizen to the US to face copyright charges, it sounds like the feds have all the legislative firepower they need without PIPA/SOPA. I can think of no reasonable excuse for these lobbyist inspired bills to continue.

  4. Anonymous
    7

    boohoo im a big baby i didn’t get what i wanted big babies Department of Justice pooboo head

  5. Mad B
    8

    Why aren’t they spending their time and the tax payers money on catching rapists, murders, child molesters,  and wall street thieves.  protecting people and families who are one step away from being on the street..  this is the war on drugs redux. 

     

     

  6. Anonymous
    9

    There’s no serious effort to prevent copyright infringement per se.  Amazon will cheerfully let someone else sell your eBook with either your name or a substitute name and/or title and cover.  Seizing the cash was probably the motive, in addition to pleasing the Hollywood moguls.

    If Americans were halfway intelligent, they would be boycotting all Hollywood’s products, including the ‘news’ media that is mainly news of its celebrities.  Many of the new movies for the past ten years are so are remakes of old stories.  I am waiting for Ivanhoe and Adam Bede to be pirated by Hollywood. 

    And if we Americans had half a brain left after our megadoses of aluminum and mercury, we  would boycott all corporate products that we could.  Mom and pop coffee shops, the few privately owned businesses that are left.  Keep the money in town so it comes back to you.

  7. Anonymous
    10

    How many times will Kim Schmitz get away with a slap on the wrists. He has already been exposed as a fraud, embezzler, and criminal or all sorts since the late nineties. Maybe his past will finally catch up with him.

  8. Anonymous
    12

    I personally think that it is a bunch of BS. Don’t get me wrong, I avoid MegaUpload like the plague but holding a hosting company respnsible for what their users put up there is wrong. As for this Schmitz guy, if he is guilty of all of those crimes he should be prosecuted, but if he is not uploading Screenerz, there is nothing to charge him with in relation to the site.

    The criminal actions of our government need to end now. With all of the signatures against SOPA, if our goverment deceides to go ahead anyways, its time they were removed. Government for the people and by the people. Anything else is treason.

    Whats next? prosecuting sites that have a link to a site that has a link to a illegal download? Chips in our wrists and cameras in our homes? Seriously…knock it off our this country is going to tear itself apart.

  9. Anonymous
    13

    I am completely against SOPA/PIPA but I am actually thrilled with the megaupload takedown.  I can’t believe how many people on here think its ok to steal software.  If any of you lazy schmucks ever created anything worth distributing you’d probably change your tune and want your hard work protected too.  Do you think you’re entitled to free songs and software and other products of people’s hard work just because you were BORN???  Get a life, get a job, buy your own shiznit, and do your own work.

  10. Anonymous
    14

    “Copyright infringement is man made.  It really doesn’t exist.”

    What about the purely greed-based notion that gives you a false sense of entitlement to have other people’s products for free?  Is that not a selfish man-made conclusion?

  11. Anonymous
    15

    “Submitted by greg chesney (not verified) on Sat, 01/21/2012 – 12:13am.

    Good for anonymous! I can’t believe this takedown crap is happening in the US.”

     

    Yeah man, ddos-ing and stealing warez is good, whilst protecting other people’s hard work from THIEVES is so very very bad. 

  12. Mad B
    16

    culture should not be for only those who can only afford it.  money and greed is the evil that plagues our society. with patents and copyrights they impede our movement forward as a human race. all for the almighty dollar.  

    resources wasted… all while lining the pockets of copyright and patent lawers, trolls etc. 

    but of course there is many others reasons too,. but it hurts my brain to think about everything that is wrong with the current laws on such things.

     entities that shouldn’t even need to exsist.  since they don’t better the world as a whole.  add nothing. 

    derp

     

     

  13. Anonymous
    17

    So derp, you think theives should be able to steal other people’s work if it increases their “culture”???  Nice excuse.  You speak of freedom as if its all about getting whatever you desire.  How about the freedom from having moochers steal your work?  What about that freedom?  If you want culture, create your own or CONTRIBUTE to society in such a way that you can pay a fair share for the item you desire.  Artists btw, have the FREEDOM to choose whether to do their work for free or not.  If they excercise that FREEDOM, you should honor it instead of being a theif.

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