The US Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have shut down file sharing site Megupload.com. In one of the largest criminal copyright cases in US history, seven individuals responsible for operating Megaupload.com and their associated companies, Megaupload Limited and Vestor Limited, have been charged in the United States with engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement.
Its founder ‘Kim Dotcom’, 37, and three employees, have been arrested and appeared in court in New Zealand, where Dotcom lived. Though the company is based in Hong Kong and Dotcom was living in New Zealand, some of the alleged pirated content was hosted on leased servers in Virginia and that was enough for US prosecutors to act.
Dotcom is a resident of Hong Kong and New Zealand and a dual citizen of Finland and Germany. He had his name legally changed from Kim Schmitz
Prosecutors accuse the four defendants of facilitating millions of illegal film and music downloads, costing copyright holders at least $500 milion in lost revenue.
Chris Dodd, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), said that by all estimates, Megaupload.com was the largest and most active criminally operated website targeting creative content in the world. “This criminal case, more than two years in development, shows that law enforcement can take strong action to protect American intellectual property stolen through sites housed in the United States. Similar tools are needed to go after foreign-based websites that threaten the livelihoods of the 2.2 million hardworking Americans whose jobs depend on the motion picture and television industry, and the millions of others who produce creative content in this country,” he asserted.
He applauded the US Justice Department, the FBI and the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Agency at the Department of Homeland Security for leading the investigation.
“Infringing content on megaupload.com and its affiliates is available in 20 languages, targeting a broad global audience. The site generated more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and cost US copyright owners more than half a billion dollars,” he noted.
Hacker organisations, on learning the news, mounted revenge denial of service attacks on the DoJ site, which confirmed it was down for several hours.