Megaupload Facing Serious ‘Criminal’ Charges: 7 Indicted, $50M Seized

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For years, file sharing site Megaupload has been hosting copyright files and subsequently fuelling movie piracy. Today, seven people connected to the site were indicted by federal authorities.

The charges laid on the seven indicted were for running an international criminal enterprise centred on copyright infringement on the internet, and include the site’s founder, Kim Dotcom (born Kim Schmitz.) The Megaupload site has been taken down.

Megaupload is an online “locker” service that lets users transfer files anonymously, circumventing individual copyright liability. Other websites link movies and TV series back to Megaupload, which then streams the latest DiCaprio movie or Charlie Sheen TV series directly. It has generated $175 million in revenue from advertising and subscriptions, with its copyright infringements causing $500 million in losses to copyright holders.

The New York Times reports of the seven indicted, four were arrested in New Zealand, with the remaining three operators still at large. The charges include five counts of copyright infringement and conspiracy, and are “among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States.”

The indictment coincides with the controversy surrounding the pending Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect I.P. Act (PIPA). Large websites have voiced their dislike in the acts by ‘blacking’ out their websites for a day, with Wikipedia, DamnLOL and Cult of Mac (to name just a few) donning censored themes, while Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg posted his own statement on his Facebook page.

 

Zuckerberg wrote:

The Internet is the most powerful tool we have for creating a more open and connected world. We can’t let poorly thought out laws get in the way of the internet’s development. Facebook opposes SOPA and PIPA, and we will continue to oppose any laws that will hurt the internet.

The world today needs political leaders who are pro-internet. We have been working with many of these folks for months on better alternatives to these current proposals. I encourage you to learn more about these issues and tell your congressmen that you want them to be pro-internet.

The investigation has been in play for two years and involved 20 search warrants executed in 9 countries. Roughly $50 million in assets was seized, along 18 domain names and a number of servers.

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