Megaupload file-sharing site shut down


Georgina Ball of Radio New Zealand on the Megaupload court appearance

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Megaupload, one of the internet's largest file-sharing sites, has been shut down by officials in the US.

The site's founders have been charged with violating piracy laws.

Federal prosecutors have accused it of costing copyright holders more than $500m (£320m) in lost revenue. The firm says it was diligent in responding to complaints about pirated material.

In response, the hackers group Anonymous has targeted the FBI and US Department of Justice websites.

The news came a day after anti-piracy law protests, but investigators said they were ordered two weeks ago.

The US Justice Department said that Megaupload's two co-founders Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz, and Mathias Ortmann were arrested in Auckland, New Zealand along with two other employees of the business at the request of US officials. It added that three other defendants were still at large.

"This action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime," said a statement posted on its website.

The FBI website was intermittently unavailable on Thursday evening due to what officials said was being "treated as a malicious act".

The hackers' group Anonymous said it was carrying out the attacks.

The Motion Picture Association of America's website also suffered disruption.

Third-party sites

The charges included, conspiracies to commit racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering.

A federal court in Virginia ordered that 18 domain names associated with the Hong Kong-based firm be seized.

The Justice Department said that more than 20 search warrants had been executed in nine countries, and that approximately $50m (£32m) in assets had been seized.

It claimed that the accused had pursued a business model designed to promote the uploading of copyrighted works.

"The conspirators allegedly paid users whom they specifically knew uploaded infringing content, and publicised their links to users throughout the world," a statement said.

"By actively supporting the use of third-party linking sites to publicise infringing content, the conspirators did not need to publicise such content on the Megaupload site.

"Instead, the indictment alleges that the conspirators manipulated the perception of content available on their servers by not providing a public search function on the Megaupload site and by not including popular infringing content on the publicly available lists of top content downloaded by its users."

Before it was shut down the site posted a statement saying the allegations against it were "grotesquely overblown".

"The fact is that the vast majority of Mega's internet traffic is legitimate, and we are here to stay," it added.

"If the content industry would like to take advantage of our popularity, we are happy to enter into a dialogue. We have some good ideas. Please get in touch."


The announcement came a day after thousands of websites took part in a "blackout" to protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (Pipa).

The US Chamber of Commerce has defended the proposed laws saying that enforcement agencies "lack the tools" to effectively apply existing intellectual property laws to the digital world.

Industry watchers suggest this latest move may feed into the wider debate.

"Neither of the bills are close to being passed - they need further revision. But it appears that officials are able to use existing tools to go after a business alleged to be inducing piracy," said Gartner's media distribution expert Mike McGuire.

"It begs the question that if you can find and arrest people who are suspected to be involved in piracy using existing laws, then why introduce further regulations which are US-only and potentially damaging?"


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  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    @201 That's because this is a terrible and scary thing. I'll list what's wrong here so you can get a grasp of exactly what's happened.
    American law enforcement acting outside it's borders.
    People being extradited for CIVIL OFFENCES
    Thousands of people having their access to their data blocked by the US
    Not so "thin end of the censorship wedge".
    Trumped up charges
    Guilty until proven innocent

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    Just to clear something up, the crime is 'Copyright infringement', not 'Copyright theft'. Theft implies that you have deprived the victim of said object.

    I understand why people take issue with Megaupload indirectly making money from other people's work, but it's worth remembering that film and music industries were founded on making money from what was already in the public domain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    This is just an excuse, seetting a precedent if you like, to shut down the old web including anti-establishment media, so they can bring in their long planned internet2, like a cable box of several thousand globalist approved megasites that would push information that would make Geobbels jealous.

    By the way groverpm that is an excellent point about free publicity, of course it is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    The next person to mention '1984' has to sit in the corner wearing a pointy hat...
    That'll be you then ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    214. If free coverage through piracy whether you like it or not is such a good thing, why so many small-time artists complaining that that it's costing them their livelihoods?

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    Cameron and Miliband are competing over "responsible capitalism" principles. Here is the big chance for one of them to actually do something constructive - yes internet piracy is an issue but on the other side of the coin not as important as the principles of free (in both senses) internet access.

    The US is a great country but when they get things wrong we shoudn't be afraid of saying so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    Corporate idiots trying to control something way beyond their comprehension.

    They also seem to struggle with the concept of free speech.

    May be they should have studied science and humanities at school rather than corporate greed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    So now that MegaUpload has been shut down I guess that means the profits of the media companies will go up. Only they won't. Most of the stuff on Megaupload is simply stuff people would not have paid for anyway. People pirate Photoshop and Microsoft Office. If they are stopped from doing that they will switch to using something just as good but free and open source (ie The G imp & OpenOffice).

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    Let's not forget we're talking about entertainment here... so what we've got is a lot of people who want more stuff than they can afford thinking it's okay to take stuff for free.

    And what about all those names that appear in the closing credits of films. You think they're all rich? What about their families and income? You're stealing from them too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    As I recall back in the stone age, blank audio cassettes had a levy imposed on them which was supposed to partially offset the fact that they could be used for taping music from records and radio. Is this still the case with modern blank recordable media?

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    A sledgehammer to crack a nut. The USA is showing itself to be no better than those countries it criticizes for censoring what information its citizens are able to obtain from the Internet.
    There is a not very cleverly hidden agenda here and it has nothing to do with pirated material available on the net.

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    @deleted I'm with you. I research for everyone's benefit. To be honest if I was writer or director I would be annoyed I was creating content to get some fatcat at MGM or Universal richer. Similarities to bankers abound.

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    If I was to record songs of the radio then royalties I would assume have already been paid therefore I would still have a song but the media has been there for my use.
    Missing a tv show/movie. I could have recorded it on sky+.
    Or missing a film/tv show, by one day, it was there to watch, so use a site to watch what could have been readily available if I was around

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    Luckily, the people distributing content know more about the internet than those trying to stop them. There will always be a way around and the more the authorities publicize pirating the more people know about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    "124.Kent C Strait
    Try having the efforts of your hard work copied and given away for free and see how you like it..."

    If I'd already been paid for it not a problem. In fact I'd encourage it as I'd in effect be having free publicy of my work therefore giving it more coverage than it would otheriwse get. Ergo I'd have more people buying my work. Free Advertising sounds good too me!

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    @30.Francis power:
    I'm sorry to hear that you've been a victim of rape, but you must be absolutely doolally to compare intellectual property infringement within the bloated and over-paid entertainment industry to RAPE. I find that comparison not only laughable and ludicrous, but pretty offensive too. This is simply big business/capitalism doing what it does best, protecting the status quo.

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    175. stranger83

    You're stealing a service from people who have put time, effort and money into music/film creation. You wouldn't take your car for an MOT and drive off without paying for it just because no one lost any physical product.

    It's still theft and it's ignorant to say otherwise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    If I watch a film in the cinema and dont like it can I have my money back? Can I have it on DVD for free or do I have to pay again. If a music artist records a song once why do they get paid over and over again for that one peice of work. Do painters get paid over and over again for a painting being looked at? I think Tom Cruise and P Diddy have had enough of our money and the leeches of the MPAA!

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    The bigger fish to catch is Rapidshare which is based in Switzerland, Fileserve and Filesonic. Hotfile is as good as dead and now this, no doubt some other new filehost will take its place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    It was wrong to shut down Megaupload and these policies are targeting the wrong people. However, too many comments here are people complaining about the pricing of music and film and others simply defending the right to steal because they aren't happy with the standard. It's very sad that there's only a select few who understand the problems with both Sopa and piracy.


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