Megaupload.com workers indicted for piracy

Update: It would seem that some online weren’t happy with the Department of Justice’s actions. News sites are reporting now that the group Anonymous attacked the DOJ site, as well as the websites of Universal Music, RIAA and MPAA.

The Associated Press reports today that workers at the file sharing site Megaupload.com have been indicted by federal prosecutors in Virginia. Its founders and other employees are accused of costing media companies more than $500 million in lost revenue from pirated movies and other content.

“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,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a written statement.

According to the indictment, Kim Dotcom, Megaupload Limited, Vestor Limited, Finn Batato, Julius Bencko, Sven Echternach, Mathias Ortmann, Andrus Nomm and Bram van der Kolk are charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering, as well as computer-based criminal copyright infringement and aiding and abetting copyright infringement. (The last two are not the exact names of the charges, but they are long and you can read them for yourselves at the link.)

Dotcom, Batato, Ortmann and van der Kolk were arrested today in New Zealand at the request of the United States, according to the DOJ. The others remain at large.

The document says that the defendants were members of the “Mega Conspiracy,” which it calls “a worldwide criminal organization whose members engaged in criminal copyright infringement and money laundering on a massive scale.” The conspiracy’s reported income was more than $175 million.

Megauploads.com was at one point the 13th most popular site on the Internet, has more than 180 million registered users and accounts for approximately 4 percent of the Internet’s total traffic.

All this comes on the day after numerous websites either shut down or added messages for their readers protesting the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Acts moving through Congress — an online protest that included Megauploads.com.

According to the AP, the Hong Kong-based file sharing site had the support of numerous artists and content-producers. Its CEO, musician Swizz Beatz, is married to Alicia Keys.


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