The FBI have taken down MegaUpload.com and charged seven individuals and two corporations, Megaupload Limited and Vestor Limited, with piracy related charges. The FBI, allege that MegaUpload was “running an international organized criminal enterprise allegedly responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works”.
The FBI said “the estimated harm caused by the conspiracy’s criminal conduct to copyright holders is well in excess of $500 million. The conspirators allegedly earned more than $175 million in illegal profits through advertising revenue and selling premium memberships”. The indictment alleged that MegaUpload failed to removed content that was pirated by leaving “access through any one of the many duplicate links available for that file” when content was removed. MegaUpload also allegedly encouraged users to upload “infringing content” by paying users.
The FBI say they worked with assistance from law enforcement in New Zealand, Hong Kong, London, the Netherlands, Canada and Germany and with authorities from Australia, Canada and the UK. The seven individuals were from across the world with citizens of Germany, Slovakia, Denmark and Estonia. Law enforcement are believed to have seized around $50 million worth of assets, with 20 search warrants executed. 18 domain names have been seized stemming from a U.S. District Court order.
Anonymous, hacking group, have started a hacking spree branded OpMegaupload. Anonymous have so far taken down BMI, MPAA, RIAA, Universal Music and Justice.gov. AnonymousIRC said in a tweet that around 1500 people were involved in an IRC conversation.
MegaUpload has previously been endorsed by artists including Will.i.am, Kanye West and Snoop Dogg in a video that was controversially taken down by Universal. In the Megaupload song, creators boasted that the website had 50 million a day and accounted for “4% of the internet” and previously in October 2011, MegaUpload was labelled as a “rogue” site by MPAA.
The full indictment has been made available on Scribd.