Thursday, January 19, 2012

FBI, Feds Shut Down MegaUpload...

by paul

Just this afternoon, the FBI and other US-based law enforcement officials effectively shuttered MegaUpload, while detaining top executives at the company. MegaUpload founder Kim Schmidtz, aka Kim Dotcom, and other top executives at MegaUpload have been arrested for operating what has been billed a massive, infringing operation. At last count, 7 were indicted, with the New York Times reporting that 3 remain at large.

In classic SOPA fashion, the arrests and seizures were made outside of the US, but directed from inside the US. That is, the arrests were made in New Zealand, according to early information, and MegaUpload is a Hong Kong-based enterprise.

The timing couldn't be worse. Just yesterday, sites like Wikipedia and Reddit went dark to protest the over-reaching, heavy-handed aspects contained in SOPA. But now, it's as if that never happened: in this case, US-based enforcement authorities pointed to a long-running investigation and grand jury indictment, though MegaUpload appears unaware of any due process according to attorney Ira Rothken. MegaUpload owner Kim Dotcom has repeatedly pointed to compliance with takedown requests, though Hollywood, the RIAA, and other copyright owners obviously felt otherwise.

As of 1 o'clock PM PCT, the MegaUpload site is down.

Two companies were specifically named in the indictment, unsealed this afternoon in Northern Virginia: Megaupload Limited and Vestor Limited, both of whom were accused of damages exceeding $500 million in pirated films, music, games, and other assets. In its indictment paperwork, the all-powerful Department of Justice noted that MegaUpload was "generating more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and causing more than half a billion dollars in harm to copyright owners."

This is one of the largest federal indictments of its kind, according to the FBI.

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