U.S. shuts down MegaUpload.com, charges seven, prompting Anonymous hacker attacks
WASHINGTON â€“ U.S. authorities shut down one of the worldâ€™s largest file-sharing sites on Thursday and charged seven people with copyright crimes, prompting hackers to disable the Justice Departmentâ€™s own website.
Megaupload.com went offline as justice officials and the FBI laid out the details of what they described as â€œamong the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States.â€
The founder of the Hong Kong-based Megaupload was among four people arrested for online piracy and crimes that justice officials said had illegally netted them millions of dollars from subscriptions and advertising revenue.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy welcomed the U.S. shutdown of Megaupload, saying the siteâ€™s operators were reaping â€œcriminal profits from the illegal distribution of copyrighted works.â€
â€œThe time has come for increased judicial and police cooperation between statesâ€ in the fight against online piracy, Sarkozy said in a statement.
The site is popular with Hollywood celebrities and it was reported Thursday that Swizz Beatz, a music producer married to the singer Alicia Keys, was its chief executive, and has endorsements from stars such as Kanye West.
Beatz, whose real name is Kasseem Dean, was not named in the indictment.
The charges sparked action from the â€œAnonymousâ€ hacktivist group, who announced in a tweet that they had downed the websites of the Justice Department, Universal Music, and the Recording Industry Association of America.
In a statement, the Justice Department and FBI said the seven people charged were â€œresponsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works, through Megaupload.com and other related sites.â€
They generated more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and caused â€œmore than half a billion dollars in harm to copyright owners,â€ the statement said, by offering pirated copies of movies, TV programs and other content.
The Justice Department said the seven â€œand others known and unknownâ€ had been engaged in an enterprise that enriched its members and associates through copyright infringement and money laundering.
The announcement of the indictment came one day after Wikipedia, Google and other websites staged a protest against congressional legislation intended to crack down on online piracy.
Attempts to access the Justice Department, Universal Music, and Recording Industry Association of America portals failed, following the action by Anonymous on Thursday.
A Justice Department spokeswoman said the downing of its website was â€œbeing treated as a malicious act until we can fully identify the root cause of the disruption.â€
Megaupload Ltd. and another company, Vestor Ltd., were indicted by a grand jury in Virginia and charged with racketeering conspiracy, various copyright infringement counts and conspiring to commit money laundering.
Among those indicted was the founder of Megaupload and sole shareholder of Vestor, Kim Dotcom, 37, a resident of Hong Kong and New Zealand who is also known as Kim Schmitz and Kim Tim Jim Vestor.
The others charged are Finn Batato, 38, of Germany; Julius Bencko, 35, of Slovakia; Sven Echternach, 39, of Germany; Mathias Ortmann, 40, of Germany; Andrus Nomm, 32, of Estonia; and Bram van der Kolk, 29, of the Netherlands.
The Justice Department and FBI said Dotcom, Batato, Ortmann and van der Kolk were arrested on Thursday in Auckland, New Zealand, by local authorities on the basis of arrest warrants requested by the United States.
Bencko, Echternach and Nomm remain at large.
The Justice Department and FBI said $50 million in assets was seized during the operation along with 18 domain names. Attempts to connect to Megaupload.com were unsuccessful on Thursday.
Conspiracy to commit racketeering and conspiracy to commit money laundering each carry maximum sentences of 20 years in prison while five years in prison is the maximum punishment for the copyright infringement charges.
New Zealand police confirmed four people were arrested in Auckland and would face court on Friday following a U.S. request for their extradition.
Officers also seized assets worth $4.8 million including a Rolls Royce Phantom coupe and $8 million in funds had been frozen pending the outcome of legal proceedings.
The police said New Zealand authorities had been working on the case with the FBI and U.S. Justice Department for several months.
Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/shuts+down+MegaUpload+charges+seven+prompting+Anon ymous+hacker+attacks/6023263/story.html#ixzz1k4AzZnCV
to all members who have been uploaded there stuff to this server, please re-upload it to the other file server like 4shared.com and so on. Thank you for your cooperation