Megaupload, the popular file-sharing site, has been shut down by Federal prosecutors in the United States and apparently the sites founders have been charged with violating piracy laws. This whirlwind of news has just blown in after Megaupload and many other companies blacked out their websites yesterday to protest anti-piracy legislation acts SOPA and PIPA, laws which would grant the government the ability to block sites like MegaUpload from the internet, that are currently being considered by Congress. Kim Dotcom, Megaupload founder, and several other company executives were arrested today in New Zealand at the request of the US government under provisional arrest warrants. The charges include “engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering, and 2 counts of substantive criminal copyright infringement. In addition to the current arrests, the US Department of Justice has issued more than 25 search warrants in the US and several other countries, seized more than $50 million in assets located in the US, Netherlands, and Canada and seized more than 18 domain names associated with Megaupload.
The US Department of Justice’s complaint alleges Megaupload, Kim Dotcom, and a list of executives as being accountable for $175 million in “criminal proceeds” and “a half a billion dollars in harm to copyright owners.” The DOJ cites them for using Megaupload as a conspiracy website that promoted uploading of copyrighted work and used and incentive based uploader rewards program to launder money. The US has gone all out in this venture and they have received the support of many countries including New Zealand, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Germany, Canada, UK, Australia, and the Philippines. We feel both surprise and fear in what is to happen in the coming weeks as these events unravel and how they will affect SOPA and PIPA.