One of the largest online file-sharing sites on the Internet was closed down by the US Justice Department today.
The site, Megaupload.com, is being accused of hosting pirated movies and other copyrighted content. The Justice Department reports that the site has cost copyright holders over a half a billion in lost revenue, and earned the company over $175 million in criminal proceeds.
Megaupload’s service allowed users to upload files, and provided a unique URL for each file that could be given to others to download the files. Unregistered users could upload files up to 2 GB for free, registered users could upload up to 200 GB, and premium (subscription-based) users have unlimited storage. Megauploads earned revenue from both the subscriptions and through advertising sales on their sites.
The Justice Department is charging the owners and staff of the company with knowingly operating an international organized criminal enterprise.. According to a release from the Justice Department, this is one of the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the US.
Megaupload runs a variety of related sites which are also unreachable as of this evening, including Megavideo.com, Megalive.com, Megapix.com, Megabox.com, and the porn site cum.com.
One of the strange things about Megaupload and the piracy charges is that just last month, Megaupload published a music video “The Mega Song” with artists Snoop Dogg, Kayne West, will i. Am, and Alicia Keys endorsing the company. Keys husband, Kasseem Dean, is Megaupload’s CEO.
Surprisingly, Dean, the CEO, was not one of those indicted by the Justice Department today. Seven others were indicted, four of which were arrested today in New Zealand. Three remain at large.
The indictments come one day after an online protest was conducted by many large websites in opposition to SOPA and PIPA anti-pirating legislation being considered in Congress.