A day after the Internet was all up in a tizzy over two anti-piracy bills, PCMag reports that popular file sharing host Megaupload has been shut down. Forever. A total of seven people and two corporations were indicted earlier this month, with charges ranging from copyright infringement conspiracy to conspiracy to commit money laundering. If found guilty, involved parties are looking at up to 50 years in the clink.
The nefarious seven – Megaupload Limited founder Kim Dotcom, Megaupload chief marketing officer Finn Batato, co-founder and CTO Mathias Ortmann, programmer Bram van der Kolk, graphic designer Julius Benko, head of business development Sven Echternach and programmer Andrus Nomm – have been accused of generating more than $175 million in revenue while causing $1 billion in damages. Content like movies, music, TV shows, e-books and software were all said to be hosted by Megaupload and its affiliate sites, an operation that had been going on for more than five years.
In addition, Megaupload is being accused of providing financial incentives to users who uploaded content for traffic driving purposes. "The conspirators allegedly paid users whom they specifically knew uploaded infringing content and publicized their links to users throughout the world" according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). And even when Megaupload was encouraged to delete copyright infringing user accounts, the website failed to do so.
"For example, when notified by a rights holder that a file contained infringing content, the indictment alleges that the conspirators would disable only a single link to the file, deliberately and deceptively leaving the infringing content in place to make it seamlessly available to millions of users to access through any one of the many duplicate links available for that file," the DOJ said.
The timing of this is significant because of the recent SOPA/PIPA controversy, and the shutdown actually provides an example of why the two bills aren't needed. With international cooperation and existing laws, the FBI was able to crackdown on piracy the two bills are actively trying to prohibit. In any case, the piracy issue is one that needs to be addressed, so the coming months will be interesting as the issue continues to be fleshed out.
Update: Hours after it was announced Megaupload was shut down for good, hacker collective Anonymous has retaliated against a multitude of websites, including the Department of Justice, RIAA, MPAA and Universal Music.