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US shuts down Megaupload


Te US Department of Justice (US DoJ) has forced file-sharing website Megaupload to shut down aſter charging those responsible for it with running an international criminal enterprise that committed online piracy on a massive scale.


Te US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia indicted Megaupload Limited and Vestor Limited, Megaupload’s founder Kim Dotcom (who is also known as Kim Schmitz and Kim Tim Jim Vestor), and six other individuals, on January 5.


Te case was brought aſter an investigation involving law enforcement agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


Led by Dotcom, the group has operated a website that unlawfully reproduces and distributes infringing copies of copyrighted works, including movies, music and television programmes, on a massive scale, according to the DoJ.


Te group used an elaborate business model that promoted uploading popular and copyrighted content for millions of users to download. It also offered rewards to users who uploaded popular content and encouraged them to publicise


Megaupload through linking sites so that it did not itself have to advertise the website.


Dotcom was arrested in New Zealand and is currently awaiting extradition to the US. He was released on bail on February 22 aſter spending more than a month in custody.


As part of the case, arrests were made in nine countries, including the US, and approximately $50 million in assets were seized. Te district court also ordered the seizure of 18 domain names associated with the group.


Charges against the two corporations and seven individuals include engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement. Further charges were added on February 16.


Te individuals could each face up to 50 years in prison if they are found guilty of the charges.


In response to the US DoJ’s actions, online activist group Anonymous launched a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the US DoJ, FBI


and the Motion Picture Association of America websites. DDoS attacks involve automated networks of computers bombarding websites with requests until they are forced to shut down.


In a statement that is attributed to the group, Anonymous said: “We Anonymous are launching our largest attack ever on government and music industry sites. Lulz. Te FBI didn’t think they would get away with this did they? Tey should have expected us.” n


8 World Intellectual Property Review January/February 2012


www.worldipreview.com


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