MegaUpload taken down: first signs of the SOPA/PIPA and its unlimited powers
The American Department of Justice has announced in a joint statement with The FBI that they have taken a major action to shutdown MegaUpload, a worldwide website dedicated to online file sharing. The action, the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States, was conducted after receiving claims of committing copyright infringements and other charges on January 5th.
MegaUpload is a file sharing sites that allows users to store files that can be streamed or downloaded by other users.. Users who uploaded the content on MegaVideo, its subsidiary site popular for providing copyrighted material (TV shows and movies), get paid if their content becomes popular.
The case against the website according to the indictment is that MegaUpload has earned more than $175 million in illegal profits and caused an estimated $500 million in harm to copyright holders. US authorities on Thursday arrested four people and executed more than 20 search warrants in the US and other eight foreign countries, seizing 18 domain names and an estimated $50 million in assets, including servers run in Virginia and Washington, D.C.
In an interview, Ira Rothken an attorney for the website said that he only learned of the actions taken down is in the press release. “Our initial impression is that the allegations are without merit and MegaUpload is going to vigorously contest them,” he said. “We have deep concerns over due process and assets being taken without the opportunity for a hearing.”
The news is sure to be welcomed in the entertainment industry, after a recent setback in their push for the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act. The proposed bills, if passed, would make it easier for US courts to go after piracy sites that, unlike MegaUpload, operate entirely overseas.
The bills is supported by major companies like Sony, Adidas, Coca Cola and Ford and refused by Google, Facebook, Microsoft and others who went black for 24 hours in protest against the bills and others, which plan to do the same. They believe that the bills are heavy handed and would limit freedom of speech on the Internet and unfairly punish legitimate websites.
In a statement, the white house officials announced that they will not support parts of the two bills as they go on through congress.
In response to this, the hacktivist group named Anonymous alleged to have brought down the websites of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).