The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted seven people and two companies which ran the file uploading site Megaupload.com. The site, which billed itself as “the leading online storage and file delivery service,” is now offline.
In the indictment, Megaupload and a company associated with it are accused of making $175 million while simultaneously causing approximately half a billion dollars in copyright infringement. Among the indicted are the site’s founder, Kim Dotcom (a.k.a. Kim Schmitz), who holds residency in New Zealand and Hong Kong. Employees Bram van der Kolk, aka Bramos, 29, Julius Bencko, Finn Batato, Sven Echternach, Mathias Ortmann, and Andrus Nomm were also indicted.
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New Zealand authorities arrested Dotcom, Batato, Ortmann and van der Kolk. Officials said they have not yet captured Bencko, Echternach and Nomm.
According to the indictment, the accused are part of “the Mega Conspiracy, a worldwide criminal organization whose members engaged in criminal copyright infringement and money laundering on a massive scale.” They are being charged with participating in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement.
Should they be found guilty, the seven accused could find themselves behind bars for a maximum of 20 years.
The indictment and subsequent arrests come only a day after major websites blacked out and rallies were held to protest SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (PROTECT IP Act), two Internet piracy bills currently under debate in the U.S. Congress.
Some 15 minutes after the indictment, the online hacker group Anonymous tweeted from a Sweden-based account that it had retaliated against the DOJ
One of the website of Anonymous states:
Within minutes of the site being shut down, and DOJ releasing its statement, Anonymous sprang into action and started taking down a ton of sites — including websites for the DOJ, the US Copyright Office, Universal Music, the RIAA, the MPAA and a bunch of other sites.
Anonymous launches largest attack ever, crippling government and music industry sites. Hacktivists with the collective Anonymous are waging an attack on the website for the White House after successfully breaking the sites for the Department of Justice, Universal Music Group, RIAA and Motion Picture Association of America.
Many members of Congress have just changed their stance on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, the raid on Megaupload Thursday proved that the feds don’t need SOPA or its sister legislation, PIPA, in order to pose a blow to the Web.
Tweets From Anonymous:
— AnonOps (@anonops) January 20, 2012
— AnonOps (@anonops) January 19, 2012
Tweet by Anonymous claiming it as the largest Attack:
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) January 19, 2012