7 Charged as F.B.I. Closes a Top File-Sharing Site
By BEN SISARIO Published: January 19, 2012 - nytimes.com
The federal authorities on Thursday announced that they had charged seven people connected to the Web site Megaupload, including its founder, with running an international criminal enterprise centered on copyright infringement on the Internet.According to a grand jury indictment, Megaupload — one of the most popular “locker” services on the Internet, which lets users anonymously transfer large files — generated $175 million in income for its operators through subscription fees and advertising, while causing $500 million in damages to copyright holders.Four of the seven people, including the site’s founder Kim Dotcom, born Kim Schmitz, have been arrested in New Zealand, the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Thursday; the three others remain at large. The seven — who a grand jury indictment calls part of a “Mega Conspiracy” — have been charged with five counts of copyright infringement and conspiracy, the authorities said.The charges, which the government agencies said represented “among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States,” come at a charged time, a day after online protests against a pair of antipiracy bills being considered by Congress — the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, in the House, and the Protect I.P. Act, or PIPA, in the Senate.In response to the arrests, the hacker collective known as Anonymous said it had taken down the Web sites of the Justice Department, the Motion Picture Association of America, and the Recording Industry Association of America. All three sites were inaccessible late Thursday afternoon.The indictment in the Megaupload case was handed down by a grand jury in Virginia two weeks ago, but was unsealed on Thursday, and stems from a federal investigation that began two years ago.The Megaupload case touches on many of the most controversial aspects of the antipiracy debate.Megaupload and similar locker sites, like Rapidshare and Mediafire, are often promoted as being convenient ways to legitimately transfer large files — a recent promotional video had major stars like Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas singing Megaupload’s praises. But they have become notorious among media companies, who see them as abetting copyright infringement on a large scale by giving people easy, but unauthorized, access to movies, music and other content.Megaupload is currently engaged in a lawsuit with Universal over the promotional video and Universal’s efforts to have it removed from YouTube.As part of the crackdown on Megaupload, 20 search warrants were executed in nine countries, including the United States. About $50 million in assets were also seized, as well as a number of servers and 18 domain names, the authorities said.Ira P. Rothken, a lawyer for Megaupload, said in a phone interview on Thursday afternoon that he had not yet seen the indictment, but he added: “Clearly we have due process concerns. This was done without a hearing.”
Feds say 7 behind celeb-endorsed Megaupload.com ran massive, worldwide piracy ring
Published January 19, 2012
Kim Kardashian and other celebrities star in a promotional YouTube video for Megaupload. On Thurs., Jan 19, federal investigators charged 7 foreigners (not including Kardashian or the other endorsers) connected to the site with piracy.
McLEAN, Va. – Federal prosecutors have shut down one of the world's largest file-sharing sites, Megaupload.com, on charges of violating piracy laws -- a day after a 24-hour blackout of popular websites such as Wikipedia drew national attention to the issue.
"This action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States," the Justice department said in a statement about the indictment.
The indictment accuses seven individuals and two corporations -- Megaupload Limited and Vestor Limited -- of costing copyright holders more than $500 million in lost revenue from pirated films and other content. It was unsealed on Thursday, and claims that at one point Megaupload was the 13th most popular website in the world.
Megaupload was unique not only because of its massive size and the volume of downloaded content, but also because it had high-profile support from celebrities, musicians and other content producers who are most often the victims of copyright infringement and piracy. Before the website was taken down, it contained endorsements from Kim Kardashian, Alicia Keys and Kanye West, among others.
The Hong Kong-based company listed Swizz Beatz, a musician who married Keys in 2010, as its CEO. Beatz declined to comment through a representative.
The individuals in the criminal enterprise each faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on racketeering charges, five years for conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, 20 years on money laundering charges and five years on related charges.
Megaupload was led by colorful Australian Kim Dotcom -- aka Kim Schmitz, or Kim Tim Jim Vestor. He is a a resident of both Hong Kong and New Zealand, and a dual citizen of Finland and Germany, who legally changed his last name to "Dotcom."
The website's founder and "chief innovation officer" was once convicted of a felony but has repeatedly denied engaging in piracy, according to CNET.com -- and he made more than $42 million from the conspiracy in 2010 alone, according to the indictment.
A promotional video for Megaupload.com added to YouTube in December 2011 features celebrity endorsements from Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, and other popular musicians.
The indictment comes the day after a 24-hour "blackout" of Wikipedia, a protest doodle on the homepage of Google, and numerous other protests across the Internet against proposed anti-piracy legislation that many leading websites -- including Reddit, Google, Facebook, Amazon and others -- contend will make it challenging if not impossible for them to operate.
The Protect Intellectual Property Act under consideration in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House are bills backed by the motion picture and recording industries intended to eliminate theft online once and for all. S. 968 and H.R. 3261 would require ISPs to block access to foreign websites that infringe on copyrights.
Online piracy from China and elsewhere is a massive problem for the media industry, one that costs as much as $250 billion per year and costs the industry 750,000 jobs, according to a 2008 statement by Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
But how exactly the bills would counter piracy has many up in arms.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/01/19/feds-shut-down-file-sharing-website/#ixzz1jxV8k9V8
THE PIRATE BAY, INTERNETS, 18th of January 2012. PRESS RELEASE, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.
Over a century ago Thomas Edison got the patent for a device which would "do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear". He called it the Kinetoscope. He was not only amongst the first to record video, he was also the first person to own the copyright to a motion picture.
Because of Edisons patents for the motion pictures it was close to financially impossible to create motion pictures in the North american east coast. The movie studios therefor relocated to California, and founded what we today call Hollywood. The reason was mostly because there was no patent. There was also no copyright to speak of, so the studios could copy old stories and make movies out of them - like Fantasia, one of Disneys biggest hits ever.
So, the whole basis of this industry, that today is screaming about losing control over immaterial rights, is that they circumvented immaterial rights. They copied (or put in their terminology: "stole") other peoples creative works, without paying for it. They did it in order to make a huge profit. Today, they're all successful and most of the studios are on the Fortune 500 list of the richest companies in the world. Congratulations - it's all based on being able to re-use other peoples creative works. And today they hold the rights to what other people create.
If you want to get something released, you have to abide to their rules. The ones they created after circumventing other peoples rules. The reason they are always complainting about "pirates" today is simple. We've done what they did. We circumvented the rules they created and created our own. We crushed their monopoly by giving people something more efficient. We allow people to have direct communication between eachother, circumventing the profitable middle man, that in some cases take over 107% of the profits (yes, you pay to work for them).
It's all based on the fact that we're competition. We've proven that their existance in their current form is no longer needed. We're just better than they are. And the funny part is that our rules are very similar to the founding ideas of the USA. We fight for freedom of speech. We see all people as equal. We believe that the public, not the elite, should rule the nation. We believe that laws should be created to serve the public, not the rich corporations.
The Pirate Bay is truly an international community. The team is spread all over the globe - but we've stayed out of the USA. We have Swedish roots and a swedish friend said this: The word SOPA means "trash" in Swedish. The word PIPA means "a pipe" in Swedish. This is of course not a coincidence. They want to make the internet inte a one way pipe, with them at the top, shoving trash through the pipe down to the rest of us obedient consumers. The public opinion on this matter is clear. Ask anyone on the street and you'll learn that noone wants to be fed with trash.
Why the US government want the american people to be fed with trash is beyond our imagination but we hope that you will stop them, before we all drown. SOPA can't do anything to stop TPB. Worst case we'll change top level domain from our current .org to one of the hundreds of other names that we already also use. In countries where TPB is blocked, China and Saudi Arabia springs to mind, they block hundreds of our domain names. And did it work? Not really. To fix the "problem of piracy" one should go to the source of the problem.
The entertainment industry say they're creating "culture" but what they really do is stuff like selling overpriced plushy dolls and making 11 year old girls become anorexic. Either from working in the factories that creates the dolls for basically no salary or by watching movies and tv shows that make them think that they're fat. In the great Sid Meiers computer game Civilization you can build Wonders of the world. One of the most powerful ones is Hollywood. With that you control all culture and media in the world.
Rupert Murdoch was happy with MySpace and had no problems with their own piracy until it failed. Now he's complainting that Google is the biggest source of piracy in the world - because he's jealous. He wants to retain his mind control over people and clearly you'd get a more honest view of things on Wikipedia and Google than on Fox News. Some facts (years, dates) are probably wrong in this press release. The reason is that we can't access this information when Wikipedia is blacked out. Because of pressure from our failing competitors. We're sorry for that. THE PIRATE BAY, (K)2012