Government Arrests Megaupload Executives
Department of Justice strikes the heart of the file-sharing service.
Megaupload is on the brink of being shut down permanently, with extreme consequences, after a number of the service's executives were indicted by the Department of Justice in what is "among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States."
Eight key members associated with Megaupload have been charged with criminal copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and engaging in a racketeering conspiracy. Four arrests took place in Auckland, New Zealand this morning, and included Megaupload's director Kim Schmitz, otherwise known as Kim Dotcom.
The accused can face up to 20 years in prison for racketeering, five years for conspiring to commit copyright infringment, 20 years for laundering, and five years on each substantive charge of copyright infringement.
Over 20 search warrants have been issued by the Department of Justice as a result of highly coordinated actions by the FBI with help from New Zealand, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Australia and the Philippines. The government also seized about $50 million in assets and targeted sites, as well as 18 domain names associated with the service.
According to the indictment, the popular file-sharing system is responsible for $500 million in losses to copyright holders and accrued more than $175 million in illegal profits from advertisements and premium memberships.
Megaupload.com has more than 150 million registered users and 50 million daily visitors.