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Friday, January 27, 2012

MegaUpload Shutdown By FBI, Owners Arrested

Last week was indeed sad time for online freedom: shockingly enough, MegaUpload, one of the largest file-sharing websites throughout the world, has been shut down by the Federal Bureau Of Investigation based on charges of infringing copyright laws. This happened just one day after hundreds of websites protested against new US anti-piracy legislation named SOPA by doing a “blackout”.

The U.S. Justice Department indictment reads that MegaUpload, as well as its affiliated sites, generated revenues of over $175 million annually from advertising. In addition, it also read that because of the copyright infringement, the damages caused by the service reached $500 million. The leaders of the service have been convicted with five counts of copyright violation and conspiracy. Now the founders of MegaUpload face a sentence of twenty years in prison on the charge of racketeering, 5 years for money laundering and 5 more years on each of the substantive charges of criminal copyright violation. Four of the service leaders, Dotcom (the founder), Batato, Ortmann and van der Kolk had been taken into custody last week in Auckland, New Zealand, by local police. Meanwhile, three others (Bencko, Echternach and Nomm) are still free.

The file-sharing service has been supported by many celebrities, musicians and even producers. Just before being seized, the site contained endorsements from such celebrities as Kim Kardashian, Alicia Keys and Kanye West. Once the FBI seized MegaUpload domain name, the infamous hacker group Anonymous reacted to the move and compiled and published a file containing personal data about MPAA’s employees and US Democratic Party leaders and their families. The data was released, as usual, through Pastebin.com, as well as a list of the sites the hackers planned to attack next. In addition, the group under the Twitter name of @YourAnonNews claimed they managed to shut down FBI’s official site in response to MegaUpload being shut down. The tweet warned that 15 minutes after the government took down MegaUpload, Anonymous could take down government and record label websites.

The hackers emphasized that MegaUpload had been taken down without SOPA being law. The questions now are why they need this law in the first place then and what will happen if it passes. Apparently, the web as we know it will end in this case. 

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