The digital world may be riding high following the high-profile global protests against SOPA and PIPA, but in the real world authorities have just claimed one of the largest piracy scalps.
Late last night the US government shut down Megaupload, a site that allows users to host large files and distribute them easily across the intertnet.
It also arrested the site’s owners, including quasi internet celebrity Kim Dotcom.
Yes, Megaupload itself is a thoroughly decent service, and yes, it could be argued it can’t be held accountable for the actions of its users. But there’s one thing we can’t deny – Megaupload facilitated a huge amount of piracy on the internet.
The FBI and Department of Justice in the US allege that the site’s owners were not just aware of this activity but actively encouraged it, fobbing off lawyers at every turn. The DOJ claims that Megaupload made around $175m in advertising and membership revenue and that damage of over $500m was done to copyright holders.
This is amongst the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States,” the official statement reads. The conspirators allegedly paid users whom they specifically knew uploaded infringing content and publicised their links to users throughout the world.
"As alleged in the indictment, the conspirators failed to terminate accounts of users with known copyright infringement, selectively complied with their obligations to remove copyrighted materials from their servers and deliberately misrepresented to copyright holders that they had removed infringing content.
"For example, when notified by a rights holder that a file contained infringing content, the indictment alleges that the conspirators would disable only a single link to the file, deliberately and deceptively leaving the infringing content in place to make it seamlessly available to millions of users to access through any one of the many duplicate links available for that file."
In retaliation, hacker group Anonymous brought down the websites of The Department of Justice, Universal Music, the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America.