Just as the world debates the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) coming into law, one of the biggest and baddest piracy websites has been shut down with accusations that the owners have cost copyright holders over $500 million in lost revenue.
Megaupload and sister site Megavideo were infamous file-sharing and video websites that let users share and watch files, many of them illegal, and many of them movies and TV shows. The sites were shut down by a US government department.
It is reported that the Fed have taken into custody seven individuals, who they say are part of a, “Mega Conspiracy, a worldwide criminal organization whose members engaged in criminal copyright infringement and money laundering on a massive scale”. If convicted, the defendants will face up to 20 years in jail and fined up to $175 million.
The shutdown of the high-profile sharing sites could be in direct response to the mass online protests against the planned PIPA and SOPA anti-piracy bills being debated in the US Congress. The Megaupload site was run by a man called Kim Dotcom and six other individuals.
The FBI said of the takedown, “The estimated harm caused by the conspiracy’s criminal conduct to copyright holders is well in excess of $500 million. The conspirators allegedly earned more than $175 million in illegal profits through advertising revenue and selling premium memberships.”
This is huge news as megaupload was easily one the biggest file-sharing websites on the Internet. Although there re still plenty of others such as Rapidshare etc., the owners of those sites will not be sleeping well, we would imagine.
The site takedown notice comes just after massive website protests against the two piracy bills that are being debated by Congress. Although the acts are supposed to help in the fight against piracy and content theft, many think the powers are too great. Websites such as Google, Facebook and Wikipedia have protested (some with 24hr blackouts) that the internet should remain free and largely uncensored.
Even if the acts are not passed, the shutting down of high a high profile video sharing site shows the intentions of the US Government for the coming year.