File Sharing Site Megupload Is Shut Down By The U.S. Government

The U.S. government didn’t even need SOPA or PIPA on Thursday, as it shut down Megaupload.com, a file-sharing site wiith 150 million registered users and about 50 million hits daily. So now where will celebrities go to download their own movies, music and TV shows?

According to the Associated Press, the U.S.’s indictment says the founder, Kim Dotcom, made $42 million off the site. It functioned as a kind of host for files too large to email, and boasted endorsements from famous faces like Kim Kardashian, Alicia Keys and Kanye West, among others. Musician and Key’s husband, Swizz Beatz, was listed as the site’s CEO. He’s not part of the indictment, however.

Before it was shut down Thursday, Megaupload posted a statement calling the piracy allegations “grotesquely overblown.”

“The fact is that the vast majority of Mega’s Internet traffic is legitimate, and we are here to stay. If the content industry would like to take advantage of our popularity, we are happy to enter into a dialogue. We have some good ideas. Please get in touch.”

Even though Dotcom lives in New Zealand and the company is based in Hong Kong, some of the alleged pirated content was hosted on leased servers in Virginia, which was what enabled U.S. prosecutors to act. Dotcom and three of his employees were arrested on Thursday as well, “on U.S. accusations that they facilitated millions of illegal downloads of films, music and other content, costing copyright holders at least $500 million in lost revenue.”

The Justice Department isn’t happy with people who’ve downloaded content that may be illegally pirated stuff, but they say they’re just focusing on those running the site instead of punishing individual users.

The shutdown came just one day after many Internet communities and sites, including Wikipedia, Reddit and others, either blacked out their content or restricted it to protest anti-piracy acts SOPA and PIPA.

Popular file-sharing website Megaupload shut down [Associated Press]

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  1. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    Interesting timing.

  2. dolemite says:

    It’s interesting how corporations have turned our government into profit enforcement agents. Perhaps we could save some taxes by simply allowing MPAA and RIAA to pay their salaries instead of taxpayers doing so. We already have lobbyists writing our bills…I’m not sure how Congress deserves their pay for simply rubber stamping it.

    • sagodjur says:

      “I’m not sure how Congress deserves their pay for simply rubber stamping it.”

      They’re earning far more in campaign contributions and revolving door job offers than they make off of their taxpayer-funded salaries.

  3. Kuri says:

    There’s a key difference here, at least to me.

    For this to happen, the US government did the footwork, and there were actual investigations before anyone was arrested.

    If SOPA/PIPA had passed, there would have been no investigation, period..

  4. JennyCupcakes misses her grandson says:

    Oh Dotcom. This never would have happened to Grizz.

  5. areaman says:

    That’s good. I’m sure Tower Records will start to reopen all their closed stores and more. LOL

    • Kuri says:

      And re-hire all the people they laid off?

      Damn, that must have been a good joke in their board room.

    • Straspey says:

      Hmm…let’s see…

      * Being able to browse through every CD in the catalog

      * The opportunity to listen to samples of all the latest releases for free.

      * Knowledgeable staff who knows their area of expertise, as well as their repeat customers.

      * Rubbing elbows and chatting with other like-minded aficionados who share your particular musical/video tastes.

      Hmmm…where did I used to do that just about every week ?

      Oh yeah – now I remember – a place called “Tower Records”.

      btw – While browsing the shelves of Tower some years back, I became involved in a conversation with a very beautiful young lady who shared my tastes in music – and we ended up spending the next year or so sharing a few other things as well.

      • sagodjur says:

        “and we ended up spending the next year or so sharing a few other things as well.”

        Cooking recipes? Library books? STDs?

        Don’t keep me in suspense!

      • theduckay says:

        * Being able to browse through every CD in the catalog – Itunes, Amazonmp3

        * The opportunity to listen to samples of all the latest releases for free. – Itunes, Amazonmp3

        * Knowledgeable staff who knows their area of expertise, as well as their repeat customers. – Why do you need staff to tell you what music to listen to? I never even spoke to the staff when I used to go music stores.

        * Rubbing elbows and chatting with other like-minded aficionados who share your particular musical/video tastes. – Well, I wouldn’t randomly speak to strangers in music stores (or anywhere), but this, also, can easily be done on the internet.

        • sagodjur says:

          Not to mention:

          In a music store, you’re limited to that one store’s inventory. The internet has thousands of music sites from around the world.

          The internet has thousands of music-discovery/suggestion sites with new and interesting ways to find music beyond the humanly-limited knowledge of “knowledgeable music store staff.”

          The internet has many free and professional music playing programs to cover any of your possible 21st Century music-listening needs.

          The internet is much more convenient for finding live concerts of your favorite bands than looking at concert tour posters at the music store.

          You can buy all the physical merchandise online that you can find in a music store, often for a better price and decently priced or free shipping.

          If you were that annoying guy who liked to be overly social with strangers at the music store, you can now just run your own music blog and leave the rest of us alone, and no, your favorite obscure band is not actually that good.

  6. StarKillerX says:

    Supporting sites that blatantly support, and profit from, piracy will push more and more people to support SOPA type laws.

    • Greg Ohio says:

      Yep. Mega and Pirate Bay prove that there is a real problem with piracy. The shutdown of Mega prove that real piracy can be fought without SOPA.

      • StarKillerX says:

        True, but it could also be used as an example from the other prospective because if it takes a large multination investigation to shutdown a site that blatantly supports, and profits from, piracy then how will we ever deal with the huge number of smaller and/or less blatant sites?

        Also when people and sites that speak out against SOPA type laws also show support for sites like megaupload and pirate day they in fact become their own worst enemies as they alienate the very people they want to convince to support their cause.

        • Chmeeee says:

          So large investigations are a bad thing in your view? Should we be saving money by shutting things down and arresting people with no investigation, just running on assumptions?

          • StarKillerX says:

            Your completely ignoring what I said and trying to twist it to suit your own agenda, simply put I said that some people might as that if it required a large multinational investigation to shutdown a site which blantantly looked to encourage and profit from piracy what would it take for sites that aren’t as greedy and actually try and make it appear that this isn’t their goal?

            Now on top of that those same people will see people and sites, such as this one, show their support for a site like megaupload while decrying SOPA, and as I stated it could turn many away and end up in their supporting, or at least not opposing, bills like SOPA.

    • pop top says:

      Didn’t Megaupload also host completely legitimate files as well? Why throw the baby out with the bathwater?

      • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

        This is why I, personally, am very unhappy about this takedown. I (and many others of my acquantance) used MU for completely legal and legitimate uses (primarily for sharing audio files that we had created, eg podcasts and podfics). I agree that piracy is wrong and stealing is bad, but how does one create an ad-supported file sharing/swapping site without running the risk that some people will do things they shouldn’t? I’m actually far more in favor of going after those who were doing the uploading of pirated content.

  7. remusrm says:

    do any of you realize this are not US citizens, and US law does not apply for them, this is kidnapping, really

    • Greg Ohio says:

      ‘Servers were in Virginia…

    • Veeber says:

      The US didn’t send agents in to kidnap them. New Zealand agreed that there was a reasonable case and arrested them based on our treaties. They have a lot of equipment here in the U.S. as well. I think it would be a different story if they had no U.S. connections.

    • Unclaoshi says:

      Well they had leased servers in the US as the article stated. If a crime is committed in the US by a non-citizen they can still be arrested. They probably had the help of Interpol and worked with whatever country they were arrested in. Its not like they flew a black ops mission into the country to secretly arrest them. If another country is willing to arrest and extradite them back to the US it is far from kidnapping.

    • Rainicorn with baby bats says:

      I lol’d.

  8. DJ Charlie says:

    I was reading over the indictment papers last night, and found this very interesting…

    Page 26, Section 61:

    “…purposefully did not provide full and accurate search results to the public…”

    So any website that doesn’t have a 100% accurate search engine on it is illegal now?

  9. Fast Eddie Eats Bagels says:

    I guess they had to make an example out of someone a day after the SOPA and PIPA blackouts.

  10. PlumeNoir - Thank you? No problem! says:

    I was following this on Ars Technica last night, and it’s really interesting – as MU seems to have a lot stacked against them and they are not as innocent as they seem.

    But why was Swizz Beatz untouched? No evidence against him, I presume.

    Yeah, this is going to be really interesting to watch how it plays out.

    Now, if only TPTB behind all the other corrupt corporations had ticked off the RIAA/MPAA, maybe things would be a bit brighter. /s

  11. Snowblind says:

    *blink*

    And not a word about how Anonymous is fighting back, shutting down the websites of the DOJ, RIAA, and MPAA?

    I mean, the take down of MU is day old news as it is, the retaliation was known by 5PM EST yesterday.

    The internet survives on people playing nicely. The DOJ is not, and they are about to find out what happens.

    And it will not be pretty.

  12. mbz32190 says:

    Meh…Demonoid is still better :P MegaUpload sucked to download anything (even legal stuff like product drivers, etc).

    • homehome says:

      Actually if the name of the place you use for files is well known (megaupload, demonoid, piratebay) you not only run a higher change of getting caught adn fined, if you’re gonna do it, at least do it to industries the gov’t doesn’t care about.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        At the same time, the ones most known are the ones you run a significantly less likely chance from getting files with tracking tags or otherwise being caught. The well-know ones are the ones people have found to be safer to use.

        Catch-22 I guess.

  13. E-Jungle says:

    They confiscated about 630 servers hosted by Leaseweb here in NL

  14. Darsynia says:

    From what I understand, the site was shut down because they were considering a plan (or had started to implement it) where they would partner with artists who aren’t signed to a contract–MegaUpload would have provided a place for them to sell / share their music, taking a small % of the profits.

    A lot of folks at slashdot think that the RIAA called in some favors and the feds shut the site down.

    • DarthCoven says:

      After what UMG did with MU’s music video, this does not seem all that far fetched.

    • StarKillerX says:

      Yeah, that had to be it, I’m sure it had nothing to do with the 100’s of terabytes of pirated material they were profiting from.

      Nope it couldn’t be that it has to be some vast conspiracy!

  15. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    So, is this business actually got legit actions, other than the alleged illegal ones? If the MPAA and RIAA aren;t involved in the company, what part of file sharing is legal?

    • PlumeNoir - Thank you? No problem! says:

      Driver downloads. I’ve heard some companies host their patches on MU. Also, personal pics and vids that one has created and owns.

    • jvanbrecht says:

      MU is a locker style site. You cannot search teh site for files, rather you need to know the exact URL which includes a unique identifier that the person who uploaded the document knows, and provides to his friends or whomever.

      MU is used heavily by developers over at XDA Developers for distributing legal custom made roms for Android (and in the past Windows Mobile).

      The problem that MU has currently, is that they lost their DMCA haven status when internal emails were discovered that documented the employees/owner knew about the piracy, and acknowledged that it was making them money, even though they supposedly complied with DMCA take down notices they received from copyright owners.

    • Darsynia says:

      Essentially, MU was supposed to be a site to facilitate file sharing on sizes too large to transmit over e-mail. You want to send Grammy Smith the pictures of her grandchildren but the files are too big to e-mail? Host them on MU and go over to her house to download them for her so she can double click on the folder on her ancient computer and coo over them. Stuff like that.

  16. pop top says:

    It’s good to see the government going after such dangerous, harmful criminals.

    • The Black Bird says:

      “It’s good to see the government going after such dangerous, harmful criminals.”

      In addition to letting the people in the banking industry get away with causing much more damage than the $500 million, or so, that Megaupload supposedly cost copyright holders.

      While I am against piracy I am also against these fucking corporations taking over our country while most of our elected officials kiss the corporate asses of whoever lines their pockets.

      It’s time for the people to take back what is ours. I would like it to be done through voting but it may be too far gone for that to happen in our lifetime, if ever.

  17. kc2idf says:

    Also, Anonymous appear to have retaliated. http://rt.com/usa/news/anonymous-doj-universal-sopa-235/

  18. Matthew PK says:

    I am completely against SOPA/PIPA.
    This takedown has nothing to do with SOPA/PIPA. There was a long investigation and a ruling by grand jury. MegaUpload was guilty of directly and deliberately profiting from the traffic of copyrighted material.
    They discussed internally how they would obstruct legitimate takedown requests, how they would reward active uploaders of such content and how they themselves would take illegal content for personal use.

    There is no safe harbor for those who intentionally and knowingly traffic in such content. What’s more, the lowest-paid web dev at Megaupload made over a million dollars a year.

    This is a legitimate takedown.

    • JustMe2011 says:

      Keep telling yourself that. When push comes to shove, Obama’s administration is doing what the entertainment industry demands, which is no surprise as he’s bought and paid for by them (and banksters and the like). The end result is the exact same as SOPA, with government acting as an enforcer. The only thing this is doing is testing the waters to show Americans that they won’t do a single thing to really stop the government.

      But keep acting as an Obama propaganda spouter if that’s what brings meaning to your life.

      • DarthCoven says:

        Have you actually read any of the facts on the case or are you just going to continue frothing at the mouth and slamming your forehead on the keyboard?

        • DariusC says:

          Nope. Not a word, like most of the people in suport/opposition of the bill. Everything is word of mouth with no references. Still, SOPA sucks and this guy is supporting government censoring of sites without a hearing or trial. The guy may be a crook, but he certainly doesn’t deserve 55 years in jail for providing a service that users enjoyed (150 million of them) and took advantage of. This is like me posting illegal porn on your site and then sending the cops after you to shut it down. This means there can be stunts set up to frame people for crimes they didn’t commit. Dangerous. Very Dangerous!

      • Matthew PK says:

        The government *is* the enforcer of law. In fact, they are the *primary* enforcer of law.

        SOPA has nothing to do with legitimate takedown of clearly illegal practice. SOPA is a problem, in fact, because it has *no teeth* against illegal sites which isn’t already in place but instead threatens legitimate users who may inadvertently associate with such content.

        Read the court docs. This was handed down by grand jury. Megaupload was in clear and deliberate violation of law and they profited immensely from that. Kim Dotcom has a long history of illegal activity and fraud as well.

        You do not strengthen your anti-SOPA position by opposing legitimate enforcement of law.

        • StarKillerX says:

          Excellent, and accurate post.

          Personally this takedown is showing the lie behind may posters oposition to SOPA, I lost track of how many times over the last couple weeks people have been posting/ranting that SOPA was taking content away without any legal rulings. Fast forward 24 hours and we have a site taken down due to a official investigation and grand jury hearing and many of those same voices are being raised against it.

          Seems to me that much of the opposition to both SOPA and this shutdown appears to be centered not around the loss of freedom and people claim but around the loss of freebees.

  19. JustMe2011 says:

    Well, looks like people holding out hope that their Messiah Obama would do the right thing have yet, again, another of his lies to defend. This comes as no surprise to those of us who know of his plans to just go around Congress and rule like a dictator, but the Obamaites are still left in stunned surprise frantically justifying everything in their mind. Bush was blamed for everything that happened under his watch, and since I detested him as much as I do any other corrupt politician, I’ll hold Obama to the same standard.
    At some point, Obamaites will see reality, but it’s a shame it hasn’t happened yet.

  20. u1itn0w2day says:

    Hmmm, shutdown withOUT a shutdown law. Hmmm, able to get a site shutdown that wasn’t part of a process handed to them on a silver platter.

  21. vliam says:

    This action only proves that further legislation is unnecessary and redundant.

    In this instance, unlike the warrant-less wiretap debate, they can’t resort to arguments about the need for immediacy. That is, unless you see the leaking of the next Justin Bieber album, as a national security risk. I’d like to see a Congressional hearing on such a topic.

  22. Kestris says:

    A LOT of sims custom creation creators who used that site for free distribution of their items are pissed.

  23. bitplayer says:

    I find this to be total bs. Regardless of what was said it seems as if they actually followed the DMCA. Content was taken down, users banned. They had a compliance officer. The post office knows people ship drugs, it doesn’t mean they open every package to investigate.