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Popular File-Sharing Site, MegaUpload.com, Shuttered by FBI

- Common Dreams staff

One day after open internet advocates held a internet-wide online protest objecting to proposed anti-piracy legislation which they claimed was censorship at worse and overreach at best, one of the world's largest file-sharing sites, MegaUpload.com, was shuttered by the FBI and arrest warrants were served in New Zealand.

Megaupload charged users a fee to upload large files anonymously The Associated Press reports:

An indictment accuses Megaupload.com of costing copyright holders more than $500 million in lost revenue from pirated films and other content. The indictment was unsealed one day after websites including Wikipedia and Craigslist shut down in protest of two congressional proposals intended to thwart online piracy.

The Justice Department said in a statement said that Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz, and three others were arrested Thursday in New Zealand at the request of U.S. officials. Two other defendants are at large.

Megaupload was unique not only because of its massive size and the volume of downloaded content, but also because it had high-profile support from celebrities, musicians and other content producers who are most often the victims of copyright infringement and piracy. Before the website was taken down, it contained endorsements from Kim Kardashian, Alicia Keys and Kanye West, among others.

Greg Sandoval at CNET adds:

According to the Justice Department, the indictment alleges that Megaupload is led by Kim Dotcom, aka Kim Schmitz, a German with a colorful history who was once convicted of a felony but he has repeatedly denied engaging in piracy.

DotCom and three others were arrested in Auckland, New Zealand by New Zealand police, who "who executed provisional arrest warrants requested by the United States," the Justice Department.

Along with Dotcom, Kim Tim Jim Vestor, 37, a resident of Hong Kong and New Zealand was also arrested. Authorities say that Dotcom founded Megaupload and is the director and sole shareholder of Vestor Limited, which has been used to hold his ownership interests in the Mega-affiliated sites.

"This action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States," the Justice department said in a statement. The arrests "directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime."

But, as the BBC reports, MegaUpload disputes how its services have been depicted and challenges media outlets who have discredited their model:

Before it was shut down the site posted a statement saying: "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."

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