Screenshot from the MegaUpload music video
Popular file-sharing site MegaUpload, along with sister sites like MegaVideo, was shut down by the federal government today, and the people behind the site are being indicted.
The indictment charges MegaUpload with costing copyright holders $500 million in lost revenue, hosting movies, TV shows and more. MegaUpload contends that "the vast majority of Mega's Internet traffic is legitimate, and we are here to stay," as well as offering to talk ideas with the content industry, according to the Daily Beast.
The hacker group Anonymous apparently responded to the shutdown by hacking the sites of the Justice Department, Universal Pictures, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). They've also been attacking WhiteHouse.gov, but have failed thus far to shut the site down. Of course, when it comes to government sites, sensitive material is kept away from public-facing sites, so it's making a statement more than causing real problems for the government.
While Anonymous is a loosely organized group, you can follow some of what they're doing on Twitter account @AnonOps.
The part I found fascinating about MegaUpload: its endorsement by celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Jamie Foxx, P. Diddy and Alicia Keys, which you can see in this music video put together about the service:
The company's CEO and Alicia Keys' husband, Swiss Beatz, wasn't named in the indictment. The company is based in Hong Kong, but content was hosted on servers in Virginia, which gave the U.S. government jurisdiction, according to the Associated Press. Four of the company's employees were arrested in New Zealand, while three other defendants remain at large.
Copyright lawyer Steven T. Shelton told the Associated Press that more prosecutions like this are likely as technology makes it easier to catch suspected pirates. Of course, the other side of that technology race is continuing as well, with pirates trying to find newer, better ways to see, listen to or read what they want.