Amidst the anti-SOPA/PIPA hoopla last week, one of the Internet's biggest file-sharing sites, Megaupload, was shut down by the US Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The federal government also charged seven people connected with it with running an international enterprise based on Internet piracy.
Founder Kim Dotcom and three Megaupload executives were arrested in Auckland, New Zealand at the request of the US government under provisional arrest warrants, and the DOJ describes three other execs as "at large." The complaint alleges that Megaupload, Dotcom, and his team are responsible for $175 million in "criminal proceeds" and "more than half a billion dollars in harm to copyright owners."
Coming just a day after civil protests in the United States over proposed antipiracy bills, the arrests were greeted almost immediately with digital Molotov cocktails. The hacker collective that calls itself attacked the Web sites of the Justice Department and several major entertainment companies and trade groups in retaliation for Megaupload’s seizure. The Justice Department’s site and several others remained inaccessible for much of Thursday afternoon.
Following Megaupload's shutdown, FileSonic has eliminated file sharing from their service menus and Uploaded.to has severed access for users in the US. Clearly, this is another dark day for free access advocates. What bothers me most, however, is the language used in the indictment. Megaupload was referred to as an "international organized criminal enterprise." I find it objectionable and highly irresponsible for the US Justice Department to impliedly place online file-sharing services along the same line as international drug cartel or white-slavery. I say they should get their heads checked... by a jumbo jet.
Francis Paolo Tiopianco, Entry #6