Notorious file locker Megaupload has been taken down today as of 2:15PM, the day after SOPA was shelved. Seven individuals and two corporations- Megaupload Limited and Vestor Limited – have been charged by the FBI for piracy related crimes in the United States and New Zealand and forced to shut down Megaupload.com. This marks the largest criminal copyright cases ever in the history of the United States as the site generated $175 million in criminal proceeds and allegedly caused more than $500 million in damages to copyright holders.
In response to the closure, Anonymous has launched a distributed denial service attack on several web properties owned by those complicit in the Megaupload bust. You can check out our list of alternatives to Megaupload to help you find a new file sharing resource.
Mega-Sites Gone for Good
Along with Megaupload, Megavideo.com, the company’s sister streaming flash video site has also been taken offline. It looks like the all of the sites in the Mega ‘network’ have been taken down as a result of the Federal investigation. This has come as a bit of a surprise to many:
- On the surface, the site seemed to have complied with DMCA regulations, and removed material when asked.
- The site did not directly promote piracy.
- The listed employees are nearly all non US citizens, so this required international cooperation.
The swift and relatively unannounced takedown has created a huge stir in the internet-technology sector and, more acutely, in the thriving tech startup industry. It sets an ambiguous precedent that services used to share files, where the possibility of abuse (ie sharing copyrighted material unbeknownst to the company’s administration) may be grounds for indictment. For instance Dropbox, the personal file sharing service, may have to become increase intervention and filtering to duck a similar raid in the future. The scare of this materializing was what lead to the internet wide protest against the SOPA bill yesterday.
Still it’s almost impossible to deny that Megavideo and Megaupload were rife with pirated material and that they at best took their time in complying the DMCA takedown requests. From the department of justice press release:
As alleged in the indictment, the conspirators failed to terminate accounts of users with known copyright infringement, selectively complied with their obligations to remove copyrighted materials from their servers and deliberately misrepresented to copyright holders that they had removed infringing content. For example, when notified by a rights holder that a file contained infringing content, the indictment alleges that the conspirators would disable only a single link to the file, deliberately and deceptively leaving the infringing content in place to make it seamlessly available to millions of users to access through any one of the many duplicate links available for that file.
This was often the case anecdotally, as Alex Muir put it:
Megaupload never complied with DMCA requests – I made several as part of some research and never received any response. The site charged for access to, and provided advertising around, pirated content. The site paid people (users/staff – it’s a fine line) to provide popular content.
It went to extraordinary lengths to hide the identity of its operators.
The entire 72 page long edictment is available from here.
Bring on the Fakes
There are rumours flying around twitter about new iterations of Megaupload and Megavideo. Alas, these are so far all fakes. The most popular New Megaupload is http://megavideo.bz/. The site allegedly hosts a a recent backup of the downed Megaupload but with a non functioning sketchy layout, consistant server outages. The UUID UA-6383685-1 points to number of other megaupload ripoff sites that exist only to display advertising when someone miss types the url. Here is a screenshot of the site: