Web Applications

Feds Shut Down MegaUpload

Jan 19 03:25

File-Sharing Site MegaUpload Indicted for Internet Piracy, Shut Down by US

File-Sharing Site Indicted for Internet Piracy; Shut Down by U.S. Officials, one of the Internet's best-known file-sharing sites, was shuttered by federal officials Thursday. In addition, founder Kim Dotcom (formerly Kim Schmitz) and three other executives connected to the parent company MegaUpload Limited were arrested in New Zealand.

The hacker collective Anonymous appeared to respond to the government's action by taking down several high-profile sites with a quickly coordinated distributed-denial-of-service attack, or DDoS attack.

Anonymous logo
Anonymous logo
As of Thursday afternoon, Anonymous seemed to have shut down the websites for the RIAA, the MPAA, Universal Music Group, and even the U.S. Copyright Office. The timing of the indictment almost certainly fanned the flames of Anonymous’s anger, coming just one day after the group participated in a nationwide protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which the group had vigorously opposed for months.

[Read: Were SOPA/PIPA Protests a Success?]

A 72-page indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia (near Washington, D.C.), charges with conspiracy to commit racketeering, copyright infringement, and money laundering, among other charges connected with illegal use of copyrighted materials. The indictment was signed by U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia. Some of's servers reportedly are in Auburn, Virginia, which is in the Eastern District.

A statement from the FBI calls the action "among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime."

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The indictment alleges that the criminal enterprise is led by Dotcom and Kim Tim Jim Vestor, 37, a resident of both Hong Kong and New Zealand. Federal statements say that Dotcom founded MegaUpload Limited and is the director and sole shareholder of Vestor Limited, which has served to hold his ownership interests in the Mega-affiliated sites.

FBI logo
The FBI statement says that the following people also were charged in the indictment:

  • Finn Batato, 38, a citizen and resident of Germany, who is the chief marketing officer;
  • Julius Bencko, 35, a citizen and resident of Slovakia, who is the graphic designer;
  • Sven Echternach, 39, a citizen and resident of Germany, who is the head of business development;
  • Mathias Ortmann, 40, a citizen of Germany and a resident of both Germany and Hong Kong, who is the chief technical officer, cofounder, and director;
  • Andrus Nomm, 32, a citizen of Estonia and a resident of both Turkey and Estonia, who is a software programmer and head of the development software division;
  • Bram van der Kolk, aka Bramos, 29, a Dutch citizen and a resident of both the Netherlands and New Zealand, who oversees programming and the underlying network structure for the Mega websites.

Dotcom, Batato, Ortmann, and van der Kolk were arrested Thursday in New Zealand.

The indictment calls "a commercial website and service…that reproduces and distributes copies of popular copyrighted content over the Internet without authorization." The indictment also says that employees and organizations affiliated with MegaUpload were part of a "Mega Conspiracy."

The indictment estimates that the infringements cost copyright holders up to $500 million in damages, while the company and its leaders reported incomes of more than $175 million. It also states: "The site claims to have had more than one billion visitors in its history, more than 180,000,000 registered users to date, an average of 350 million daily visits, and to account for approximately four percent of the total traffic on the Internet."


According to the indictment,, established around 2005, was at one point the 13th-most-visited site on the Internet, and accounted for vast amounts of Internet traffic as users uploaded and downloaded music, movies, books, video games, and computer software. The site was unique among file-sharing sites in that it had the support of several high-profile celebrities (Kanye West and, among others, appeared in a MegaUpload video posted on YouTube). Users have also viewed the site primarily as a way of sending files that are too large to be transmitted by email.

The indictment states that the incomes the company’s executives made came primarily from advertising revenues and “premium subscriptions” purchased by heavy users of the MegaUpload service. “In exchange for payment, the Mega Conspiracy provides the fast reproduction and distribution of infringing copies of copyrighted works from its computer servers located around the world,” prosecutors claim.

The indictment of MegaUpload Limited cites several movies available for free on from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring to Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 1--and gives the location of the servers from which the movies were made publicly available.’s indictment comes at a time when Congress is debating stricter copyright infringement laws, in the form of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate.

[Read: SOPA and PIPA: Just the Facts]

The Associated Press reports that before the site was taken down, posted a statement saying that allegations of piracy were "grotesquely overblown."

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Jan 18 12:20

SOPA and PIPA: Web Protests Seem to Be a Turning Point

Opponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act cheered Wednesday's Web blackout as a turning point in the debate over the two controversial copyright protection bills.

Momentum in the debate over PIPA and SOPA seems to have shifted in favor of opponents in recent days, with several lawmakers voicing new opposition, and the White House appearing to distance itself from the two bills. The Web blackout Wednesday may be remembered as one of the first successful online uprisings in the U.S., but leaders in the U.S. Senate still planned to begin voting on PIPA next Tuesday.

Representative Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat, blacked out her own website to protest the bills. "History is being made by the more than 10,000 websites that have chosen to boycott SOPA by participating in today's blackout," she tweeted.

Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican and opponent of the two bills, also praised participants in the Web blackout for educating the public about the issue. The Web blackout led to widespread media coverage of the opposition to SOPA and PIPA.

[Related: SOPA and PIPA: Just the Facts]

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Jan 19 04:33

Anonymous Retaliates Against MegaUpload Takedown, Knocks MPAA, RIAA Sites Offline

In a hastily assembled retaliation against the federal shutdown of, hacktivist group Anonymous has allegedly taken down a number of websites--including those of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

According to, several websites are out of commission as of this writing, likely thanks to DDoS attacks: the U.S. Department of Justice (,, the U.S. Copyright Office, Universal Music Group, the RIAA, and the MPAA.

At about 2 p.m. on Thursday, @AnonDaily, a Twitter account assumed to be associated with Anonymous, tweeted: "TANGO DOWN! - U.S. Government Website DOWN!" The account has continued to post updates, noting that RIAA, MPAA, Universal Music Group, and U.S. Copyright Office websites were all down, and that Anonymous istrying to knock out several other websites, including the FBI and White House websites.

Site status from for the RIAA and Department of Justice sites.

They are also working on taking down the website of MPAA chief, Chris Dodd, who is a strong supporter of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills that are currently making their ways through the congressional circuit. Dodd said Tuesday that yesterday's Internet blackout protests performed by big Web players, including Google and Wikipedia, were an "abuse of power."

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Jan 24 10:20

MegaUpload Alternatives: 6 Sites Still Open for Business

The U.S. government's shutdown of MegaUpload might have seemed like bad news for online file sharing, but it could be a boon for other file sharing sites -- at least those that aren't afraid to keep operating. While some MegaUpload alternatives have suspended operations or restricted U.S. visitors, others are alive and well, and remain confident about staying that way.

Here are six MegaUpload alternatives, and why you might use them:

MediaFire [Link]

MegaUpload Alternatives: 6 Sites Still Open for Business
Benefits and Restrictions: No login required, unlimited total storage, unlimited simultaneous downloads.

Restrictions: 200 MB file size limit, files removed if the user or the file is inactive for an unspecified period of time.

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