File-sharing site Megaupload.com was shut down today, and federal prosecutors charged its founder and several company executives with violating piracy laws.
The indictment accuses Megaupload of costing copyright holders more than $500 million in lost revenue from pirated content.
The indictment was unsealed a day after mass protests over the SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy bills, after which the legislation lost support from several members of Congress.
In a statement, The U.S. Department of Justice said the following:
This action is 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.
Calling itself the leading online storage and file delivery service, Megaupload had high-profile endorsements from celebrities and musicians.
The site, which carried ads, let users store and download movies, television shows, games, music, and other content for free, but charged subscriptions fees for faster download speeds or extra content.
The business is based in Hong Kong. The Justice Department reported that Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz, and three other executives were arrested today in New Zealand at the request of U.S. officials. Two other defendants are at large.
According to the Associated Press, before the website was taken down, it posted a statement saying allegations that it facilitated massive breaches of copyright laws were “grotesquely overblown.”
Justice Department Charges Leaders of Megaupload with Widespread Online Copyright Infringement [DOJ]
APNewsBreak: Feds shut down file-sharing website [Associated Press]