U.S. Shutters Megaupload. Founder Kim Dotcom, Others Arrested In New Zealand
In what is being described at the largest such case in U.S. history, 7 individuals and 2 corporations have been charged in the United States with "running an international organized criminal enterprise" responsible for massive worldwide piracy of copyrighted works, through Megaupload.com and related sites. Founder Kim Dotcom and to other Megaupload executives have been detained in New Zealand. The sites were taken offline
The unsealed indictment alleges that the operation generated more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and caused more than half a billion dollars in damage to copyright owners, according to the U.S. Justice Department and FBI.
More than 20 search warrants were executed today in the U.S. and eight other countries and approximately $50 million in assets siezed. Targeted sites taken offline where Megaupload has servers in Ashburn, Va., Washington, D.C., the Netherlands and Canada. In addition, the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., ordered the seizure of 18 domain names associated with Megaupload.
Alleged members of the "Mega conspiracy" charged in the indictment include
- 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 resident of both Germany and Hong Kong, who is the chief technical officer, co-founder and director;
- Andrus Nomm, 32, a citizen of Estonia and 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 resident of both the Netherlands and New Zealand, who oversees programming and the underlying network structure for the Mega conspiracy websites.
According to the filing, "by actively supporting the use of third-party linking sites to publicize infringing content, the conspirators did not need to publicize such content on the Megaupload site. Instead, the indictment alleges that the conspirators manipulated the perception of content available on their servers by not providing a public search function on the Megaupload site and by not including popular infringing content on the publicly available lists of top content downloaded by its users."