One day after the internet blackout in protest of the much maligned SOPA/PIPA anti-piracy legislation, the United States Department of Justice along with the FBI have issued a joint statement announcing the shutdown of file sharing service MegaUpload and all connected sites in its network.
In its announcement of the indictment, the DoJ names the following individuals as the key people behind the service:
• 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.
Dotcom, Batato, Ortmann and van der Kolk were arrested today in Auckland, New Zealand while Bencko, Echternach and Nomm are presumed to be on the run from authorities.
The above individuals were charged with the following crimes:
"engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement. The individuals each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the charge of conspiracy to commit racketeering, five years in prison on the charge of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, 20 years in prison on the charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering and five years in prison on each of the substantive charges of criminal copyright infringement"
The founder of the site, Kim Schmitz, a.k.a Kim Tim Jim Vestor a.k.a Kim Dotcom is also assumed to be on the run from authorities as he holds dual residency in Hong Kong and New Zealand. Schmitz was the most flamboyant of the people involved in the site, openly spending his fortune earned from the site and repeatedly denying that MegaUpload was promoting piracy.
Another reason for the portal's popularity was due to the easy availability of manga scanlations and fansubs along with rips of the latest hentai releases from Japan. Manga scanlators especially took advantage of the service, as it offered an extensive points program that paid out hundreds to thousands of dollars in earnings depending on volume of downloads, which encouraged them to upload new material on a frequent basis.
Unsurprisingly, international users are the loudest in lamenting the shutdown, as I've noticed in my Twitter timeline that a lot of Spanish anime and manga fans are scrambling to find alternatives as well as streaming sites that used MegaUpload to host fansubs..
To end this on a humorous note, it was discovered yesterday that the CEO of the company turned out to be hip-hop producer Swizz Beatz, who happens to be married to Singer Alicia Keys and wrote a dreadful dedication to the service, embedded below.
With all that said and done, what do you guys think of the shutdown?
Update: Anonymous has retaliated against the Megaupload takedown by taking down the homepages for Universal Music Entertainment, the Recording Industry/Motion Picture Association of America and the United States Department of Justice along with the homepage for The White House. Looks like they're not happy.