On Thursday (Jan 19), U.S. federal authorities shut down Megaupload, a hugely popular file-sharing site, on charges of copyright infringement and conspiracy in money laundering. This came just a day after civil protests in the U.S., including blackouts of several popular websites worldwide, like Google and Wikipedia, over proposed anti-piracy bills, Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate.
Megaupload, a so-called “locker services on the Internet,” allows its users to transfer large files, like videos and music, through its site, much like RapidShare and MediaFire. The New York Times reports that the site is now accused of “causing $500 million in damages to copyright owners and of making $175 million through selling ads and premium subscriptions.” More than “20 search warrants have been executed in the U.S. and in eight other countries.” It was also reported that “about $50 million in assets have been seized,” including “a number of servers and 18 domain names that formed Megaupload’s network of file-sharing sites.”
In retaliation, the group Anonymous, who describes itself as “fighters for internet freedom” claimed to have disabled several websites, including those of the U.S. Department of Justice; the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Recording Industry Association of America (PIAA); and those of the Universal Music Group, the largest music label, and BMI, which represents music publishers.
CNN reports say a Justice Department spokesperson already confirmed that its Web server was “experiencing a significant increase in activity, resulting in a degradation in service.”
Anonymous clarified its target in a post, which reads: “We Anonymous are launching our largest attack ever on government and music industry sites. Lulz. The FBI didn’t think they would get away with this did they? They should have expected us.”
A video on YouTube, “Don’t Mess With Us,” calls the action as the beginning of “a new era” and for the nation to “come together and fight the tyrants”.
As of this writing, The New Web (TNW) reports today that Megaupload may already be regrouping under another domain name, megavideo.bz, and “is looking to relaunch a site outside of the US, and away American [jurisdiction].”