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Megaupload.com site shut down, seven indicted in USAFP News20 January 2012Megaupload.com, one of the world's largest file-sharing sites, has been shut down and seven people charged with copyright infringement and other crimes, US authorities announced.The indictments sparked retaliation from the "Anonymous" hacktivist group, who announced in a tweet that they had downed the websites of the US Justice Department, Universal Music, and the Recording Industry Association of America.The founder of the Hong Kong-based Megaupload was among four people arrested in connection with what the Justice Department and FBI described as "among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States."In a statement, the Justice Department and FBI said the seven were "responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works, through Megaupload.com and other related sites."They generated more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and caused "more than half a billion dollars in harm to copyright owners," the statement said, by offering pirated copies of movies, TV programs and other content.The announcement of the indictment came one day after Wikipedia, Google and other websites staged a protest against congressional legislation intended to crack down on online piracy.Attempts to access the Justice Department, Universal Music, and Recording Industry Association of America portals failed, following the action by Anonymous on Thursday.Megaupload Ltd and another company, Vestor Ltd, were indicted by a grand jury in Virginia and charged with racketeering conspiracy, various copyright infringement counts and conspiring to commit money laundering.Among those indicted was the founder of Megaupload and sole shareholder of Vestor, Kim Dotcom, 37, a resident of Hong Kong and New Zealand who is also known as Kim Schmitz and Kim Tim Jim Vestor.The others charged are Finn Batato, 38, of Germany; Julius Bencko, 35, of Slovakia; Sven Echternach, 39, of Germany; Mathias Ortmann, 40, of Germany; Andrus Nomm, 32, of Estonia; and Bram van der Kolk, 29, of the Netherlands.The Justice Department and FBI said Dotcom, Batato, Ortmann and van der Kolk were arrested on Thursday in Auckland, New Zealand, by local authorities on the basis of arrest warrants requested by the United States.Bencko, Echternach and Nomm remain at large.The Justice Department and FBI said $50 million in assets was seized during the operation along with 18 domain names. Attempts to connect to Megaupload.com were unsuccessful on Thursday.Conspiracy to commit racketeering and conspiracy to commit money laundering each carry maximum sentences of 20 years in prison while five years in prison is the maximum punishment for the copyright infringement charges.
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