US shutdown of sharing site draws hacker retaliation

Jan 20, 2012 by Arthur MacMillan
Photo illustration. US authorities shut down one of the world's largest file-sharing sites and charged seven people with copyright crimes, prompting hackers to disable the FBI and Justice Department's websites.

US authorities have shut down one of the largest file-sharing websites and charged seven people with copyright crimes, sparking a retaliatory cyber attack on the FBI and Justice Department websites.

The two government sites were up and running again early Friday after being shut down for several hours in an attack claimed by the "Anonymous" hacktivist group, which also briefly disabled music and recording industry websites.

The file-sharing site Megaupload.com went offline as officials and the laid out the details of what they described as "among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States."

The founder of the Hong Kong-based Megaupload site was among four people arrested for online piracy and crimes that justice officials said had illegally netted them millions of dollars from subscriptions and .

The site is popular with Hollywood celebrities and has been endorsed by music stars such as Kanye West. It was also reported Thursday that Swizz Beatz, a music producer married to the singer Alicia Keys, was its chief executive.

Beatz, whose real name is Kasseem Dean, was not named in the indictment.

The announcement of the indictment on Thursday came one day after Wikipedia, and other websites staged a protest against congressional legislation intended to crack down on online piracy.

Anonymous, which has launched previous cyber attacks to protest against alleged , claimed to have taken down a number of sites, though most were up and running again shortly after midnight (0500 GMT Friday.)

Attempts to access the FBI, , Universal Music and the were unsuccessful Thursday evening, but all except appeared to have recovered by Friday.

Megaupload.com went offline as justice officials and the Federal Bureau of Investigation laid out the details of what they described as "among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States."

"The Internet is here. Are you ready for The Year of ? We are. Rise up and join us to fight for your rights," YourAnonNews, an Anonymous-aligned group, said in a tweet Thursday.

The Justice Department said late Thursday that the downing of its website was "being treated as a malicious act" pending a full investigation.

The Justice Department and FBI had earlier said the seven people charged 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.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy welcomed the US shutdown of Megaupload, saying the site's operators were reaping "criminal profits from the illegal distribution of copyrighted works."

The Justice Department said "others known and unknown" had taken part in the alleged copyright infringement and money laundering.

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."

Megaupload Ltd and another company, Vestor Ltd, were indicted by a grand jury in Virginia and charged with racketeering conspiracy, copyright infringement and conspiring to commit money laundering.

Among those indicted was Megaupload founder 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 based on arrest warrants requested by the United States.

Bencko, Echternach and Nomm remain at large.

The Justice Department and FBI said $50 million in assets were seized during the operation along with 18 domain names. Attempts to connect to Megaupload.com were unsuccessful late Thursday and early Friday.

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 charges.

New Zealand police confirmed four people were arrested in Auckland and would face court on Friday following a US request for their extradition.

The police said New Zealand authorities had been working on the case with the FBI and US Justice Department for several months.

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User comments : 12

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kevinrtrs
Jan 20, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
rowbyme
5 / 5 (9) Jan 20, 2012
Kevin, please stop spamming this site...you are completely nuts.
tommytalks77
1 / 5 (3) Jan 20, 2012
I think Anonymous should take down a major "legal" downloads site, like Amazon or iTunes...
You know, eye for an eye... And should do it mercilessly, take it really down, not just for a couple of hours.
Seriously...
aennen
5 / 5 (1) Jan 20, 2012
I am against this bill as it gives a level of power that can be abused.

But I am also against illegal activities and abuse of the freedom of the internet there is no accountabilty for a persons action or provisions of deterence to such actitivities.

When I start seeing groups start proposing the types of control that prevent child porn, bullying, Identiy theft, things that protect me the use, then they will have my full support, for now they are people who's only interest is getting something for nothing and enablers of the bad side of the internet.
CHollman82
1.8 / 5 (16) Jan 20, 2012
Like was stated in the other article, this is tantamount to seizing control of a major bank and bringing charges against it's board of directors because a few customers might have stolen material in their deposit boxes... This is fucking ridiculous. I use megaupload for legitimate and legal reasons and now my backup files that I was hosting there are inaccessible.

The government just stole from me to stop other people from stealing from others... Do we really want to allow this gross over use of power by the authorities in order to act as the personal protectors of the major media companies?
Jotaf
not rated yet Jan 20, 2012
My understanding was that they always complied with infringement complaints by the companies. So what are they being accused of? By the same logic YouTube would be seized too.
hagger
1 / 5 (1) Jan 21, 2012
will the FBI shut them selves down and stop running drugs to fund covert dark ops...the fact that this bunch of meglomaniacs are in every country and every government pulling strings goes so far back as to have been forgoten...this is just the first steps in shutting down any site they deem illegal..in their eyes they all are..you think this bunch are clean..good god you must be on drugs..
damien_bizeau
not rated yet Jan 22, 2012
I am sure that University of Maryland and NASA scientist Eric F. Vermote didn't at all appreciate Megaupload's seizure. Very nice and cool anti piracy "Hadopi" law progress in France - in French: "c'est très "surprenant" tous les web posts laissés comme cela partout sur Internet par des Pseudos Totallement Anonymes comme le votre sur le sujet de piratage... Megaupload = domaine purement et simplement bloqué par le U. S District Court sur décision de grand jury fédéral américain (par opérations du F.B.I). Je m'y attendais depuis très longtemps en ce qui me concerne (lire tous mes web posts en anglais et français); tout cela est fort intéressant pour les créateurs à mon avis : internautes mal avertis contre la HADOPI qu'en pensez-vous maintenant ? Toujours aussi fiers ?

Voici les graves raisons officielles de la fermeture de Megaupload :

- violation criminelle de droits d'auteurs
- complot de racket
- conspiration de violation de droits d'auteurs
- blanchiment d'argent."
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jan 22, 2012
Awwwwwww. It is the price you are going to have to pay for being a corporate stooge.

Why are you suddenly opposed to the Pro-Corporate Agenda after spending so much time and effort defending and promoting it?

Is it simply because it is inconveniencing you?

Doesn't that make you a hypocrite?

"The government just stole from me to stop other people from stealing from others..." - CHollmanTard
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jan 22, 2012
Who cares? Their actions are limiting the profits of those who claim ownership of the information.

That is enough to put them in prison for life.

As my Libertarian friend told me. In America, anything that reduces corporate profits is, and must be, illegal. It is a moral imperative.

"My understanding was that they always complied with infringement complaints by the companies. So what are they being accused of?" - Jotaf
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jan 22, 2012
But abuse of the law is the American way.

Why Change now?

"I am against this bill as it gives a level of power that can be abused." - Aennen
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jan 22, 2012
Who cares? In America, Corporations rule. Individual liberty is subservient to corporate interests.

"I am sure that University of Maryland and NASA scientist Eric F. Vermote didn't at all appreciate Megaupload's seizure." - Damien
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Jan 22, 2012
The situation is entirely different of course. The RIAA and the MPAA say so. And who would know better than them?

Certainly not you.

Reducing corporate profits is illegal in America. The former publicist for the Libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute has told me so.

Was he lying?

"Like was stated in the other article, this is tantamount to seizing control of a major bank and bringing charges against it's board of directors because a few customers might have stolen material in their deposit boxes... This is fucking ridiculous." - Chollman