The FBI and Justice Department indicted seven staff members of the popular file-sharing Web site Megaupload Thursday, but made a point of saying it had nothing to do with the SOPA and PIPA legislation currently in the U.S. Congress.
The grand jury indictment is part of one of the largest criminal copyright cases ever in the U.S., the Justice Department said in a statement, and those involved will be charged with racketeering, money laundering and conspiracy. Four of those indicted were arrested in Auckland, New Zealand, authorities said, and the Web site taken down per standard procedure.
The popular file-sharing Web site has been promoted by celebrities Kanye West and Chris Brown, and even had Alicia Keys' husband Swizz Beats acting as interim CEO. West and Brown made cameos in a YouTube video that was removed after some people appearing in it said they never agreed to be filmed. Some YouTubers reposted the video anyway, and it is available below.
The FBI and Justice Department said they are searching servers in Canada, the Netherlands, Washington, D.C., and Ashburn, Va., have search warrants in the U.S. and eight other countries, and have seized nearly $50 million in assets related to the alleged scam. Furthermore, 18 domain names have been seized including Megavideo, Megaupload's streaming video service. Both sites are down now, and the authorities said those responsible for the copyright infringement got away with nearly $175 million in illegal profits.
Those charged were allegedly using Megaupload to promote the most popular copyrighted works for millions to download, and the site may have been set up to hide the fact those protected works were even there. There was no search function on the Web site and those popular works were not on the lists of most downloaded works either.
Let us know in the comments if you ever used Megaupload.