A grand total of $50 million in assets has been seized, and new charges were filed against the now-shuttered file-sharing Web site Megaupload, authorities said Feb. 17. In January, Megaupload and several of its affiliate Web sites were taken down, and several people connected to the sites arrested in New Zealand in one of the U.S.'s biggest ever criminal copyright infringement cases. So far, assets taken from the group, including Kim Schmitz (Kim Dotcom) a German national, have included Dotcom's mansion, car collection, bank accounts and jewelry. The new charges said the site's operators lied to copyright holders about taking down infringing content.
Megaupload allegedly sought out illegal copies of movies, music, software and e-books on a massive scale, Wired.com's Threat Level security blog reported. That Megaupload was taken down only days after new government anti-piracy legislation was killed because of online protesting only points to how contentious the issue is in the music and movie industry. Authorities allege Megaupload actively tried to get people to upload illegal content, and then rarely followed orders to remove content that was protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Furthermore, officials said there were far fewer members of Megaupload than the site had contended, and that only a small percent actually stored content in so-called digital lockers. Nearly 90% of Megaupload users now appear to have gone to the site only to download content, generating millions of dollars to the sites coffers.
In all, Schmitz and six others have been charged with conspiracy, money laundering and racketeering, along with the new charges. They're being held in New Zealand and await extradition to the U.S. Anyone who did have an account on Megaupload, legal or not, will not have a chance to get any of their data back, either. Let us know in the comments if you ever used Megaupload and if you had an account you can no longer access.