Updates can be found at the bottom of the story.
Megaupload just can’t seem to catch a break these days – in fact it may not ever catch a break again. The online storage company has fallen under the dark cloud of a federal indictment for its alleged long term history of “racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering,” and many other charges as outlined by the Department of Justice in its official released statement. Ironically the only way to view the statement at the moment is by reading postings such as ours. I’ll give you a hint as to why this is…it starts with an “A” and rhymes with hippopotamus. If you guessed anything other than the hacker and online activist group Anonymous then you may not be familiar with their ruthless brand of internet justice – more on that later.
In our article SOPA Bill Slipping in Before the New Year, you may recall how we pointed to the recent kerfuffle Megaupload experienced with Universal Music Group as a prime example of DMCA takedown abuse. Though Megaupload was able to put forth a legitimate challenge to UMG’s takedown onslaught, their days were becoming numbered the more and more they tried to push back. Obviously their protests would not be tolerated long as we fast forward a month later. It would be quite wishful thinking to assume that none of these legal brawls are correlated.
Currently four of Megaupload’s employees have been taken into custody and according to sources like the Wall Street Journal one may indeed be the site’s co-founder Kim “Dotcom” Schlitz. The FBI are defending the measures they are taking in their blitz on the site’s operation and staff by citing evidence obtained from bank records and server farms around the globe. Another voice adding to the accusations and condemnations of Megaupload’s activities is Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy. Leahy, the senator who drafted the notorious PIPA bill, provided the following statement about the matter.
Today’s action by the Department of Justice against the leaders of MegaUpload.com shows what law enforcement can do to protect American intellectual property that is stolen through domestic websites. – Senator Patrick Leahy
Several have cringed over the use of the word “domestic” in this statement. Many advocates of the current intellectual property policies and the proposed bills on the table continually insist the pursuit of foreign offenders first and foremost. Megaupload is naturally a foreign offender as it is based in Hong Kong, so why pray tell, did the senator decide on that peculiar choice of word?
Lawmakers are not the only one’s who have voiced their say on the debacle. Immediately when news broke of the arrests and shuttering of the site, one of the Anonymous Twitter feeds, posted this cryptic tweet.
The words shared in the tweet above are far from empty. Anonymous for the past few hours has gone on a furious DDOSing rampage. Governmental sites such as DOJ.gov have been downed along with entertainment entities like the MPAA and the RIAA. The full list of them are constantly being tweeted minute by minute on this feed. While DDOSing may mean a denial of service for as little as a few hours or as much as a day, the fact that the actions of the FBI can be responded to with such devastating force does not bode well for their future copyright gang-busting escapades.
Casualties in the chaos are mounting courtesy of both the federal government and those masquerading in the visage of Guy Fawkes. The carnage can be stopped, I’m sure of that. The question is: Will the party with the actual responsibility and power to do so realize it?
UPDATE January 20, 2012 06:12 AM PST:
Video has surfaced of Kim Dotcom and company in custody.
[youtube width=”550″ height=”343″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZPe97vZJXM[/youtube]
UPDATE January 19, 2012 07:07 PM PST:
CNN in its coverage about the Anonymous campaign against the crackdown on Megaupload released this statement from a spokesperson for the RIAA.
The fact that a couple of sites might have been taken down is really ancillary to the significant news today that the Justice Department brought down one of the world’s most notorious file-sharing hubs. — RIAA spokesman
I’m not so sure its wise of the RIAA to simply scoff in response to the Anonymous attacks. This is not the time to be overconfident considering Anonymous’ current thirst for blood.
UPDATE January 19, 2012 06:55 PM PST:
Currently many tweets in the popular hashtags surrounding the Megaupload shutdown have advertised a new version of the site available for use. None of these have been confirmed as legitimate and this could be a heinous scam attempt. Think carefully before clicking any links from unfamiliar sources. If there is an attempt to rehost the Megaupload site we will be sure to let you know.
UPDATE January 19, 2012 06:17 PM PST:
Anonymous Twitter feeds that work loosely together through the hashtag #OpMegaupload have been tweeting press releases through pastebin links that further reiterate their motivations. Some include possible private information and addresses of the employees that work for organizations that have been on the offensive against Megaupload.
UPDATE January 19, 2012 05:54 PM PST:
Evidence regarding Megaupload’s indictment has become more public and shows how its safe harbor status was no longer in effect. Chat logs and emails between site employees discussing accounts receiving “uploader rewards” knowingly mentioned content hosted on such accounts that were illegal. When a company is fully aware of particular illegal content and continues hosting it anyway, this voids any form of a safe harbor status. Ars Technica has covered the matter in length.
UPDATE January 19, 2012 05:40 PM PST:
The MPAA has released its official statements on the deadly denial of service attacks. Here is a snippet of what they had to say.
The Internet is home to creativity, innovation and free speech. We want to keep it that way. Protecting copyrights and protecting free speech go hand in hand. — MPAA (full statement can be read here)
UPDATE January 19, 2012 05:30 PM PST:
The official DOJ twitter account has acknowledged the DDOS attack and labels it as a “malicious act.” They decline to mention the Anonymous group as the origin.