U.S. accuses a major internet content hosting website, Megaupload.com of copyright infringement. Seven individuals and two corporations – Megaupload Limited and Vestor Limited have been charged for the offence with running of an international organized criminal enterprise allegedly responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of number of copyrighted works, generating more than $175 million. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and the Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
The website has been operated by the conspiracy’s criminal for more than five years resulting in reproducing and distributing infringing copies of copyrighted works, including movies – some even before their official theatrical release – music, television programs, electronic books, and business and entertainment software on a massive scale.
Users could upload material to the company’s sites which then would create a link that could be distributed. The sites, which included video, music and pornography, did not provide search capabilities but rather relied on others to publish the links, the indictment said. Users could purchase memberships to the site to obtain faster upload and download services, the primary source of revenue. Material that was not regularly downloaded was deleted and financial incentives were offered for popular content, according to the charges. The web page with the link to the copyrighted material would include advertisements, another source of revenue.
The site advertised stating that it is having more than one billion visits to the site, with more than 150 million registered users, 50 million daily visitors and accounting for four percent of the total traffic on the Internet. The estimated harm conduct to copyright holders is well in excess of $500 million. The conspirators allegedly earned more than $175 million in illegal profits through advertising revenue and selling premium memberships. This action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime.