US DOJ Shuts Down Megaupload Site, Citing Piracy

Dennis Faas's picture

The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has shut down a leading "direct download" file-sharing site: Megaupload. In addition, employees have been charged with copyright-related offenses.

Megaupload is designed to share files, regardless of legality. The site also allowed users to post links to the copyrighted files so anyone could obtain them. Overall, critics suggest Megaupload was much easier to use than other file-sharing sites, such as torrents or newsgroups.

The site was also free of charge for most users. Anyone prepared to pay for premium membership got priority service, higher transfer speeds, and larger file-size limits.

Megaupload Did Little to Combat Piracy

An extremely high proportion of files shared on Megaupload were copyrighted, and were transferred without the file owner's permission. According to the US Department of Justice, the site's legal problems went beyond mere copyright infringement, and beyond complicity by the site's operators.

The biggest problem was that MegaUpload did too little to crack down on piracy.

The DoJ alleges that site staff ignored warnings about illegal files, and falsely claimed to have deleted them when, in fact, they had simply disabled the offending link to the pirated material. The file remained on Megaupload servers and could still be downloaded. (Source:

Prosecutors have charged seven men with knowingly and intentionally profiting from copyright infringement, and related crimes. Four of the men are under arrest in New Zealand.

Officials Use Legal Powers to Close Down Site

A US district court has allowed the DoJ to take control of the Megaupload site and domain name, outraging some Internet users, including the online "hacktivism" group Anonymous, which responded by knocking the DoJ's own website, and several others, offline.

The government seizure of Megaupload seems unrelated to the current controversy over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which would make it easier for the US to shut down both domestic and foreign sites that were alleged to participate in piracy of intellectual property. 

Under SOPA, as currently written, US courts could go after alleged copyright law offenders by ordering third parties to take action.

In some cases, this could mean forcing search engines to stop linking to an alleged piracy site, or barring financial firms from processing payments to and from the alleged offenders. (Source:

Rate this article: 
No votes yet