February 19, 2012
More Charges, More Details Revealed In Megaupload Case
The U.S. Department of Justice revealed new information about Megaupload.com on Friday, one day after a revised indictment in a Virginia courtroom revealed that the file-sharing website and its founder, Kim Dotcom, would be facing additional charges for copyright infringement and wire fraud.
According to Bloomberg reporter Karen Gullo, Dotcom was hit with three new copyright-related counts and five additional counts of wire fraud related to "allegedly running an illegal enterprise for five years that unlawfully copied works and made them available for download to customers."
Dotcom was originally indicted on five counts back on January 5.
"Dotcom, imprisoned in New Zealand since Jan. 20 at the request of the U.S., failed to win release yesterday after a judge declined to immediately rule on his bid for bail," Gullo said. "North Shore District Court Judge N. R. Dawson said he would deliver his decision before Feb. 22, according to an e- mailed statement from the court."
On Friday, Justice Department officials released a series of new facts and statistics pertaining to the case, according to Chloe Albanesius of PCMag.com. Among the information made public was the fact that 90% of those who accessed MegaUpload.com used the site to download files rather than save their own documents and media online.
Furthermore, they revealed that, despite the website's claims to have had 180 million registered users, internal company computer records showed that there were just 66.6 million people signed up to use the service as of January 19, 2012, Albanesius continued. Only 5.86 million had ever uploaded a photo to Megaupload.com or its sister website, Megavideo.com, the Justice Department added.
The Justice Department also said, in the words of French news agency AFP, that "the superseding indictment also provides further evidence that Megaupload was engaged in massive piracy by facilitating downloads of copyrighted works," and that the indictment "also listed additional assets subject to forfeiture including property, bank accounts, jet skis, jewelry and watches."
Washington Post writer Sarah Halzack also reports that the indictment revealed details on one specific Megaupload user, identified only as "VV" in the website's records. According to Halzack, the individual uploaded approximately 16,950 files to Megaupload's servers, including copies of the movies "Ocean's Thirteen," "Ratatouille" and "Even Almighty." Those files were viewed a total of 34 million times, the Post noted.
According to Albanesius, "VV" received multiple emailed takedown requests dating back to 2008, including 85 from a single copyright holder. In 2008 and 2009, the user earned $3,400 in "rewards" payments from Megaupload because of the popularity of the videos he uploaded to the network, and according to PCMag.com, the Justice Department revealed that "internal records reflect no deletions of any of VV's uploaded files."
As previously reported here on RedOrbit, Megaupload.com was shut down approximately a month ago, and Dotcom (aka Kim Schmitz) and six website employees were charged with copyright infringement and conspiracy. Based on those charges, each individual could have faced a maximum of 20 years in prison.
The initial Grand Jury indictment accused Megaupload of causing $500 million in damages to copyright owners while making $175 million by selling ads and premium subscriptions. During the arrest, more than 20 search warrants were executed in the United States and the FBI seized more than $50 million in assets, including many servers and 18 domain names that made up the network of file-sharing sites.
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