FBI Shuts Down File-Sharing Giant MegaUpload.com

By Allen Starbury   /   Published 01/19/12

logo - MegauploadDespite SOPA being stalled by website protests/blackouts across the web this week, the FBI has stepped in and shut down one of the world's most popular file-sharing websites, MegaUpload.com.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the FBI shut down the file-sharing giant on Thursday (January 19) and arrested four of the people behind the website as part of a global crackdown against suspected online pirates.

The raid came a day after Washington lawmakers had to delay a vote for two anti-piracy acts -- SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) -- following protests from major players in the tech industry including Wikipedia and Google.

MegaUpload, which is based in Hong Kong, boasts around 50 million daily users, who are allowed the ability to upload any type of files to their webservers for storage and offers a link to download them for sharing purposes. It's free, but also offers memberships that give users faster and unlimited amounts of transfers.

One of the website's chief executives is reportedly superproducer Swizz Beatz. However, he had no immediate comment about the raid as of press time.

The Department Of Justice claims that the website was responsible for $500 million in losses for various copyright owners, while making a $175 million profit.

Seven people have been charged with online piracy crimes in an indictment unsealed by the FBI, said the Journal. Four of them, including MegaUpload's alleged founder and senior executives, are already in custody, authorities said.

Those four were arrested in New Zealand, and charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering and criminal copyright infringement.

The federal indictment calls the company "a worldwide criminal organization whose members engaged in criminal copyright infringement and money laundering on a massive scale."

MegaUpload.com was already engaged in a legal fight with Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group over a promotional video featuring their artists.