Megaupload is no more. One of the world's largest movie and music file-sharing sites was shut down by federal employees on Thursday. Federal authorities are calling it one of the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought. The official charge Megaupload is being accused of: international enterprise based on Internet piracy. The site was one of the most popular locker services on the Internet, allowing users to anonymously transfer files like music and movies. Many media companies have accused the site of abetting copyright infringement, and the grand jury indictment charges that Megaupload caused $500 million in damages to copyright owners and made $175 million through selling ads and premium subscriptions.
News of the shutdown quickly spread across Twitter, where people compared it to a SOPA action. Almost instantly after the shutdown, the hacking group Anonymous called it "the single largest Internet attack in history." They retaliated by temporarily bringing down a number of websites, including those of the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, Universal Music Group, BMI, and half a dozen others. The hacking collective Anonymous is also taking credit for temporarily disabling the Justice Department's website as well as the FBI's. They were helped by curious users who unknowingly overwhelmed those sites by clicking on a mysterious "Operation Megaupload" link that was spread via Twitter. Anonymous posted this message on Twitter: "Let's just say, for #SOPA supporters their #SOPAblackout is today."
There's more to this story. The saga does not end with Anonymous's hacks. What may be the most ironic twist in the story is the identity of Megaupload's CEO. It is music producer Swizz Beatz, real name Kasseem Dean, who happens to be the husband of Grammy-wining artist Alicia Keys. While Beatz was not named in the indictment, four others, including Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, real name Kim Schmitz, were arrested in Auckland, New Zealand. In the Department of Justice's 72-page indictment: 10 flat-screen TVs, 60 data servers, and more than 20 cars, including a Rolls-Royce Phantom with the license plate "God."