BBC wrote:Megaupload, one of the internet's largest file-sharing sites, has been shut down by officials in the US.
The site's founder have been charged with violating piracy laws.
Federal prosecutors have accused it of costing copyright holders more than $500m (£320m) in lost revenue. The firm says it was diligent in responding to complaints about pirated material.
Investigators denied a link to recent protests against proposed piracy laws, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The US Justice Department said that Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz, and three others were arrested in New Zealand at the request of US officials. It added that two other defendants were still at large.
"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," said a statement posted on the FBI's website.
The charges included copyright infringement, conspiracies to commit racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering.
A federal court in Virginia ordered that 18 domain names associated with the Hong Kong-based firm be seized. Search warrants have been executed in nine countries.
Before it was shut down the site posted a statement saying: "The fact is that the vast majority of Mega's internet traffic is legitimate, and we are here to stay. If the content industry would like to take advantage of our popularity, we are happy to enter into a dialogue. We have some good ideas. Please get in touch."
On Wednesday, thousands of websites took part in a "blackout" to protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (Pipa).
Industry watchers suggest this latest move may feed into the wider debate.
"Neither of the bills are close to being passed - they need further revision - but it appears that officials are able to use existing tools to go after a business alleged to be inducing piracy," said Gartner's media distribution expert Mike McGuire.
"It begs the question that if you can find and arrest people who are suspected to be involved in piracy using existing laws, then why introduce further regulations which are US-only and potentially damaging."
First note that Megaupload is based in Hong Kong.
As background, consider that just a month ago, the Universal Music Group made a fraudulent takedown of a Youtube video ad for Megaupload. In response, Megaupload sued UMG for abusing the DMCA. That case is still in its early stages.
Now four Megaupload personnel have been arrested in New Zealand at the behest of the US Dept. of Justice, and the Megaupload website has been blocked.
Personally, I have never used Megaupload, and don’t really know much about its operation. From what I gather, it’s a site where people pay money for the ability to upload files anonymously. I think it quite likely that there may have been a substantial quantity of copyright violation carried out by users of Megaupload.
Nevertheless, blocking a website without trial and arresting people over alleged copyright violations is a huge miscarriage of justice. Copyright is a civil matter, and should never have become criminal law. The allegations of copyright violation should be carried out in civil court.
Instead, we have the US DoJ calling on foreigners to be arrested by foreign government for things that should not be arrestable offenses in the first place. On top of that, we have a domain name seizure by the US DoJ—depriving a group of people of their property—without trial.
Censorship without trial is quite possibly the single most un-American course of action that is possible. This is a gross failure of due process, and the fact it has been enshrined into law via the ACTA and DMCA is unconscionable.
In my view, intellectual property laws need to be wholly reworked from the ground up to make sense in the internet era. Primary focus should be given to the right of individuals to access and share information. Any restriction to that must demonstrably outweigh the cumulative societal benefits produced by the free flow of information; all the more so if the method employed is to create an artificial government-authorized monopoly by implementing a term of exclusivity, thereby working against the free market as well as against free speech.
Intelectual property rights are necessary and beneficial in promoting the advancement of science, technology, and the arts, when done correctly. But when done incorrectly or too strongly, they not only infringe on the basic rights of the people, but they also fail at their intended purpose.
For reference, the whole of US copyright law can be found here. Copyright protection has gotten far too strict, well beyond the point where is does more harm by restricting flow of information than it does good by encouraging the creation of new works.
I don’t know how this case will play out. With the way DMCA and ACTA are written, it is entirely likely that Megaupload will be utterly destroyed and its proprietors will be jailed. About the best possible outcome I can imagine is a ruling that Megaupload merely provided a platform on which individuals could exercise their free speech in the form of sharing binary numbers that represent information. I highly doubt that will occur, however.
tl;dr: Censorship without trial is quite possibly the single most un-American course of action that is possible. Doing so in the name of preserving a government-created monopoly is anti-capitalist as well.