Kiwis collar Megaupload kingpin, Anonymous exacts revenge
Retaliation downs US DoJ, RIAA, MPAA
America’s war on file-dump site Megaupload has escalated dramatically, with founder Kim Dotcom and three others in Auckland among seven people arrested in connection with the site.
The four arrested in New Zealand include Megaupload’s chief marketing officer Finn Batato, cofounder and CTO Mathias Ortmann, and BOFH Bram van der Kolk. New Zealand reports state that three others, graphic designer Julius Bancko, business development manager Sven Echternach and software development head Andrus Nomm, are “still at large”.
According to Stuff.co.nz, Dotcom and van der Kolk are New Zealand residents.
The international operation claims to have netted $US20 million in assets across eight countries. Update: CNN puts the seizure of assets as being worth $US50 million, including servers in Virginia and Washington DC.
The FBI is working with a full charge sheet, accusing Dotcom and his associates of criminal copyright infringement, money laundering, and racketeering. It claims that Megaupload’s operations, which generated $US175 million in income through subscriptions and advertising, caused damage to copyright owners of $US500 million.
In an instant and furious reaction, Anonymous is claiming credit for taking down the websites of the US Department of Justice, the MPAA, and the RIAA as punishment for the arrest.
In spite of a past that includes accusations of investment fraud and convictions for computer fraud and handling stolen goods, Dotcom (who changed his name from Kim Schmitz) amassed a fortune that allowed him to rent a vast multi-million-dollar mansion near Auckland in New Zealand.
Dotcom's rented mansion. Source: http://www.nbr.co.nz
As Kim Schmitz, Dotcom’s prior art includes a claim that he had discovered how to make money from the stock market relying on nothing but technobabble and investor gullibility.
A decade back he was also claiming to have penetrated Osama bin Laden’s bank accounts. The Anon-anointed hacker hero’s convictions include stock price manipulation and insider trading – these disqualified him from buying the mansion he was leasing.
Dotcom nee Schmitz was unhappy about the New Zealand government’s decision via then associate finance minister Simon Power that he failed the ‘good character’ test for the purchase of the property, with that country’s 3 News quoting him thus: "Officially I am as clean as it gets. I am not a bad person with a bad character and, in my opinion, Simon Power is small minded and unreasonable. In New Zealand, murderers have been released from prison within a decade. You would think that the New Zealand Government believes in giving people a second chance."
Trying to project a “cleanskin” look for Megaupload, the outfit last year sparked a row with Universal Music Group by crafting a YouTube video with supporters who included UMG-signed artists. The video was removed from YouTube briefly, but later reinstated.
Rolling Stone has revealed that hip-hop artist Swizz Beatz is a silent partner and CEO of Megaupload, although he is not included in the current indictment. Beatz also helped cast the “Megaupload Song” and is counter-suing UMG to defend his actions. ®
Update: The New Zealand Herald reports that items seized in its raid include cars worth a total of $NZ6 million, $NZ10 million in cash, artworks and weapons. New Zealand's Detective Inspector Grant Wormald has said the investigation begun in August last year. He is also reported to have said that there's no intention of charging those arrested over breaches of New Zealand laws, putting the spotlight on extradition proceedings. FBI personnel have been in New Zealand assisting NZ police in the investigation.
Thanks to the commentard who reminded me that there's also a handy Kim Dotcom primer at attrition.org. ®
They are not pirates AFAIK, no one has been pillaged, held hostage, raped or murdered.
As worst they are copyright license infringers. Or, rather, the people doing the uploads are.
If there was any infringement of copyright then that is a civil matter, it's not a reason for the doors to be kicked in and people arrested. That's doubleplus ungood.
The world has moved on, but rather than change the MPAA et al are trying to use new, draconian laws to enforce the status quo and ensure our future culture is controlled by corporations.
This will never work, all it will do is inconvenience the honest and force them into the arms of the infringers (who tend to offer a better service).
Why hasn't Google, Yahoo! or anyone else been shut-down for linking to infringing material? Yet a UK citizen is being extradited for what is, at worst, a civil offence?
Why weren't Sony execs jailed for the rootkit fiasco?
Why hasn't the RIAA been punished for torrenting infringing material?
The questions go on.
It is right that creators, distributors etc get a fair wage (as determined by a free market)
It is not right to restrict free trade or attack my freedoms simply to protect an outmoded revenue stream.
It is not right to hold our culture to ransom.
It is not right that elected representatives act against the wishes and best interests of the electorate.
Nice to see...
The US CEO is not mentioned, as clearly is it ALL EVIL FOOORNERS who do all this... evil.
Also nice to see them going after the GRAPHIC DESIGNER, because he is clearly a lynchpin of the whole organisation of evil; although if he used Comic Sans fonts he might be liable for Crimes Against Humanity under UN Human Rights Laws.
It doesn't matter that SOPA didn't get through, the Merkins will just do whatever they want anyway.
Black Helicopters, because I am certain that reading subversive FOOORN TEERRST publications like El Reg will make you a drone target soon enough....
The reality of whether Megaupload has a business model based around copyright infringement or not is irrelevant. The whole point of this sort of repository is that people pay some money and get a chunk of storage to put something. There are a lot of people who will have put non-illegal stuff up there who have now lost it. Doing this will simply result in all repository sites becoming potentially unreliable and therefore not of use to anyone. What's the point of that?
Even BT in this country has this sort of facility. Is there any copyright infringing material on there........almost certainly. Should they be shutdown as well? Why not? They're doing essentially the same thing.