1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Friday, 20 January 2012

Megaupload team arrested in New Zealand

Reuters report that Kim Dotcom (Kim Schmitz, a 37 year old German national), the Megaupload boss, has been arrested by police in New Zealand and that the US Government has shut down the content sharing website which recently featured on this Blog. It can hardly have escaped anyone’s notice that the actions come against the background of heated debate over the proposed SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) legislation in the USA but Reuters report that a US Justice Department official said the timing of the arrests was not related to the battle inside and outside Congress. Schmitz lives in new Zealand and it appears that some 70 police officers raided 10 properties and also arrested the website's chief marketing officer, Finn Batato, 38, chief technical officer and co-founder Mathias Ortmann, 40 (both German nationals) and Dutch national Bram van der Kolk, 29, who is also a New Zealand resident. Alongside these arrests, NZ police seized several million dollars worth of assets and NZ$10 million from financial institutions. The Organised & Financial Crime Agency New Zealand said they would work with US Authorities to enable extradition proceedings to proceed. Those arrested have been remanded in custody after a court hearing in Auckland.

The indictment accuses seven individuals and two corporations – Hong Kong based Megaupload Limited and Vestor Limited -- of costing copyright holders more than $500 million in lost revenue from pirated films and other content. Megaupload has boasted of having more than 150 million registered users and 50 million daily visitors, according to the indictment. At one point, it was estimated to be the 13th most frequently visited website on the Internet.

And critics of the quickly showed their opposition to the shutdown of Megaupload.com, with hackers attacking the public websites of the Justice Department, the world's largest music company Universal Music, and the two big trade groups that represent the music and film industries, the RIAA and the MPA.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/20/usa-crime-piracy-idUSL1E8CJC1Q20120120 and http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/01/19/feds-shut-down-file-sharing-website/

3 comments:

JH said...

The full indictment can be read here. There's a good summary of some of the key evidence at Ars Technica.

It makes a case that the owners were fully aware of how the site was being used; took active steps to disguise the extent and nature of it; systematically continued to host infringing content that had been brought to their attention; themselves uploaded downloaded and linked to infringing content; profiting from a powerful revenue-generating model on a grand scale.

Andy J said...

Like Richard O'Dwyer, Dotcom and his associates seem destined to be extradited to the US to face charges. But unlike O'Dwyer there would appear to be evidence of very serious criminality (racketeering and money laundering) associated with Mr Dotcom. Also weapons were reported to have been recovered from his property in New Zealand, which I don't think was the case with O'Dwyer.

Ben said...

Lots more detail on Dotcom (Schmitz) and the arrests here http://www.3news.co.nz/Megauploads-Kim-Schmitz-arrested-in-Auckland-site-shut-down/tabid/412/articleID/240007/Default.aspx

and from the ever informative CMU Wesbite at http://www.thecmuwebsite.com/article/us-authorities-take-megaupload-offline-and-arrest-key-execs/