MegaUpload raided, founder arrested; Anonymous launches mass DDoS against entertainment companies and US law enforcement

New Zealand police, responding from a request from the US government, raided MegaUpload today, arresting founder and CEO Kim ”Dotcom” Schmitz and three "associates." The service, which allowed users to upload files that were too big to email, claimed 150 million users. The entertainment industry alleged that the service was primarily intended to facilitate copyright infringement, since people could use it to illegally share music and movies, but the company claimed that while some users might infringe copyright with MegaUpload, others simply used it to share files that belonged to them. For example, I use a comparable service, YouSendIt, to exchange large MP3 files of my podcast with John Taylor Williams, the sound engineer who masters them. At other times, companies that wanted me to review their movies and music have uploaded them to a file locker and supplied me with the link and password to get them.

In response, a large denial-of-service attack ("OpMegaupload") has been launched against the US Department of Justice, the FBI, Universal Music and other entertainment and law-enforcement sites, by activists operating under the Anonymous banner.

MegaUpload has been waging an online campaign against Universal Music and US law enforcement and trade representatives, first releasing a video featuring famous artists singing an anthem in praise of MegaUpload, then suing Universal Music over false copyright claims that had the video removed from YouTube.

The Swedish Pirate Party strongly condemns raid against MegaUpload


  1. I am not surprised that this is happening right on the day after the SOPA/PIPA-protests. A “hacker-attack” from “pirates” and “anarchists” on the websites of FBI, RIAA, big entertainment corporations etc.
    Politicians and corporations  will now have reason to ask for more “internet-security”, public opinion shall shift towards the need of more control and less anarchy.

    1. I think people are able to realize that just because a meme takes off on the internet– Stop SOPA!– it doesn’t mean that most people are suddenly going to become informed on the issues.  Sadly.

    2. Public opinion just got a taste of what SOPA/PIPA has in store for the public. The inconvenience of not having RIAA and FBI sites is negligible for most of the public, some of which feel that they need to be taken down. Not having file-sharing sites… on the other hand…  

      I think the Fed and the “rights-holders” associations did serious damage, to themselves, that is.

      1. It shows instead, that the present forced upon us by the so-called “rights-holders” and their agents in government is bad enough, and that the future the will force upon us is infernal.

  2. As a Kiwi, this story is most interesting for the fact that the New Zealand police have become Americas lapdogs in this war on freedom of expression.

    1. Have you seen the film “Team America”. The whole world is either a lapdog or an enemy. An English chap is being extradited to the US for not commiting any crime in England but running a link site (somewhat like google) that hosts no pirate material itself. He’s looking at 10 years in the clink. Google are looking at another 10 billion dollars profit.

      Go figure.

      1. dont be ridiculous.  any US judge (no matter how much money u can throw at him) is going to laugh this case out of court. its simply a media story aimed at scaring people that this english boy is being “extradited” to the US. if he were to be convicted in any shape or form they d have to go and arrest mr schmidt next. he ll be back home soon. only thing hes gonna miss out on schoo./uni.

    2. If only. I quote Wikipedia:

      “New Zealand authorities were cooperating with the United States’ FBI and Justice Department, Hong Kong Customs and the Hong Kong Department of Justice, the Netherlands Police Agency and the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Serious Fraud and Environmental Crime in Rotterdam, London’s Metropolitan Police Service, Germany’s Bundeskriminalamt and the German Public Prosecutors, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Department of Justice in the investigation preceding the arrests.

      Ridiculous and awesome at the same time!

      1. Funny. Seeing as hosting a linking site in Canada isn’t even illegal so far as I know, I wonder how they are cooperating with New Zealand authorities?

        “Why yes the USA whom you are losing your sovereignty to are located just to the south of us. Was there anything else you wanted?”

  3. I don’t have any idea how many times I have clicked a link on a “Mega” site only to be greeted by a notice that “The following has been removed due to copyright infringement.” Which at least shows that they have a mechanism in place to appear to deal with infringing material.

    But more importantly, this episode illustrates that our government has sufficient resources and regulations at their disposal to pursue alleged infringement, negating the need for any additional capabilities as called for in SOPA/PIPA.

    1. An admitted pirate. 

      If you are an American citizen, expect to be sent outside of the country to have all relevant and irrelevant information tortured out of you.  If you aren’t an American citizen, expect your country’s police to be stopping by shortly, acting on orders from the US, to detain you and then extradite you.

      If you don’t like it then you should have been a member of the MPAA or the US Congress who are the only people for whom it is legal to accidentally borrow content.

    2. It also all to readily shows how they are willing to abuse their existing powers. US DOJ seizes all the assets and then files charges, so the accused can no longer properly afford to pay for lawyers to defend themselves, mwu ha ha. All such a childishly publicly corrupt distortion of the law, guilty until proven innocent and incapable of paying for their defence to prove their innocence.
      A perfect example of why they should definitely no been given more guilty until proven innocent powers.
      They also shut down the company and summarily fire all employees and seize those employees legally entitled pay and employment benefits. So screw those employees, their families, their mortgages etc. etc.
      Demonstrating once again the US government as puppets of lobbyists and the 1%.

      1. Isn’t this why lawyers are kept on retainer…especially if they are making millions of dollars a year in a market like this.

        -But then again keeping chat logs and emails basically stating you knew the company you worked for/ran was hosting primarily copyrighted works isn’t a bright move either.

      2. I don’t think you understand how the criminal justice system works. If I’m running a pawn shop and knowingly buy, sell, and solicit stolen goods my business gets shut down, my property seized and my employees are either complicit or out of a job for the duration of the criminal process.

        1. The Internet is expected — expected, mind — to operate under modified rules, based off the reality that with a site as large as Megaupload (as Google, as Reddit, as YouTube, etc), there is no feasible way to keep up with the amount of unauthorized content which is uploaded/submitted. Megaupload has been touted as one of the most responsive when it comes to reacting to DMCA claims and removing pirated content from their site… which apparently amounts to nothing, but nevertheless.

          1. Response time to DMCA complaints isn’t the reason MegaUpload is under indictment. If you read the indictment ( )  it details a number of statements and conversations had by the Mega staff and owners regarding illegal content, including how much they would pay uploaders for said content and howmuch they could afford to take down in compliance with DMCA requests while still retaining enough popular, illegal content.

  4. So, I’m not sure I understand the case here…

    Several suits against rapidshare came up empty-handed when judges ruled the site and operators were not liable for the content posted by the users of said site. Google isn’t being raided and shut down because of infringing content showing up on youtube and being directly pointed at by google search in a willful attempt to make money via advertising to people looking for infringing content.

    Megaupload had a system in place for copyright holders to enforce removal of infringing content and it worked. As far as I can tell they operated no different than rapidshare or any other file-locker site.

    Then there’s this gem from the indictment of megaupload:

    “Instead, the indictment alleges that the conspirators manipulated the perception of content available on their servers by not providing a public search function…”

    Didn’t the judges on the rapidshare case vs atari basically say rapidshare wasn’t in the wrong -because- they didn’t provide a search function? So search functions to find infringing content is illegal, and NOT providing a search function is “manipulated the perception of content available”……………

    And are they seriously saying in the indictment that megaupload “deleting” non-premium user content that lacked downloads (AKA, freeing up space so people actually using the service productively can use it) is somehow related to the owners of the site encouraging piracy?

    Maybe someone with a bit of legal background can explain exactly how this case holds any water……

    1. The case doesn’t hold any water.  They don’t care if it gets thrown out of court.  Their intent is to send a message.

      1. Or to provoke a response, which is exactly what it did. Now they can point to the DDoS attacks as justification to crack down on “cyber-terrorists” even more.

        1. Which incidentilly has both sides very nicely demonstrating to the world what a post sopa/pipa enviroment will look like. Sites taken down without any good justification and nothing you can do about it except hope that you don’t somehow get lumped in with the latest threat of the moment.

    2. IANAL but, let’s take a look at the indictment ( ). The highest profile is also the most dubious, being that MegaUpload used a hashing system to prevent duplicate files from being uploaded and on reaction to a DMCA complaint would only remove the offending link but not the actual file. (i.e. if there were 100 uploads of one file, 100 unique links would be created referencing the same file, and if a complaint were filed only the one cited link would be removed)

      The part of this where MegaUpload is most vulnerable is where the MegaUpload staff and owners are quoted as explicitly stating that they solicit and reward the uploading of copyrighted material. These fun bits start on and after page 21.

      1. It’s worth bearing in mind that prosecutors go balls to the wall with indictments alleging things they can’t actually prove because the purpose of the indictment is to convince a judge to actually bring the case to trial.  Based on this indictment it almost certainly will but I’d expect the prosecution to mightily pare down their case between now and then.

      2. Wow! If true that really is criminal behavior and I don’t see how anyone can defend that. If you are colluding with those who are engaged in criminal behavior you are guilty too and yes, your web site that you use to deliberately facilitate that criminal behavior should be removed and you go to jail.

        That’s what justice is. People who violate the rights of others should face prosecution and those who conspire with them to commit their crimes should also.

        Ideally this is what SOPA and PIPA should do. Go after the real criminals while not unduly burdening web sites like BoingBoing for checking every single off site link.

        BoingBoing has never advocated piracy and they have always said that illegal sharing is wrong and repugnant. What they are concerned about are laws that are too restrictive and make standard web practices illegal. Not about the legitimate pursuit of criminal behavior.

        1. But I always thought BB’s position on illegal sharing was a bit more … nuanced, if you will … than how you make it out. A link to the “illegal sharing is repugnant” claim, please?

  5. If MegaUpload was complying with the terms of the DMCA – and from all the “The following has been removed due to copyright infringement” messages, they were – then there was no legal basis for the raid and I suspect that all charges will ultimately be dropped or that MegaUpload will win if it goes to court.

    But the government knows this.  This wasn’t about whether they complied with the law.  It was about retribution for the insolence of daring to speak out against your masters.  

    1. You mean, if MegaUpload was complying with the terms of of New Zealand copyright law. Important difference.

      1. No. MegaUpload is being charged in the United States, where their servers were located. Whether there is enough in the charges to constitute extradition (hint, there probably is) remains to be seen.

      1. Tinfoil hats hurt worst when you arn’t even wearing ’em and things look kinda messed up.

      1. That and a convenient target to demonstrate we can have our little protest parties all we like. Boots will be put against our skulls to enforce their whims.

  6. Well it is so nice to see that CNN is being so very unbiased in the coverage they are providing…

    “”Hacktivist” collective Anonymous took credit for taking down the sites Thursday after the arrests of leaders of and shut down the popular hub for illegal media downloads.”

    The news comes as lawmakers have turned their attention to anti-piracy legislation. Protests erupted both online and offline this week against two bills under consideration in Congress: the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA).

    The bills are aimed at cracking down on copyright infringement by restricting access to sites that host or facilitate the trading of pirated content. But the legislation has created a divide between tech giants, who say the language is too broad, and large media companies, who say they are losing millions each year to rampant online piracy.
    (Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, is among the industry supporters of the legislation.)”

    We really should have laws against yellow journalism.

    Our government is corrupt, our media is corrupt, at what point do we do things more than just wring our hands about how horrible these things are.

    1. Wow, that’s just… revolting. Utterly disgusting. And there are people who think this is real, informative news coverage?

      As for the corruption, what can be done? The only system we have to fix it is, itself, utterly corrupt to the core. What’s worse, a huge percentage of the population doesn’t even see that as a problem.

      1. Portions of the system rely on making us feel like we did something by voting.  We get better turn out numbers for American Idol than for President.  I think its time we start informing people that the world is not flat, there is more out there than in your safe little Red/Blue bubble and its time to put the fear of the people back into them.

        insert overused quote about Governments fearing the people here

        We are on the verge of falling down the rabbit hole to that fantasy world, maybe we should burn them a copy so they can see how it ends.

        – grrr had to fix the insert thingy it parsed it…

  7. well, those guys are not exactly paladins of liberty and justice. just businessmen. they earned millions (from premium suscriptions, via PayPal, and also MoneyBrookers, AdBrite, PartyGaming, even the dreaded Megaclick!).
    as usual, it’s all about the buck.
    for me this is it’s essentialy a case of mobsters agains mobsters.

  8. It´s really comforting to see governments all over the world competing for the position as America´s most devoted lapdogs.
    On a related note, the Austrian government, like many others, decided yesterday to give the FBI unrestricted access to Austrian police records.

  9. BTW, this is why the rest of the planet should care about politics, politicians and all the half-assed laws the US serves up:  the US then enforces (or at least attempts to enforce) them both in the US and everywhere else.

  10. I don’t know why these guys keep doing this DDOS shit.  Why don’t they go after the mail spools instead?  There might be enough dirty laundry contained therein to roll these creepy bastards up nice-and-tidy.

    1. misdirection?
      While they are busy fending off the DDOS maybe they are hoping the backup will be posted on the server like what happened to ACS:Law….

    2. u think u can just hack into the FBI like that?  i think theres a chinese dude out there every single second of the day attempting just that. take down was good enough. more to come

  11. I mostly like the claim that they somehow cost the content industry hundreds of millions of dollars.  Because surely all the site’s users combined have hundreds of millions of dollars to spend on media, and if they couldn’t find the content anywhere online, they would’ve gone directly to the movie studios’ web stores and purchased the content at full MSRP.

    1. That claim is rooted largely in MegaUpload (and affiliates) having earned something like $175,000,000 in the past few years and all of the charged inviduals earning an annual income in excess of $1,000,000

    1. I just read the NYT article about the raid, and it certainly would make a good movie. Kim Dotcom holes up in a safe room in his mansion as the helicopters swoop in; the police slowly cut their way through while he waits with a sawed-off shotgun…

  12. so tell me something…  how is this business any different than say any number of thousands of businesses that cater to the drug paraphernalia industry?  we all know what the product MIGHT be used for, but it is still legal under the law to sell and buy because the products DO have legal uses.

    this action seems like the future will entail a “buffet-style,” of prosecution…pick and choose whom to ruin based upon some randomness rather than a strict adherence to the law.

    and don’t get me wrong, the law is wrong…

    1. This is a little different from paraphernalia. It’s closer to the Pawn Shop business, where there are certainly legal uses, but there is also a high risk of illegal uses to traffic in stolen merchandise. Looking at the indictment ( good stuff starts on page 21) it’s analogous to a pawn shop owner who has been recorded discussing how much they will pay for stolen merchandise, how they will act to pursue the procurement of more stolen merchandise, and in fact sells a bit of merchandise they, themselves, stole.

  13. Has anyone actually read the indictment? Megaupload had a system in place to remove “links” to illegal material but did not actually remove the material. All links for the same movie would go to the same file. And what about all the money MegaUpLoad made off of other people’s work? The subscriptions and advertising? Isn’t that against the Creative Commons code where only the copyright holder can profit from his/her work? Please lets all stop being disingenuous. Everyone knows Megaupload was primarily a pirate site, and all the denials ring hollow in the face of all the comments across the web bemoaning the loss of a major source of pirated material.

    1. Errr…..

      Just because the indictment says something doesn’t make it true.  I’m not arguing that MegaUpload didn’t have copyrighted material there, but I disagree about the “all links to the same movie would go to the same file”.  Not really sure why you’re taking the word of one party over the word of the other party here.

      The Creative Commons code is irrelevant to this discussion.  If you absolutely insist that it is somehow relevant, then you need to talk to Google/Yahoo about profiting from doing the exact same thing as MegaUpload. 

        1. Google’s entire business model is built on theft by proxy.  They are, essentially, profiting from the copyrighted works of others.  Whether the profit comes from advertisers or directly from users isn’t really relevant.  

          MegaUpload’s problem here wasn’t that they charged users, but that they crossed the line and got too greedy.

    2. Once upon a time they indicted women based on if they drown under a rock on their chest in the river.
      McCarthy indicted people based on fear and intimidation.
      Hitler indicted entire races as the source of all of the ills of the world.

      Just because you can make some people locked in a room believe things, doesn’t make them factual.

      There is infact still supposed to be due process, a presumption of innocence.
      Of course with wonderful shills out there casting dispersions….

      Hollywood had sex offenders working with kids, I don’t see anyone working on that.  Are imaginary property rights more important than children?  If you support the prosecution of Mega you are for child abusers being allowed to abuse children.

      Look I can do it too… :D

      1. This is too ridiculous to reply to other than to say it is too ridiculous to reply to. Wait . . . I just replied. Doh!

  14. I’m going to move somewhere where I am out of the US jurisdiction… maybe the Mars? aw forget it, they own the air, water, universe.
    Nothing is safe from the US Gov.

  15. Except that in this case absolutely nothing was stolen because PIRACY IS NOT STEALING.  Piracy is copyright infringement, which is an imaginary crime.

    What MegaUpload has been accused of is *facilitating* others to commit copyright infringement.  They are NOT accused of stealing physical merchandise themselves, or of selling stolen physical merchandise, or even facilitating others to sell stolen physical merchandise.

    Chuckleheads like yourself who intentionally conflate this important distinction are part of the problem.

  16. It seems pretty clear to me that the timing of this arrest, coming so quick after the failure of SOPA and PIPA, and almost immediately after the report of RIAA and MPAA people talking about no more donations to Obama, is meant to show the Democratic Big Entertainment contributors that their government is still willing to actively support/defend their interests.

    1. According to you are correct.  With Queen Barbara Boxer getting over $1 million and Al Franken getting some $777,000.  

  17. I’ve found Kim Schmitz to be a megalomaniacal paranoid douchebag. My guess is that he pulled the same bull on the DOJ that he did on me. I personally wanted to throttle him. He has that effect on people.  This is retribution. Count on it. Our government is made of people and it does not act with cool rationality. If some pissed off government attorney wanted revenge, he got it. 

    1. And it could have nothing to do with the fight with UMG and the new platform he was developing to allow artists to sell directly to fans and get 90% of the money.

  18. After reading the indictment, it appears that the DOJ have one or more insiders feeding them a lot of technical data and internal emails, etc.  Either that or they were able to hack into most of MegaUpload’s servers.  Either that or they’re making stuff up.  Most likely though, they got hold of a little guy and applied pressure to the gonad region until he squealed.  If they can prove half of what they claim, Kim & Friends are in trouble.

  19. Copyright holders have a right to go after criminals who violate their rights. Web sites like Megaupload that work with those criminals to help them commit their crimes are also guilty. Good anti-piracy legislation should enable law enforcement to pursue criminals while not penalizing those like BoingBoing who do not engage in wholesale criminal behavior.

    My understanding of BoingBoing’s and other’s objections to SOPA is that it doesn’t protect them from bogus and malicious charges NOT that those engaged to criminal behavior should go unpunished.

    1. SOPA was just a stupid law all around.  The DNS provisions were irrelevant, the power was given directly to corporations, there was no due process, there was no recourse for sites shut down in error, the entire “if you link to a site that has any questionable content, you can be shut down too” part….  SOPA would have screwed over the entire Internet and would have done absolutely nothing to combat piracy.

    2. I believe wholeheartedly in freedom of speech, and am against laws that impede it unnecessarily. But you can’t possibly be following the arguments on both sides if you believe that, as a rule, the anti-SOPA people want to see unlawful file sharing criminally punished, and only want to see authorized file sharing protected against industry overreaching. There would be no need for the “piracy is good for the music/movie/etc. industry (arguments that appear in this forum not infrequently) if this were the case.

    3. Megaupload can be used for good or evil.
      You just hear about the evil and assume they are 100% that way.

      I heard someone was shot with a gun once, shall we round up and seize all of the manufacturers of guns because all I ever hear is stories of people using guns to commit crimes so that must be their only use.

      1. I think the analogy would be “what if gun manufacturers encouraged and profited from people shooting each other”.  Not saying they don’t… But read the part in the indictment about MegaUpload removing links to files but not the files themselves. That’s pretty clearly willfully profiting from piracy.

        Of course, the whole bit about confiscating all that property without any sort of trial or conviction, and invading a home half way around the world, is a bit insane…

        1. Also its a statement made by people who claim paying the hosting bills was laundering money.
          The indictment was made on one sides version of the truth which most likely was embellished to get the outcome they wanted.  There has been no challenge allowed to the statements made, and if proven false what is the remedy the damage has been done.

  20. What the feds have on Megaupload

    When a user complained that the sound wasn’t in sync with the video when they watched episodes of Showtime’s Dexter, Dotcom forwarded the email and said they should “solve this asap!”

    He criticized employees in April 2009 for deleting links that were “reported in batches of thousands from insignificant sources.”

    In July 2010, Dotcom sent a link to a news article titled “Pirate Bay and Megaupload Escape Domain Seizure by US,” calling the U.S. government’s effort to crackdown “a serious threat to our business”

    Kim Dotcom “barricaded himself into a safe room within the house which officers had to cut their way into.” When they got inside, they “found Mr Dotcom near a firearm which had the appearance of a shortened shotgun.”

    They knew what they were doing and they knew it was illegal.

  21. Note on the history of file sharing.  In the 1950s there was a jukebox system where all of the records were played from a set of turntables in a central office.  The “box” in the bar, or wherever, was basically an intercom system.  You pushed a button and asked the Jukebox Girl at the other end to put your record on.  An Ur-Napster!

    Anyone ever actually seen one of these things?  I’ve only ever heard about it in the Old Radio episode of “This is your FBI”: ‘The License to Kill”, January 20, 1950.  You can listen to it on the Radio Jukebox at, song #133.  The description of the system and the segue to the Jukebox Central start at 2 minutes in.

    1. Yep, if you take the government’s word at face value, it does sound pretty bad.

      That, however, is never a good idea…

  22. Am I the only one thinking, “Cory, why are you sending MP3 files to be mastered? Send uncompressed!”

  23. Well I’m pissed because I had some old schoolwork files on there. I’m hoping beyond hope that they’ll release the ‘non-infringing’ files but I highly doubt they will.

  24. what about my files that were on megaupload?  Should I bring a case against the DOJ for restricting access to my private property?

  25. Mr Schmitz is the right kind of 1%er, so he gets support from Anonymous. I was thinking they weren’t like any other PAC. What a relief. It’s still the world I’m used to.

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