This read is particularly intriguing to me. Edited for a bit of dialogue as well as content:
Police in New Zealand raided several homes and businesses linked to the founder of Megaupload.com today. Megaupload is a huge file-sharing site that was shut down by U.S. authorities. During the raid they seized guns, millions of dollars, and nearly $5 million in luxury cars.
Police arrested founder Kim Dotcom and three Megaupload employees pictured below yesterday (Thursday). The U.S. Feds accuse them of facilitating millions of illegal downloads of films, music and other content, costing copyright holders at least $500 million in lost revenue. Extradition proceedings against them could last a year or more.
Magaupload is based in Hong Kong and Kim Dotcom lives in New Zealand, but some of the alleged pirated content was hosted on leased servers in Virginia, and that was what gave U.S. the means to infiltrate their conglomerate.
The seized cars include a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe worth more than $400,000 as well as several Mercedes. Two short-barreled shotguns and a number of valuable artworks were also confiscated, 2010 Maserati and a pink Cadillac. One Mercedes had the personalized license place “MAFIA,”while another had a plated that read “CEO.”
When police arrived in two marked police helicopters, and identified themselves Mr. Dotcom ran into the house and activated several electronic locking mechanisms. Police deactivated the locks and the he barricaded himself into a safe room within the house which officers had to cut their way into. Shook!!!
When they got into the room they found Dotcom near a sawed-off shotgun. Sounds like some stuff from a movie. These guys immediately went from ballin’ to broke in a matter of days.
‘Nothing to hide’
Dotcom’s lawyer raised objections to a media request to take photographs and video, but then Dotcom spoke, saying he didn’t mind photos or video “because we have nothing to hide.” The judge granted the media access, and ruled that the four would remain in custody until a second hearing Monday.
Megaupload has retained Washington, D.C. power attorney Bob Bennett in the case, according to a person inside the company. Bennett is best known for representing former President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The person within Megaupload spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the company’s plans.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which defends free speech and digital rights online, said in a statement that the arrests set “a terrifying precedent. If the United States can seize a Dutch citizen in New Zealand over a copyright claim, what is next?”
Before Megaupload was taken down, the company posted a statement saying allegations that it facilitated massive breaches of copyright laws were “grotesquely overblown.”
“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,” the statement said.
Several sister sites were also shut down, including one dedicated to sharing pornography files.
News of the shutdown seemed to bring retaliation from hackers who claimed credit for attacking the Justice Department’s and FBI websites. Federal officials confirmed the Justice Department site was down for hours Thursday evening, and that the disruption was being “treated as a malicious act.”
A loose affiliation of hackers known as “Anonymous” claimed credit for the attacks. Also hacked was the site for the Motion Picture Association of America.
According to the indictment, Megaupload was estimated at one point to be the 13th most frequently visited website on the Internet. Current estimates by companies that monitor Web traffic place it in the top 100.
The website allowed users to download some content for free, but made money by charging subscriptions to people who wanted access to faster download speeds or extra content. The website also sold advertising.
Megaupload was unique not only because of its massive size and the volume of downloaded content, but also because it had high-profile support from celebrities, musicians and other content producers who are most often the victims of copyright infringement and piracy. Before the website was taken down, it contained endorsements from Kim Kardashian, Alicia Keys and Kanye West, among others.
The company listed Swizz Beatz, a musician who married Keys in 2010, as its CEO. He was not named in the indictment and, via a representative, declined to comment, but I bet his arse it terrified and he should be. I know I would be. BTW, Swizzy is the #1 trending topic on Yahoo right now. UPDATED to add that Switzz and his lawyers deny that he is CEO of Megaupload
Deep….a mile deep.