Giant file-sharing site Megaupload has been shut down; federal charges for piracy follow

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The Feds have shut down Megaupload, one of the Internet’s largest file-sharing sites.

Government officials denied a link to Wednesday’s protests against the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Megaupload’s founder and others have been charged with violating piracy laws. The Justice Department said in a statement said that Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz, and three others were arrested Thursday in New Zealand at the request of U.S. officials. Two other defendants are at large.

Federal prosecutors have accused them of costing copyright holders more than $500 million in lost revenue — labeling this “among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States.” The indictment says at one point Megaupload was the 13th most popular Web site in the world.

“It begs the question,” Gartner’s media distribution expert Mike McGuire told the BBC, “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 U.S.-only and potentially damaging.”

Megaupload, meanwhile, says it was diligent in responding to complaints about pirated material. Before the site was taken down, it posted a statement saying allegations that it facilitated massive breaches of copyright laws were “grotesquely overblown.”

The Hong Kong-based company listed Swizz Beatz, a musician who married Alicia Keys in 2010, as its CEO.

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