The Department of Justice announced Thursday that it has conducted a major action to shut down MegaUpload, a popular file-sharing site widely used for free downloads of movies and television shows.
After receiving indictments from a grand jury in Virginia for racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and other charges on Jan. 5, federal authorities on Thursday arrested four people and executed more than 20 search warrants in the U.S. and eight foreign countries, seizing 18 domain names and an estimated $50 million in assets, including servers run in Virginia and Washington, D.C.
MegaUpload is a “digital locker” that allows users to store files that can then be streamed or downloaded by others. Its subsidiary site MegaVideo became very popular for the unauthorized downloads of movies and TV shows. Users whose uploaded content proved particularly popular were paid for their participation.
According to the indictment, the operators of MegaUpload earned more than $175 million in illegal profits and caused an estimated $500 million in harm to copyright holders.
The site is advertised as having more than 50 million daily visitors, according to federal authorities.
Four of MegaUpload’s operators have been arrested in New Zealand, while three more remain at large. The seven each face a maximum of 55 years in prison.