The FBI Takes Issue With Megaupload


The Hong Kong based company, Megaupload, was what all the cool kids were using in 2010 or so.  The company allowed file sharing and downloading.  Started in 2005, Megaupload quickly became very popular.  Megaupload was soon bringing in millions of users, and millions of dollars a year. 

The company was run by Kim Dotcom.  Now, you might think that Kim Dotcom might be a cute cyber punk type girl.  You would be very wrong.  Kim was actually born Kim Schmitz, and is a massively overweight, somewhat slovenly, German man who lives in New Zealand.  He changed his legal name to Kim Dotcom in 2006. 

Megaupload provided little in terms of oversight and regulation.  This setup immediately led to people posting just about anything on the site for other individuals to use.  Copyrighted materials were allowed up on the site with no regard to legal or financial requirements.  New music and movies were available sometimes before they were available to the general public. Takedown notices were simply ignored. 

The FBI and DOJ began an international investigation into the company based on their use of copyrighted materials.  On January 19, 2012, the FBI seized the Megaupload site based on the federal indictment of the company under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  The DOJ alleged that stated that Megaupload was costing copyright holders and legitimate businesses $500 million in revenue from allegedly infringing movies, music, and other media.

Kim Dotcom was arrested the day after the FBI seized Megaupload.  New Zealand Police, at the request of the FBI, conducted a large raid at Dotcom’s compound in Coatesville.  Both his physical and financial assets were seized and evidence and money were turned over to the FBI.  Dotcom was put in jail to await extradition procedures. 

When Megaupload got seized by the FBI, the internet went crazy.  Numerous hackers, many associated with the “Anonymous” group attacked the US Government.  Several sites including the FBI’s were the subject of DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks that overloaded their websites with false requests.  

New Zealand high courts initially ruled that the raid on Kim Dotcom and dissemination of evidence to the FBI was illegal because it was too broad and did not clearly show that the assets were related to Megaupload.  Dotcom got most of his assets returned.  His extradition hearing is a remarkable case of legal wrangling.  The judges in New Zealand must take one day off from sheepherding a month to sit on the bench.  The New Zealand Supreme Court decided as late as 2020 that Dotcom could be extradited to the US.  However, Dotcom is still fighting extradition (not sure how that works) and is still living comfortably in New Zealand.    

Christopher Flanagan 

photo By FBI Anti-Piracy – + + +, Public Domain


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