Strike-Counterstrike: SOPA/PIPA Internet Freedom War Begins in Earnest

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Internet Wars: Anonymous Attacks DOJ After Feds Shut Down Megaupload
Kurt Nimmo l
Following a wildly successful protest against SOPA and PIPA internet censorship legislation on Wednesday, the Department of Justice “conducted a major action” on Thursday and shuttered MegaUpload, a popular file-sharing site accused of trading in copyrighted movies and televisions shows.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which defends free speech and digital rights online, said in a statement that, “This kind of application of international criminal procedures to Internet policy issues sets a terrifying precedent.
If the United States can seize a Dutch citizen in New Zealand over a copyright claim, what is next?”
Following action by a grand jury, the feds arrested four people and executed more than 20 search warrants in the United States and eight foreign countries. They seized 18 domain names and around $10 million in assets, including a number of servers.

The grand jury indictment accuses Megaupload of causing $500 million in damages to copyright owners and of making $175 million through selling ads and premium subscriptions, according to the New York Times.

The conspicuously timed raid “on Megaupload Thursday proved that the feds don’t need SOPA or its sister legislation, PIPA, in order to pose a blow to the Web,” writes the AnonOps Communications blog.

As if to underscore the government’s determination to close down domains with or without legislation, the DOJ and the FBI released a statement Thursday characterizing the charges as “among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime.”

The technology site Gigaom has posted details of the indictment against Megaupload.

Fifteen minutes after Megaupload disappeared from the internet, the hacker group Anonymous launched denial of service attack on websites run by Universal Music, the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Copyright Office, the Motion Picture Association of America, and the Recording Industry Association of America.

“Megaupload was taken down w/out SOPA being law. Now imagine what will happen if it passes. The Internet as we know it will end. FIGHT BACK,” Anonymous said in a tweet.

The Twitter account under the name @YourAnonNews identifies itself as the hacker collective and states: “We are Anonymous, We are legion, We never forgive, We never forget, Expect us.”

Mass piracy suspects from have been denied bail by a New Zealand court. The shutdown of the file sharing site provoked the largest operation in years by hacker group Anonymous, which attacked US authorities and entertainment moguls.

A US court has indicted Kim Dotcom and three others of offences including copyright infringement, money laundering and racketeering. Three of their alleged accomplices are still at large.

Judge David McNaughton sided with US prosecutors and ordered the four people, who had been arrested during simultaneous raids on ten addresses in nine countries on Thursday, remain in custody till Monday.

The group, branded “Mega Conspiracy” by the indictment, operated the file sharing service and several related sites. Prosecutors charge that the websites were used to distribute pirated content on a grand scale.

The content included material not yet available through commercial networks, namely the movie Taken, which appeared at the website in October 2008, but was not distributed in the US until January 2009.

And this case is far from being the only one. In a separate and better-known case, an unfinished copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine appeared on the web in March 2009 long before its theater release. The perpetrator, Gilberto Sanchez, who was subsequently sentenced to a year in jail, used to pirate the movie.

The executives of the ring made money by selling ads and premium accounts, the indictment alleges. The FBI and Department of Justice say they netted $175 million in criminal proceeds while causing an estimated $500 million harm to copyright holders. The property seized as part of the crackdown includes, among other things, a dozen posh cars including Rolls Royce and Lamborghini, expensive home electronics and objects of art.

The owner and employees of the service, which claims to be the world's 13th most visited site, said the crackdown was out of all proportion and based on wrong facts.

­Hacker retaliation
In response to the shut-down of the file sharing website, the hacker group Anonymous launched a massive online attack on websites of the FBI, DoJ and several entertainment giants. The attack, which managed to take down the targets, some for several hours, was reportedly the largest such effort by the group in years, with some 5,600 activists collaborating.

Anonymous maintained the blackout was just part of a larger assault on those they blame for attacking Internet freedoms. The group has not admitted responsibility for attacking US federal government institutions, although it did target those of Iran, Australia and Sweden on various occasions. The assault may call for a tougher-than-usual reaction from the US authorities.

The shut-down of came just a day after tens of thousands of websites blacked out their content or in other ways voiced their opposition to the anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA. If made law, opponents say, they would give unprecedented powers to prosecutors and copyright holders. The fear is that these powers would be abused and destroy the Internet as we know it.

Civil war threat
Internet censorship is not the only fear raised by the Megaupload case. Barrett Brown, who has worked with Anonymous before, told RT the latest hacker attacks are just the start as more groups are set to appear, with serious consequences for the US.

“In the very near future… there will be a number of other groups that will pop up using more military methods, and the situation will get worse and the things will escalate until such point as inevitable civil war in the US occurs,” he claimed.

Brown also believes that SOPA would give the US government unprecedented power over the contents of the Internet, up to and including free speech.

“The decision by the FBI to close down Megaupload and arrest its owners was very badly timed,” he said. “When it was discovered this morning that it has happened, it took about 70 minutes for a press release to go out and then for the Justice Department website to be DDoS-attacked [by Anonymous].”

Brown argues that the track record of the US government shows that given an inch, it will take a mile.In other words, giving it power to do one thing is always interpreted as a means of taking power over many other things.

“This raid on Megaupload shows that even without SOPA already in place, here they are already arresting the owners of Megaupload and shutting it down. So imagine when SOPA is passed,” he said.


RT has more videos and stories posted today on this rapidly developing story. First this one with 2 videos including New Zealand court proceedings recording:

Then this one:

A lot of good those Wednesday blackouts did for the Internet. Not.

One day after thousands of websites temporarily shut-down to highligt the dangers of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), federal prosecutors have pulled the plug on, a website that was at one time among the top 20 most popular sites in the world.

American authorities helped issue arrests on Thursday for four people in New Zealand that they say are responsible for the website. According to the official indictment, unsealed the same day, Megaupload is being accused of costing copyright holders upwards of $500 million in lost revenues because of content illegally uploaded to its servers.

Megaupload is one of many highly visited websites that allows users to upload any media of their choice that might be too large for traditional online distribution. In lieu of email and instant messaging, users of Megaupload and similar sites can upload massive digital files and then pass the link to others across the world for easy download. The website claims that it has always been diligent in handling complaints regarding pirated material, but authorities have taken Megaupload offline while they investigate.

In a statement published by the US Department of Justice on the website for the Federal Bureau of Investigation Thursday afternoon, they call the charges “among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime.”

The news comes only hours after thousands of sites repealed a temporary blackout in opposition to SOPA and PIPA, which garnered support from sites including Wikipedia, Reddit and Google.

Kim Dotcom, formerly Kim Schmitz, was among the four in New Zealand that were arrested on Thursday for violating piracy laws. The company itself is listed as being based out of Hong Kong and names musician Swizz Beatz, husband to Grammy winner Alicia Keys, as its CEO. Dotcom is being pegged by authorities as the founder of Megaupload Limited and is among a roster of other persons accused of being affiliated, which includes citizens of the Netherlands, Estonia, Germany and Slovakia.

Back in America though, law enforcement officials conducted search warrants related to the charges, and seized, internationally, $50 million in assets.

While Megaupload is traditionally a free service, users are granted added incentives for purchasing subscriptions to the site. Advertisements are sold on its pages as well.

The Department of Justice writes that “for more than five years the conspiracy has operated websites that unlawfully reproduce and distribute infringing copies of copyrighted works, including movies — often before their theatrical release — music, television programs, electronic books and business and entertainment software on a massive scale.” The site has advertised on its own that it is visited by around 50 million users each day and constitutes for four percent of the Internet’s traffic. The DoJ believes those running the operation have netted more than $175 million in illegal profits by selling ads and subscriptions on the site.

According to the DoJ statement, “conspirators conducted their illegal operation using a business model expressly designed to promote uploading of the most popular copyrighted works for many millions of users to download.” Before going dark, however, Megaupload posted a statement on its website shunning allegations of wrongdoings.

"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," wrote the administrators.

Also this one:


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