The US Department of Justice announced today that it has added three additional charges of copyright infringement against the defendants in its case against Megaupload. That brings the total number of copyright infringement charges to five, and the total number of charges against the defendants to eight. Justice also revealed more information about the company’s failure to properly respond to take-down notices, and its alleged efforts to hide the extent of its purported copyright infringement.
“Among the additional criminal copyright infringement charges that were added, the defendants are alleged to have reproduced copyrighted works directly from third-party websites, including from YouTube.com, to make them available for reproduction and distribution on Megavideo.com, and to create the false impression that Megavideo.com hosted primarily user-generated content instead of copyright-infringing content,” DoJ said in an email announcement sent to Digital Trends.
The DoJ also revealed that earlier reports that Megaupload had 180 million users were false. According to the company’s internal computer systems, the actual number of users across Megaupload’s properties was about 66.6 million, as of January 19, 2012. Of those, only 5.86 million users ever uploaded any files to Megaupload.com or Megavideo.com, meaning more than 90 percent of users only used the sites to download content.
Other new information about Megaupload includes:
- One repeat alleged infringer referred to as “VV” was identified as a registered user for nearly six years (uu):
- VV had been the subject of numerous takedown emails, including 85 notices from one representative, to Megavideo since 2008;
- VV received five “rewards” payments from the Mega Conspiracy totaling $3,400 in 2008 and 2009;
- VV uploaded approximately 16,950 files to Megavideo.com and Megaupload.com, which generated more than 34 million views;
- VV’s uploads included infringing copies of popular copyrighted motion pictures, including Ocean’s Thirteen, Ratatouille, and Evan Almighty;
- Internal records reflect no deletions of any of VV’s uploaded files;
- The Mega Conspiracy created a computer system architecture which kept its most frequently downloaded files in memory (rather than in storage) on a number of dedicated high-end servers. Most of the files on these servers were infringing copies of copyrighted works. (8)
- As part of the wire fraud charges, there is additional information regarding the alleged steps to falsely represent to rights holders that infringing content had been removed, when it was never removed.
Megaupload’s network was shut down on January 19. So far, five of the seven individuals, including Megaupload co-founder and CEO Kim Dotcom, have been arrested. The defendants face charges that include conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit money laundering, copyright infringement and wire fraud. According to the indictment, copyright holders claim Megaupload caused them to lose “well in excess” of $500 million.
Megaupload allegedly made more than $175 million through advertising and paid memberships. Authorities have so far at least $50 million in assets. The DoJ says authorities also plan to seize additional assets, including “property, bank accounts, jet skis, jewelry, and watches.”
Kim Dotcom, who is currently imprisoned in New Zealand, where he lived, has repeatedly been denied bail on the basis that he is a flight risk. Megaupload co-founder Mathias Ortmann was freed on bail this week, but faces strict conditions including no Internet access.
View the full updated indictment against Megaupload below:DoJ Indictment against Megaupload 2.16.12
Updated with additional information about the number of charges at 5:10 pm ET