The US government has shut down one of the world's largest filesharing destinations, calling the service an "international organized criminal enterprise allegedly responsible for massive worldwide online piracy." In cooperation with the United States, New Zealand arrested four MegaUpload executives including founder Kim Dotcom today, while authorities are pursuing three other site operators.
The charges stand "among the largest criminal copyright cases investigations ever brought by the [US]" and investigations are underway in the Netherlands, Philippines, UK, Hong Kong, Germany, and Canada. The DOJ issued over 20 search warrants in the US and eight other countries, seizing more than $50 million in assets, including a luxury car collection as well as 18 MegaUpload-related domains.
The filing says Dotcom and his associates are responsible for $175 million in criminal proceeds (i.e. income via subscription fees and advertising) on top of costing copyright owners more than $500 million in lost revenue. Ironically, TorrentFreak notes that only a few weeks ago, Dotcom boasted that his ventures had nothing to worry about (legally speaking) because they complied with the law.
Dotcom, his workers, MegaUpload Limited and Vestor Limited (another firm associated with Dotcom) are charged with two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement, engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, as well as conspiring to commit copyright infringement and money laundering. If convicted, they could face 50+ years in prison for the combined charges (TorrentFreak offers a breakdown).