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Feds pile more criminal charges onto Megaupload

February 17, 2012 |  1:13 pm

Megaupload
Federal prosecutors obtained a new indictment against Megaupload and its top executives this week, replacing and expanding on the one a grand jury handed down in January. The latest version alleges 13 separate violations of federal law -- eight more than the original -- including new charges of willfully infringing copyrighted content from YouTube and committing wire fraud.

The latter are based on allegations that Megaupload misled copyright holders into believing that their takedown requests had resulted in copyrighted movies and TV shows being removed, when in fact the company had removed only some of the links, and the files were still available for downloading. The message to other sites is clear: In the feds' view, complying with a takedown request means doing more than making a file harder to find. It means actually removing it from the server.

The most interesting new nugget of information, though, was this one from the indictment's general allegations:

Megaupload.com was at one point in its history estimated to be the 13th most frequently visited website on the entire Internet. The site claims to have had more than one billion visitors in its history, more than 180,000,000 registered users to date, an average of 50 million daily visits, and to account for approximately four percent of the total traffic on the Internet. As of January 19, 2012, there were actually approximately 66.6 million users registered in the Mega Conspiracy's internal database records; of these registered users, the records further show that, at most, only 5.86 million users had ever uploaded a single file to either Megaupload.com or Megavideo.com.

Nearly 6 million users uploading files is a huge number. But the low percentage of uploaders is more typical of a file-sharing network, where the primary use is downloading files, as opposed to creating online backups or collaborating online with co-workers -- the sorts of activities that typify a legitimate cloud-based locker service.

RELATED:

Feds push novel theories in Megaupload case

Legal hurdles to retrieving files from Megaupload

Should the feds have more power to seize domain names?

-- Jon Healey

Credit: AFP Photo / Megaupload.com

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