Yesterday, on the same day that major websites like Wikipedia, Wordpress, Reddit, and Wired went dark to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the Justice Department shut down Megaupload, one of the largest file-sharing sites on the Internet. The site’s seven founders were arrested in New Zealand and are accused of making $175 million in profits while costing copyright holders an estimated $500 million in revenue. They face up to 20 years in prison for violating international copyright laws. Lawyers for the men said Megaupload allows users to legitimately transfer large files. But the government maintains that the service is simply a front for piracy, racketeering, and money-laundering. Hackers responded swiftly to the crackdown, with the group Anonymous taking responsibility for briefly shutting down the Department of Justice and Universal Music Group websites.
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