Studios Sue Owners of Shuttered MegaUpload Piracy Site7 Apr, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Major Hollywood studios April 7 filed a lawsuit against Megaupload and its key operators — Kim Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, and Bram van der Kolk — alleging the defendants facilitated, encouraged, and profited from massive copyright infringement of movies and television shows before the operation was shut down by U.S. officials in 2012.
The suit — filed by 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, Disney Enterprises, Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp., Universal City Studios Productions LLLP, Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, seeks a jury trial and at least $150,000 in damages for each act of infringement, among other charges.
The studios claim that Megaupload, which was founded in 2011, at its peak had 180 million registered users and represented 4% of all Internet traffic. It supposedly generated millions from subscriptions while encouraging users to upload infringed files of 30 popular Hollywood movies, including Bad Teacher, Alice in Wonderland, Toy Story 3, Cars 2, Transformers, True Grit, Tangled, Wanted and Back to the Future, among others.
“Infringing content on Megaupload.com and its affiliates was available in at least 20 languages, targeting a broad global audience. According to the government’s indictment, the site reported more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and cost U.S. copyright owners more than half a billion dollars,” Steven Fabrizio, SEVP and global general counsel of the Motion Picture Association of America, said in a statement. “Megaupload wasn’t a cloud storage service at all, it was an unlawful hub for mass distribution.”
Fabrizio said subscribers were encouraged to upload pirated movies, which were then infringed by myriad other users.
“That’s not a storage facility,” Fabrizio said. That’s a business model designed to encourage theft – and make its owners very rich in the process. There’s nothing new or innovative about that. That’s just a profiteer using existing technology to try to get rich off of someone else’s hard work.”