By Paula Bernstein | Indiewire April 7, 2014 at 4:00PM
U.S. law enforcement officials shut down Megaupload, the movie piracy site, back in 2012, but today, six major U.S. movie studios have filed a lawsuit against the cyberlocker site and its key operators, alleging that they profited from massive copyright infringement.
"When Megaupload.com was shut down in 2012 by U.S. law enforcement, it was by all estimates the largest and most active infringing website targeting creative content in the world," said Steven Fabrizio, Senior Executive Vice President and Global General Counsel of the Motion Picture Association of America. "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."
The lawsuit, which does not specify the amount the studios are seeking to collect from Megaupload, was filed by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Disney Enterprises, Inc., Paramount Pictures Corporation, 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.
"Megaupload was built on an incentive system that rewarded users for uploading the most popular content to the site, which was almost always stolen movies, TV shows and other commercial entertainment content. It paid users based on how many times the content was downloaded by others – and didn’t pay at all until that infringing content was downloaded 10,000 times. Megaupload wasn’t a cloud storage service at all, it was an unlawful hub for mass distribution," Fabrizio said. "To be clear, if a user uploaded his term paper to store it, he got nothing – and, in fact, unless he was a paying subscriber, Megaupload would delete the paper if it was not downloaded frequently enough. But if that same user uploaded a stolen full-length film that was repeatedly infringed, he was paid for his efforts. That’s not a storage facility; 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."
A copy of the complaint can be found here.