In the latest development in the fast-breaking Megaupload case, the Department of Justice is reporting that it has seized a huge stash of expensive items from defendants facing charges of criminal file-sharing. Goods include a fleet of cars: 15 Mercedes Benz vehicles, a Rolls-Royce, a Maserati and a rare Lamborghini. The DOJ also seized bank accounts and PayPal accounts, 60 computer servers and a slew of large-screen TVs, among many other items.
Especially noteworthy are the license plates the DOJ says the defendants used on the cars. The plate on the Rolls reads "GOD," while other cars have license plates such as "GOOD," "EVIL," "STONED," "GUILTY," "MAFIA" and "HACKER."
The popular file-sharing site was shut down this week by federal prosecutors in Virginia, who accused the defendants of causing more than $500 million in damages for copyright holders of pirated music, movies, video games and other content. Hip-hop producer Swizz Beatz was revealed as a silent partner and the company's CEO, though he was not included on an initial list of seven defendants. Four of the seven were arrested Friday morning in New Zealand, after a standoff at Dotcom Mansion – named for the site's alleged founder, who goes by the name Kim Dotcom (born Kim Schmitz). The other three defendants reportedly remain at large.
In response to the DOJ takedown, the hacker group Anonymous has taken credit for cyberattacks yesterday that disabled the websites of the DOJ, the RIAA, Universal Music Group and others. Meanwhile, Megaupload is attempting to go back online, using an IP address while awaiting a new domain name. In a week marked by Web-based protests of the proposed legislation known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the move raises questions about the potential success of such efforts to eliminate content piracy.