DOJ files additional charges in Megaupload case

The defendants face new charges of criminal copyright infringement and wire fraud

The operators of file-sharing site Megaupload are facing new charges, after the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a superseding indictment charging the nine defendants with additional counts of criminal copyright infringement and wire fraud.

The superseding indictment, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia Thursday, alleges that the defendants reproduced materials from other websites, including YouTube, and made them available on Megaupload.

The defendants, including seven people and two companies, were originally charged in a five-count indictment returned on Jan. 5. The original charges were conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two substantive counts of copyright infringement. Law enforcement agencies have arrested five of the seven people indicted and have seized US$50 million in assets.

The people charged in the case are Kim Dotcom, Finn Batato, Julius Bencko, Sven Echternach, Mathias Ortmann, Andrus Nomm and Bram Van Der Kolk. Earlier this month, Megaupload founder Dotcom was denied bail in New Zealand.

The superseding indictment also contains new information about an alleged user of the service. The user, identified as VV in the indictment, uploaded 16,950 files to Megavideo.com and Megaupload.com, generating more than 34 million page views, according to the indictment.

VV was the subject of "numerous" takedown notices complaining about copyright infringement, including 85 notices from one representative, the DOJ said. VV received five award payments, totalling $3,400, from Megaupload in 2008 and 2009, the indictment said.

The superseding indictment also identifies new assets subject to seizure by U.S. authorities, including property, bank accounts, jet skis, jewelry and watches.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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