In a case involving the Megaupload file-sharing site, an Estonian programmer who was Head of the Development Software Division for the site pleaded guilty to felony copyright infringement in Virginia and was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison.

Andrus Nõmm, 36, was first arrested in the Netherlands in 2012 and fought extradition to the US for several years.

Conspiracy Theories

Nõmm, along with six other individuals and two privately held corporations, was charged with three separate conspiracies:

  • conspiracy to commit racketeering
  • conspiracy to commit copyright infringement
  • conspiracy to commit money laundering

The indictment against the co-conspirators alleges that for more than five years they operated websites that “willfully reproduced and distributed infringing copies of copyrighted works, including works that had not been commercially released.”

Harm Due to Piracy

According to a US Department of Justice press release,

This conviction is a significant step forward in the largest criminal copyright case in U.S. history. The Mega conspirators are charged with massive worldwide online piracy of movies, music and other copyrighted U.S. works.

According to the US indictment against him, Nõmm received more than $100,000 from the “Mega Conspiracy.” Nõmm acknowledged in court papers that the group earned at least $175 million from piracy and that it caused harm to copyright owners in excess of $400 million.

Megaupload.com claimed that, at one time, it had 150 million registered users and 50 million daily visitors and accounted for 4% of all internet traffic.

The site was established in 2005 and shut down in 2012 after the site owners were indicted for copyright infringement. In the wake of the shutdown, the hacker group known as Anonymous claimed to have launched a denial of service attack against websites belonging to the US government and copyright-protection organizations.

Megaupload was based in Hong Kong, and its assets, valued at US $42 million, were frozen by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.

The company’s founder, who changed his name to Kim Dotcom in 2005, and five other co-defendants continue to fight extradition from outside the US.

Putting Pirates in Prison

Intellectual property owners who are victims of piracy can work with law enforcement to bring criminal charges against those who engage in IP theft.

Questions?

If you have questions about protecting your intellectual property, please contact our office at 626-796-4000 or toll-free at 855-UR-IDEAS (855-874-3327) for a free initial consultation with one of our intellectual property attorneys. Please also visit our website for more information about us.

Photo Attribution: FBI Anti-Piracy via Wikimedia Commons [Public domain].

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