Over two years since notorious cyberlocker Megaupload was shut down on January 19, 2012, Hollywood today has gone on the legal offensive. Disney, 20th Century Fox Film, Paramount Pictures, Universal, Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros. today filed a mega-lawsuit against the site and its principals in federal court in Virginia (read it here). Alleging that the site infringed upon “thousands of plaintiffs’ copyrighted works,” the studios and the MPAA are seeking million in damages from the profits Megaupload made off their copyrighted material or “the maximum statutory damages, in the amount of $150,000 per infringement,” as the 21-page complaint says. All of which means potential billions and billions.
“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,” said the MPAA’s SEVP and Global General Counsel Steven Fabrizio today. “Megaupload — and sites like it that are built on stolen works — damage the consumer experience online and undermine the creators who don’t get compensated for their work,” he added. This case starts up as the Department of Justice case against Megaupload and its New Zealand-based founder Kim DotCom, who is among the defendants here, languishes in the courts. Since the early 2012 action, Dotcom has fought the DoJ and so far resisted attempts to extradite him to the U.S. The studios decided to bring their case home and went after Megaupload in Virginia because of the site’s business dealings with Carpathia Hosting. The Dulles, Virginia-based company allegedly provided at least 525 servers to the defendants in the court’s jurisdiction. What remains to be seen is if the federal court will buy that as the government’s case continues.
Julie Carpenter, Ken Doroshow and Scott Wilkens and Erica Ross of the Washington D.C. office of Jenner & Block LLP are representing the studios in the case.