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The US government dropped a nuclear bomb on "cyberlocker" site Megaupload today, seizing its domain names, grabbing $50 million in assets, and getting New Zealand police to arrest four of the site's key employees, including enigmatic founder Kim Dotcom. In a 72-page indictment unsealed in a Virginia federal court, prosecutors charged that the site earned more than $175 million since its founding in 2005, most of it based on copyright infringement. As for the site's employees, they were paid lavishly and they spent lavishly.
For more than a year, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America have argued that existing laws were insufficient to deal with the problem of "rogue sites" hosted overseas. They've been pushing bills like the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act as essential weapons in the fight. But evidently, American law enforcement didn't get the memo that they were powerless against overseas file-sharing services. The day after the Internet's historic protest of SOPA and PIPA last week, the United States government unsealed an indictment against the people behind Megaupload, one of the largest sites on the Internet.
Updated 6:24pm with statement from Anonymous. Hacker collective Anonymous has hacked the Department of Justice and Universal Music ‘s websites to protest the government’s decision to shut down the popular Megaupload file-sharing site . The Department of Justice’s website has been intermittently down and up in the past hour, and we can only imagine hackers and government agents fighting for control like a scene out of a movie. Universal Music’s homepage has been down for the past hour as well.
<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-30579" title="supreme-court" src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2011/09/supreme-court.jpeg" alt="" width="660" height="440" /> The Supreme Court’s 2011-2012 term begins Oct. 3 with arguments on the docket concerning everything from television profanity to warrantless GPS surveillance. Cases we are tracking also surround whether Congress may place public-domain works into copyright and whether “thought” can be patented. The justices hear about six dozen cases annually, and four dozen have been chosen so far. A number of crucial cases from the appellate courts are vying to be added. The Justice Department, for instance, is asking the nine justices to review the constitutionality of a law making it a crime to lie about being a decorated military veteran.
Congress may take books, musical compositions and other works out of the public domain, where they can be freely used and adapted, and grant them copyright status again, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. In a 6-2 ruling, the court said that, just because material enters the public domain, it is not “ territory that works may never exit .” (.pdf) The top court was ruling on a petition by a group of orchestra conductors, educators, performers, publishers and film archivists who urged the justices to reverse an appellate court that ruled against the group, which has relied on artistic works in the public domain for their livelihoods.