Services & Software

Record labels join movie studios in suing MegaUpload, Dotcom

RIAA lawsuit accuses the defunct file-sharing service of "massive copyright infringement" of music.

MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom CBS

The Recording Industry Association of America filed a lawsuit Thursday against MegaUpload and its founder, Kim Dotcom, just three days after the Motion Picture Association of America filed a similar lawsuit against the defunct file-sharing service.

Filed on behalf of record labels Warner Music, UMG Recordings, Sony Music, and Capitol Records in US District Court in Alexandria, Va., the lawsuit accuses MegaUpload of "massive copyright infringement" of music. A lawsuit filed in the same court Monday by the MPAA alleges that the site's administrators knowingly infringed on movie and TV show copyrights and encouraged others to do the same.

Those civil lawsuits come in addition to criminal charges filed against MegaUpload and Dotcom by the US Justice Department after the January 2012 raid on Dotcom's mansion near Auckland, New Zealand. US officials say he cost Hollywood studios and other copyright owners $500 million by encouraging users to store pirated videos, music, software, and other media and then share them with others.

Like the MPAA complaint, the RIAA's lawsuit accuses MegaUpload and Dotcom of actively encouraging users to infringe on the music label's copyrights.

"To ensure a vast and ever-growing supply of popular copyrighted content to which they could sell premium access, defendants paid users to upload popular content to Megaupload's servers," according to the RIAA's complaint. As evidence of the alleged copyright infringement, the lawsuit includes a list of 87 songs by artists such as Lady Gaga, Jay Z, and Pink the RIAA said it found on the site.

Dotcom's legal team criticized the lawsuit as misguided and baseless.

"RIAA, MPAA, and DOJ are like three blind mice following each other in the pursuit of meritless [copyright] claims and assault on [copyright] neutral cloud tech," San Francisco-based attorney Ira Rothken wrote in a tweet, adding that the case was "an assault on cloud storage."

Dotcom, 40, was arrested during the raid on his mansion after the US handed down an indictment on criminal copyright violations and racketeering charges related to the operation of cloud-storage locker MegaUpload. Laptops, hard drives, and millions of dollars worth of cash, cars, and other possessions belonging to Dotcom were seized during the raid on his estate.

Dotcom, who faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, denies the charges and claims MegaUpload was completely legitimate and protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Dotcom is currently free on bail as he fight efforts to extradite him to the US to stand trial.