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Three Germans held in global piracy raid

The Local · 20 Jan 2012, 11:34

Published: 20 Jan 2012 11:34 GMT+01:00

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Kim Schmitz, 37, originally from Kiel, is alleged to be the mastermind behind Megaupload.com, a file-sharing site that US authorities charge has engaged in large-scale copyright infringement and piracy.

The closure of the site sparked a revenge attack on Friday by hackers who temporarily disabled the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation websites.

The Hong Kong-based site has been praised by a raft of American celebrities, including hip-hop star Kanye West. But many have charged it is a cesspool of computer criminals freely trading copyrighted works.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Friday the arrests came after a raid of Schmitz’s estate, north of New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, where officers found guns, a Rolls Royce Phantom, expensive paintings and valuables and cash worth nearly €4 million.

The three Germans and a fourth man from the Netherlands appeared in an Auckland court on Friday, and were denied bail, the New Zealand Herald reported. They are due in court again on Monday the paper said, as the United States launches extradition proceedings in hopes of prosecuting them in the US. Four other suspects are still at large, according to the US Department of Justice.

Justice Department officials said the case was “among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States,” in a written statement.

The defendants are said to have made more than US$175 million (€135.6 million) from Megaupload and a string of related sites, and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to copyright holders, the Department of Justice said.

Megaupload was popular because it facilitated the distribution of television programs, music and movies – often before they were even released. The government charged that the site would selectively comply with takedown requests by copyright holders to maintain a veneer of legality, while illegal content remained on the site.

Kim Schmitz, also known as Kim Dotcom and Kim Tim Jim Vestor, has gained notoriety as a brilliant but twisted cyber-criminal who has been convicted of embezzlement, computer fraud and insider trading.

Story continues below…

The New Zealand Herald newspaper reported that the New Zealand property he bought in 2010 was worth the equivalent of tens of millions of euros.

The Local/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:45 January 20, 2012 by whiteriver
What is the point of citing all the property stuff they found? So what, this website is known worldwide, surely they made a lot of money. But only if they prove that the money was illegal it would make sense to show what they have . Otherwise it is just envy of a rich guy...
15:22 January 20, 2012 by freechoice
if only government of so many nations were as efficient in dealing hardcore criminals, wouldn't the world be a lovely place to be?
16:12 January 20, 2012 by raandy
They were involved in illegal activity and the perponderance of evidence will be used to confiscate their illicit property. The home will be in litigation and the bank accounts frozen and any and all valuable items confiscated.

When they are extradited to the US they will be incarcerated.

I say good riddins to these sc$m Bags.
17:48 January 20, 2012 by hanskarl
"riddance" not riddins. Lets hope this does become a reality. I do agree with you and especially the statement of "freechoice."
18:28 January 20, 2012 by SteveK
That lad definitely doesn't look like a typical hacker.....not at all
18:39 January 20, 2012 by wes_whitewolf
Don't forget that the global bullies called Obama & Company and their owners the elite banksters are the biggest hypocrites of all time with all of the trillions of dollars they have stolen from the American people and others worldwide and all the war crimes and crimes against humanity makes this arrest look like a gnat on an elephants ass compared to what should be done with these criminals of the century!!!
20:15 January 20, 2012 by Craptastic
Dotcom? What, did he watch too many episodes of 30 Rock? I am glad that their personal theft (read the indictment on the WSJ) of intellectual property will be punished. If you wrote a book, surely you would want people to buy the book and not just copy it? Didn't we all learn this in high school?
04:38 January 21, 2012 by vonSchwerin
How come these guys all have the build (and possibly the supercilious personality) of Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons?
14:02 January 21, 2012 by XFYRCHIEF
Sorry, but I guess it is easy to say these guys don't deserve to be arrested when you have never created something of your own and then have the copyright violated. Try putting hundreds of hours into something, then find you have to spend thousands to keep others from copying it. Maybe then you will have some understanding and respect for copyright laws. I know, I've been there.
18:36 January 21, 2012 by storymann
This proves that offshore operations can be reached by the long arm of the US law.

None of these people are American, so Citizens of the World BEWARE
21:24 January 21, 2012 by michael4096
In many places, the symbol for justice is some sort of scale or balance.

I'm no advocate of illegality, even online piracy, but I do believe in due process. Here we have a business ruined and people treated unreasonably - unreasonable in the sense that at the moment they are innocent as they haven't been found guilty of anything they simply face accusations by competitors.

The US founding fathers believed that justice was balance. But, with bombs dropped on people because some faceless person thinks they may be bad, unbounded imprisonment and torture for being in the wrong place and now lives destroyed because someone doesn't like your business model I think the founding fathers would suggest the balance might be a bit off.
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