WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Seven people have been charged in a massive online piracy sting conducted by the U.S. Justice Department.
PHOTOS: DC AREA MUG SHOTS
"...organized criminal enterprise allegedly responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works, through Megaupload.com and other related sites, generating more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and causing more than half a billion dollars in harm to copyright owners," DOJ officials said.
"The indictment alleges that the criminal enterprise is led by Kim Dotcom, aka Kim Schmitz and Kim Tim Jim Vestor, 37, a resident of both Hong Kong and New Zealand. Dotcom founded Megaupload Limited and is the director and sole shareholder of Vestor Limited, which has been used to hold his ownership interests in the Mega-affiliated sites," officials said.
DOJ officials say these six men helped run the illegal music downloading site, "Megaupload Limited"
- Chief Marketing Officer, Finn Batato, 38, a citizen and resident of Germany.
- Graphic Designer, Julius Bencko, 35, a citizen and resident of Slovakia.
- Head of businesses development, Sven Echternach, 39, a citizen and resident of Germany.
- Chief technical officer and co-founder, Mathias Ortmann, 40, a citizen of Germany and resident of both Germany and Hong Kong.
- Software programmer and head of the development software division, Andrus Nomm, 32, a citizen of Estonia and resident of both Turkey and Estonia.
- Programmer, Bram van der Kolk, aka Bramos, 29, a Dutch citizen and resident of both the Netherlands and New Zealand.
According to the indictment, for more than five years the conspiracy has operated websites that unlawfully reproduce and distribute infringing copies of copyrighted works, including movies - often before their theatrical release - music, television programs, electronic books, and business and entertainment software on a massive scale, officials said.
"The conspirators' content hosting site, Megaupload.com, is advertised as having more than one billion visits to the site, more than 150 million registered users, 50 million daily visitors and accounting for four percent of the total traffic on the Internet," the DOJ said.