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Published January 19 2012

Popular file-sharing site Megaupload.com shut down; founder, others indicted on piracy charges

McLEAN, Va. — One of the world's most popular file-sharing sites was shut down Thursday, and its founder and several company officials were accused of facilitating millions of illegal downloads of films, music and other content.

A federal indictment accused Megaupload.com of costing copyright holders at least $500 million in lost revenue. The indictment was unsealed one day after websites including Wikipedia and Craigslist shut down in protest of two congressional proposals intended to make it easier for authorities to go after sites with pirated material, especially those with overseas headquarters and servers.

The news of the shutdown seemed to bring retaliation from hackers who claimed credit for attacking the Justice Department's website. Federal officials confirmed it was down Thursday evening and that the disruption was being “treated as a malicious act.”

A loose affiliation of hackers known as “Anonymous” claimed credit for the attack. Also hacked was the site for the Motion Picture Association of America and perhaps others.

Megaupload is based in Hong Kong, but some of the alleged pirated content was hosted on leased servers in Ashburn, Va., which gave federal authorities jurisdiction, the indictment said.