File-sharing website Megaupload.com has been shut down for violating piracy laws, according to reports.
The New York Times reports that the company – which, according to the indictment filed by federal prosecutors in Virginia, America, was at one point the 13th most popular website in the world – has been closed down and its founders have been charged.
Prosecutors claim that the service has cost copyright holders more than $500 million (£320 million) in lost revenue, although Megaupload claim that they have always been diligent in dealing with any complaints regarding pirated material.
The BBC, meanwhile, reports that the criminal charges stemming from the case include copyright infringement, conspiracies to commit racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering. The FBI have also reportedly seized more than $50 million (£32 million) in assets and have executed more than 20 search warrants in nine countries.
A statement on the FBI website said:
This action is amongst the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property crime.
However, before it was closed down, Megaupload issued a statement reading: “The fact is that the vast majority of Mega’s internet traffic is legitimate, and we are here to stay.
“If the content industry would like to take advantage of our popularity, we are happy to enter into a dialogue. We have some good ideas. Please get in touch.”
Earlier this week, several websites including Wikipedia temporarily closed down in order to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the proposal from US Congress which aims to thwart online piracy.