Megaupload, which U.S. authorities shuttered in 2012,
facilitated a "massive copyright infringement of movies and
television shows," according to a statement issued by the Motion
Picture Association of America on Monday.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, all MPAA members, are Twentieth
Century Fox Film Corp, Disney Enterprises Inc, Paramount
Pictures, Universal Studios Productions, Columbia Pictures and
Warner Bros Entertainment Inc.
"Megaupload wasn't a cloud storage service at all, it was an
unlawful hub for mass distribution," Steven Fabrizio, an
attorney for the MPAA, said in the statement.
U.S. authorities allege Megaupload cost film studios and record
companies more than $500 million and generated more than $175
million by encouraging paying users to store and share
copyrighted material, such as movies and TV shows.
Dotcom says Megaupload was merely an online warehouse and should
not be held accountable if stored content was obtained
Monday's lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern
District of Virginia, said Dotcom and other defendants "profited
handsomely" by providing thousands of copyrighted works over the
Internet to millions of Megaupload users without authorization
Movies whose copyrights Megaupload infringed, according to the
lawsuit, include Avatar, Forrest Gump and Transformers,
according to the lawsuit.
Commenting on Twitter on Monday, Dotcom said U.S. authorities
"probably demanded" that the studios file the lawsuit "because
they initiated this ... Hollywood science fiction script of a
The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages as well as attorney's
fees. It claims the studios are entitled to Megaupload's profits
and up to $150,000 per infringement.
[to top of second column]
The lawsuit comes as Dotcom is fighting a bid by U.S. authorities to
extradite him from New Zealand to face online piracy charges over
the now-closed website. He is also known as Kim Schmitz and Kim Tim
Jim Vestor, according to the lawsuit.
Dotcom's U.S. attorney Ira Rothken said that Monday's suit was a way
for the country's film industry to go after Megaupload if the U.S.
Department of Justice fails to extradite Dotcom and his colleagues
to the United States from New Zealand. An extradition hearing is
scheduled for July.
"The MPAA is suddenly realizing that we're a few months away from
the extradition hearing, and once Kim Dotcom and the others prevail
in the extradition hearing they'll have more resources and more
assets," Rothken told Reuters.
"The MPAA wants to have cover if the Department of Justice fails in
the extradition and the criminal case."
He predicted that the judge in the civil suit would likely stay the
case pending the extradition hearing, adding that Megaupload will
also seek access to evidence stored on its servers housed in
Virginia to defend against the suit. Dotcom has been denied access
to that evidence for the extradition hearing.
Meanwhile, the legal storm has not stopped Dotcom, a German national
with New Zealand residency, from delving into politics, launching a
party last month to contest New Zealand's general election in
(Reporting by Bernard Vaughan; additional reporting by Naomi Tajitsu;
editing by Ken Wills)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.