Hacktivist group Anonymous briefly took down the website of the US Department of Justice (DoJ) on Thursday, following the shutdown of file-sharing site MegaUpload.
The group took aim at the DoJ site, as well as other government and recording industry targets, with denial-of-service attacks, after the department announced it had shut down MegaUpload.
"The same thing that happened to Megaupload can happen to any other major (or small) web site you love as well! Fight back!" read a Tweet to the AnonymousIRC Twitter feed.
In addition to the DoJ site, the attacks targetted sites for the FBI and major record labels.
The DoJ said it had charged the owner and administrators of the MegaUpload and its affiliates, who are based in Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Germany, Estonia and Slovakia, of multiple racketeering and conspiracy charges related to copyright infringement.
The DoJ charged that the administrators had trafficked around $500m worth of pirated content and had reaped $175m in illegal profits by running advertisements and charging premium message fees.
"For more than five years, the conspiracy has operated web sites that unlawfully reproduce and distribute infringing copies of copyrighted works, including movies –often before their theatrical release – music, television programmes, electronic books, and business and entertainment software on a massive scale," the DoJ 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 per cent of the total traffic on the internet."
The shutdown comes as the US finds itself at a crossroads in copyright enforcement and legislation. Earlier this week, a number of prominent sites voluntarily shut down in protest of the controversial SOPA and PIPA online privacy laws.
The laws, which have since been tabled by legislators, could have had wide-ranging implications not only for the US, but also for international sites and administrators.
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