I was surfing the Internet and came across a website (which shall remain anonymous) that offers free downloads for commercial chess engines and commercial GUIs. Along with the program download they also supply a serial number, if required, for the program. I was shocked at what was offered by this site; name a commercial chess program or engine and it was available for free download. Of course this is totally illegal, but I was curious to see what they were offering and discovered an interesting story.
Not only is it illegal and unethical to download such programs but I’d be afraid to do it even with my new Webroot antivirus software. Who knows what kind of evil is lurking in those downloads?
One of the sites I was directed to was Megauploads. There were other file sharing sites, but Megauploads was the one that grabbed my attention; when I went to the site and saw this:
The site was originally located in the US but the Feds shut it down in January and charged the owner with engaging in several illegal acts; that accounts for the relocation plans by the owner.
Megauploads was a file sharing site with 150 million registered users and accounted for about 4 percent of total Internet users including Kim Kardashian, P-Diddy and other well known celebs. Users of this site cost copyright losses of half a billion dollars and made an estimate $175 million in profits.
The site was founded by New Zealand entrepreneur Kim Schmitz and he has been charged in the US with copyright infringement, racketeering, conspiracy and money laundering. For those who are not familiar with US laws, racketeering is obtaining or extorting money illegally or carrying on any illegal business activity.
Among Mr. Schmitz’ possessions are reported to be a Lamborghini, a Rolls Royce and artwork. I’m guessing he has a pretty nice house, too.
Schmitz, born in Germany, was planning in January to launch a new site called Me.ga, located in Gabon on the west coast of central Africa, that he claimed would have been even better than Megauploads in both speed and storage space. In March, 2013, there is a possibility that Schmitz may be extradited to the US.
Schmitz hoped the move to Africa would keep him from the long arm of the US Federal Government and allow him to continue to operate with impunity but according to Business Insider the Gabon Communications Minister suspended the site before it was even launched saying it can’t, “serve as a platform…for committing acts aimed at violating copyrights nor be used by unscrupulous people.” That didn’t stop Schmitz though because he immediately announced plans to use another domain.
Of course, there are always two sides to every story. Schmitz said the whole affair is a nightmare and horrifying for his family. Especially for his wife; she is pregnant with twins and this whole affair is giving here nightmares and she just feels miserable.
Schmitz is innocent of any wrongdoing…least that’s what his attorney says. Schmitz himself claimed it is “complete nonsense” that he made any money from his site. He justified the site saying, “I’m an innovator, I create solutions. I create a website that is popular and that people want to use.”