Comics A.M. | FBI shuts down Megaupload file-sharing site

Legal | The U.S. Justice Department and the FBI on Thursday shut down the popular file-sharing site Megaupload, seized $50 million in assets and charged its founder and six others with running an international enterprise based on Internet piracy that's cost copyright holders at least $500 million in lost revenue. The FBI has begun extradition proceedings in New Zealand to bring company founder Kim Schmitz, aka Kim DotCom, to the United States. He and three other associates are being held without bail until Monday, when they'll receive a new hearing. Three others remain at large. They face a maximum of 20 years in prison.

News of the shutdown was met with retaliation by the hacker collective Anonymous, which attacked the websites of the Justice Department and the Motion Picture Association of America.

Founded in 2005, Megaupload allowed users to anonymously transfer files like movies and music and, certainly on a much smaller scale, comic books. The Hong Kong-based company, which reportedly employed as many as 155 people, is said to have made $175 million from ads and premium subscriptions. According to the indictment, DotCom, whose assets apparently include a fleet of cars, took in $42 million from the operation in 2010.

Before Megaupload was taken down, the company posted a statement on its website claiming that allegations it facilitated massive breaches of copyright are "vastly overblown": "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." [USA Today, The New York Times, CNET]

Piracy | In response to recent conversations about the Stop Online Piracy Act, comics writer J.M. DeMatteis shares his thoughts on comic book piracy: "The bottom line — my bottom line, anyway — is this: If you’re enthusiastic about a particular creator, buy his or her work and then let others know about it. If you spread the word via file-sharing, it’s not much different than loaning a friend one of your books or CDs. Just as I once became an obsessive fan after taping my friends’ vinyl albums, many of your friends will become fans who’ll spend their hard-earned money on actively supporting that creator’s work." [Creation Point]

Creators | Lynda Barry will be the spring artist in residence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. [University of Wisconsin-Madison News]

Creators | Movie producer and former Marvel Studios President Avi Arad chats briefly about his new manga The Innocent: "I’ve been in the world of comics all my life, and specifically into Japanese comics in the early days, before manga attempted to penetrate this market. I wanted to do The Innocent a long time ago. It stayed with me quite a while. Once I got out of Marvel Comics, it was one of the things on my bucket list to do a manga. I had an idea and I followed it, and here we are." [Graphic Novel Reporter]

Creators | Nathan Edmondson discusses Dancer, his upcoming Image Comics miniseries with artist Nic Klein about a retired assassin and his ballerina companion on the run from a sniper in Milan. [USA Today]

Creators | Jennifer Anderson spotlights Oil & Water, the new Fantagraphics graphic novel by Steve Duin and Shannon Wheeler that examines the impact of the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf. [Beaverton Valley Times]

Creators | Collaborators Kurtis J. Wiebe and Tyler Jenkins talking about their upcoming Image/Shadowline series Peter Panzerfaust, which reimagines Peter Pan and the Lost Boys as Nazi resisters during World War II. [USA Today]

Publishing | Dave Ferraro and Patrick Markfort discuss the small publisher Sparkplug in their latest podcast. [Comics-and-More]

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