‘Megaupload’ programmers to prison: pressure grows on piracy portals

Megaupload programmers Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk were each sentenced to two years and seven months in prison for intellectual property offences.

Two former Megaupload coders were sentenced to prison on Thursday for their part in the file-sharing website’s massive copyright infringement operation . Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk, who pleaded guilty in 2015 to conspiring to commit copyright infringement, were each sentenced to two years and seven months in prison. The sentences were significantly reduced from the 10 years that prosecutors had requested.

Judge Sally Fitzgerald of the Auckland High Court stated that the couple’s guilty pleas, their cooperation with the FBI and their rehabilitation efforts, were taken into account in her decision. She also noted that both had no criminal records and were parents of young children.

The prison sentences were briefly postponed to allow Ortmann to be present at the birth of her second child, and for van der Kolk to spend time with her seriously ill mother. The Crown agreed to the postponement until August 1.

Megaupload: the decline of “sharing” sites

Ortmann and van der Kolk’s sentencing comes 11 years after they were arrested in a worldwide FBI operation that shut down Megaupload. The website, founded by Kim Dotcom, was one of the most popular file-sharing websites in the world. It allowed users to upload and download copyrighted material, such as movies, music, and software, without paying for it.

The FBI claimed that Megaupload had cost copyright holders billions of dollars in lost revenue. Dotcom and three other Megaupload executives were arrested in New Zealand in 2012 and charged with conspiracy, copyright infringement and money laundering. All of them have denied the charges.

A New Zealand court ruled in 2015 that Dotcom and its co-founders could be extradited to the United States to stand trial. However, the ruling was overturned by the country’s Supreme Court in 2021. Dotcom and its co-founders remain in New Zealand, where they are fighting extradition. The outcome of his case is still pending.

The Ortmann and van der Kolk ruling is a significant victory for copyright holders. Send a message that those who profit from copyright infringement will be held accountable.