DoJ charged the Megaupload execs with racketeering, conspiracy, copyright infringement and money laundering. They could get five years in prison for the copyright infringement charges alone, the DoJ statement said.
A statement posted on Megaupload before the site came down said the charges were exaggerated by politics and anti-content-piracy hysteria.
"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," the statement said.
Megaupload attorney Ira Rothken, who is known for defending other web sites accused of copyright violations, promised a spirited multinational defense against what he called an aggressive and improperly executed process.
"There are significant issues of due process," Rothken told CNET. "The government has taken down one of the world's largest storage providers and have done so without giving Megaupload an opportunity to be heard in court."
The raid infuriated gamers and file sharers, though even in the most partisan discussions most acknowledged the need to address copyright infringement for copyright holders in ways that don't violate rights of those who consume the content.
"It is no secret that Megaupload was a popular site for the illegal distribution of copyrighted material," according to one poster in the Steam gamer forum. "But if they were, as they claim, diligent about responding to takedown requests, I hope the end verdict is in their favor."
Best defense is Anonymous offense?
Anonymous, meanwhile, posted a statement announcing #OpMegaupload, "our largest attack ever, on government and music industry sites," the statement read. "The FBI didn't think they would get away with this did they? They should have expected us."
Reuters file photo, Kim Dotcomm (Schmitz) 1999