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Anonymous Hacktivists Take Down Justice Department, Universal Music, MPAA, RIAA Websites Following Massive Gov’t Anti-Piracy Crackdown on Megaupload.com

The hacktivist collective Anonymous is claiming credit for crashing the website of the U.S. Department of Justice as well as the websites of Universal Music, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America on Thursday in retaliation for a federal crackdown on the illegal file sharing site Megaupload.com.

CNNMoney reports that the Department of Justice (DOJ) reported technical difficulties just after numerous Twitter accounts connected with Anonymous declared war on the agency.

“One thing is certain: EXPECT US! #Megaupload” said one Tweet from AnonOps, using Anonymous’ motto.

An hour later, the same Twitter user tweeted this triumphant message: “Tango down! http://universalmusic.com & http://www.justice.gov// #Megaupload”

“We are having website problems, but we’re not sure what it’s from,” a DOJ spokeswoman told CNNMoney.

CNNMoney is calling this the largest ever attack by Anonymous.

Also attacked were Universal Music’s website, as well as the sites of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Universal is in a legal battle with Megaupload over a YouTube video in which many Universal artists appear in a Megaupload promotion.

AnonOps took credit for those takedowns.

Anonymous’ bold attacks came on the same day that the Justice Department announced the indictment of seven individuals from four countries for operating an “international organized criminal enterprise responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of copyrighted works.” Law enforcement officials say Megaupload generated more than $175 million in illegal profits through advertising revenue and premium membership sales. The indictment alleges that Megaupload was once the world’s 13th most visited website.

Federal officials executed 20 search warrants in eight countries. They seized 18 domain names and $50 million in assets, including servers in the United States, Canada and the Netherlands.

This latest battle in the war over the internet comes amid a massive wave of opposition to a pair of anti-piracy measures making their way through Congress. The House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA) have generated unprecedented opposition among Americans of all political stripes, and President Obama recently announced his administration would not support key provisions of SOPA, angering Hollywood studio chiefs who have apparently “drawn a line in the sand” and have allegedly threatened to cease their generous donations to Obama’s reelection campaign.

Proponents of SOPA and PIPA argue that the measures are sorely needed to combat copyright infringement and rampant piracy, which cost the entertainment industry millions of dollars annually. Opponents say the language of the bills is too broad and that the measures would infringe upon freedom of speech and threaten the very existence of the open and free internet we enjoy today. Google, Wikipedia, Yahoo!, Facebook, Ebay and a long list of other tech firms and internet sites, including Moral Low Ground, are staunchly opposed to SOPA and PIPA.

Anonymous message to Congress regarding SOPA and PIPA:

What is SOPA?:

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