U.S. lawyer for Megaupload.com withdraws

WASHINGTON Sun Jan 22, 2012 5:07pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Content-sharing Internet service Megaupload.com has lost the help of one of the best-known U.S. defense lawyers as it begins to fight charges of copyright infringement, a person familiar with the matter said.

Robert Bennett was required to withdraw from the case because of a conflict involving at least one other client of his law firm, Hogan Lovells, this person told Reuters. The other client or clients were not identified.

Bennett initially advised Megaupload.com. The company and seven of its executives were charged in a 5-count, 72-page indictment unsealed on Thursday accusing them of engaging in a wide-ranging and lucrative scheme to offer material online without compensating the copyright holders.

Bennett's long career includes past representation of President Bill Clinton. He was Clinton's personal attorney in a sexual-harassment case brought by Paula Jones. He has represented a wide array of other prominent Washington officials and U.S. corporations, including former energy giant Enron Corp.

Under the ethics rules for U.S. lawyers, a firm generally does not represent two clients whose interests are at odds. Conflicts are especially likely to arise at law firms as large as Hogan Lovells, one of the biggest in the world, because of the number and variety of clients they represent.

Bennett was working for Megaupload before the website's executives were indicted, said Ira Rothken, one of Megaupload's lawyers. Rothken said Bennett was handling matters other then criminal defense.

After the U.S. Justice Department announced the indictments, Bennett provided initial guidance to the company, Rothken said. Rothken said he was not yet prepared to comment on the makeup of the U.S. legal team.

"Who is or isn't on the criminal defense team is still being decided," Rothken said.

U.S. investigators allege that Megaupload made more than $175 million by distributing copyrighted content without the required authorization.

The company has promised a vigorous legal defense, responding to the indictments by saying it offered only online storage.

(Additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by Howard Goller)

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Comments (8)
GustaevXV wrote:
It is good to see this case is getting press and moving along. It is positive for business and honest consumers worldwide to see action taken against these charged as theives, persons. It is important to have a cohesive and trustworthy enviroment for business to operate and prosper.
Many people, many due to a lack of knowledge, think that intellectual property is not real property and they are entitled to break the law and steal this extremely important commodity. Worth Hundreds of Billions of dollars. Without intellectual property rights like any other property rights which are so important to orderly business taking place worldwide and the just and lawful conclusion to sales, business would turn into a lawless and crazy exercise with escalting defaults and bankruptcies and ultimately the destruction of the economy.
Everybody and business would be stealing from one another and sabotaging and exploiting on another causing a world of mayhem.
Intellectual property laws were not made overnight. They were enacted with a long and arduous process process with the collaboration of over 100 nations, eventually ending with an international agreement know as the CERN agreement. Vigilance against these criminals is as important as vigilance against any other major crime fighting effort.

Jan 22, 2012 5:59pm EST  --  Report as abuse
shadyj911 wrote:
Where does it end? Next year they’ll be arresting the execs of Google and Yahoo because someone emailed a pirated copy of a song through their servers.

Jan 22, 2012 10:29pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Permafry_42 wrote:
The problem is that this case is going after the wrong individuals. He shouldn’t be held responsible for users who abused his website, because he never once tried to promote the piracy and on a regular basis put systems in place to remove any reported copyright material on his website. All this will do is scare any large websites with user generated content to remove said content in fear of being held responsible for others abuse of their system. and as shadyj911 wrote, “Next year they’ll be arresting the execs of Google and Yahoo because someone emailed a pirated copy of a song through their servers.” Piracy and internet theft is a huge and complicated issue, but blaming website owners for the actions of their users is simply unfair and will not solve the problem whatsoever. Judging from the actions of the hacker group anonymous, it only seems to have worsened the situation a great deal.

Jan 23, 2012 1:09am EST  --  Report as abuse
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