MegaUpload is loading up on high-profile lawyers.
The cyberlocker service has added Andrew Schapiro, the attorney who led the YouTube defense that won summary judgment in the video-sharing service's initial copyright trial against Viacom, MegaUpload attorney Ira Rothken told CNET today.
Schapiro is part of Los Angeles-based Quinn Emanuel Urguhart & Sullivan, which MegaUpload hired to represent the company against criminal copyright charges. Rothken is a well-known Silicon Valley lawyer and the man who is also leading MegaUpload's worldwide defense.
Rothken called Quinn Emanuel "one of the best law firms in the country."
The United States alleges that MegaUpload's leadership, including founder Kim DotCom, took part in a criminal conspiracy designed to generate illicit profits. MegaUpload allegedly enabled consumers from across the globe to share pirated movies, TV shows, music, and other media via their digital lockers.
U.S. officials said the service caused copyright owners more than $500 million in damages and claim this is the largest online piracy case ever brought.
MegaUpload denies the charges and claims it was a legitimate cyberlocker service that is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe harbor. That's the provision designed to shield Internet service providers from being held responsible for copyright violations committed by users.
MegaUpload signaled early on that it would hire top lawyers to defend the company.
Robert Bennett, the lawyer who represented President Bill Clinton against sexual harassment charges, was briefly a member of the MegaUpload defense team. He dropped out because of a conflict.
Other Quinn Emanuel attorneys who will be defending MegaUpload are Bill Burck and John Quinn, the firm's founder, who won a massive judgment for Mattel in 2008. He has won big cases for Genentech as well as General Motors.
Rothken has hired lawyers in the United States, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, and Germany to represent MegaUpload, DotCom, and six other company managers.
Police in New Zealand arrested DotCom at his home on January 19. He was released on bail and now awaits an extradition hearing scheduled for August. U.S. officials want to bring DotCom to stand trial in this country.
Coincidentally, it was announced today that a federal appeal's court sent YouTube's summary judgment against Viacom back to a lower court.