Things have gone from bad to worse for Swizz Beatz’s MegaUpload site. Just days after it was revealed that the file-sharing site came under legal fire from Universal Music Group over a promo video featuring some of their artists, it’s now been announced that the site has been shut down by the feds.
As reported yesterday, Universal Music Group issued a “take down notice” to YouTube after a promo video called “Mega Song,” featuring unauthorized appearances from their artists, Diddy, wil.i.am and Kanye West, appeared on the video site. Swizz Beatz, the CEO of MegaUpload, was the creator of the video and in retaliation, MegaUpload countersued UMG in an attempt to stop them from blocking distribution of the “Mega Song” video.
But on Jan. 19, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the federal government had shut down MegaUpload and arrested several of its founders and employees, charging them with multiple racketeering and copyright infringement charges. According to the statement, the founders arrested included, chief marketing officer, Finn Batato, chief technical officer and co-founder Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk, and MegaUpload founder, Kim Dotcom, also knows as Kim Schmitz. The group as a whole is referred to as “Mega Conspiracy.” All of the above arrested individuals were living in New Zealand at the time of their detainment and the F.B.I. worked in conjunction with New Zealand police to investigate and bust the individuals, using 70 police to raid over 10 properties and seizing millions of dollars worth of assets from the group.
A federal indictment handed down on Jan. 5 listed the “Mega Conspiracy” group and its MegaUpload site in a federal indictment, claiming that the site has generated more than $175 million in criminal proceed and responsible for the loss of more than $500 million in lost revenue to copyright-holders from pirated movies, music and other materials.
Luckily for Swizz Beatz, he wasn’t charged in the indictment. For now, it’s unclear as to what will happen to Swizz and how his involvement with MegaUpload will play into the case.
The government crackdown on MegaUpload is said to be one of the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and comes right in the mist of a heated battle over impending legislation over the U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, and Protect IP Act (PIPA). And while many online corporations like Facebook, Wikipedia and Google have already protested the SOPA/PIPA legislation by blacking out their site, individual critics have now taken protests even farther.
According to The Star, shortly after it was announced that MegaUplaod had been shut down, hackers retaliated by attacking the public websites of the Justice Department, Universal Music the two big trade groups that represent the music and film industries. The Motion Picture Association of America is currently working with law enforcement to identify who the attackers are.
Rumors are now circulating that MegaUpload has resurfaced under a new domain name.
This is clearly not the last that we will hear about this issue. Stay tuned as the story develops. In the meantime, check out a list of other artists who have been involved in copyright scandals below. –nicholas robinson