Swizz Beatz’ Megaupload Ship Goes Down—Is He Going Down With It?
This is some confusing shizz.
You know when you have to send huge files to someone, but your email won’t let you, so you need a third-party site to upload your file to—so that the intended recipient can then download it to his computer?
OK, so it turns out that hip-hop producer Swizz Beatz is the CEO of one of these file-sharing sites, the Hong Kong-based Megaupload, which yesterday was shut down by the U.S. Justice Department after seven executives and software programmers were indicted on racketeering and other charges.
Well, the high-profile litigation Beatz is embroiled in may not have helped.
In an effort to get the clip pulled, Universal Music Group immediately went after Megaupload when “Mega Song”—featuring talent reportedly enlisted by Beatz—hit the Internet.
Last month, the plot thickened when Megaupload parent Megaworld accused Universal of abusing the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act in its efforts to take the song down, saying Universal was stifling the smaller company’s right to free speech.
But it turned out that Universal’s beef with Megaupload was just a microcosm in the world of grievances piling up against the file-share-and-storage site.
Seven execs, including Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, were indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering, criminal copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Additionally, according to Wired, the Justice Department has seized $50 million in assets and shut down Megaupload, leaving visitors to the site with a message: “This domain name associated with the website Megaupload.com has been seized pursuant to an order issued by a U.S. District Court. A federal grand jury has indicted several individuals and entities allegedly involved in the operation of Megaupload.com and related websites.”
Beatz has not been accused of criminal wrong-doing, but he’s helping to fight the Universal battle at the moment.
Megaupload is on plenty of movie-studio and recording-company shizz lists for providing a service that allows subscribers to upload big files (i.e. albums and full-length films) and let their pals download them.
The indictment states that damages to copyright holders could be upward of $500 million.
The basis for the takedown has never been clear. While YouTube clearly indicated that UMG had taken the Mega Song down on copyright grounds, Universal later added that it had a deal with YouTube to take down content even if it doesn’t infringe their rights. This, the company says, allows it to sidestep any claims Megaupload makes against it under the DMCA.
Notably, though, Universal has never said exactly why it had the video taken down. Megaupload makes it clear that it will go to considerable lengths to find out exactly what has been going on at Universal, YouTube, Vimeo and other entities involved in the Mega Song takedown.
There can be little doubt that keeping the Megaupload name in the news is something that Universal should have anticipated when they took the Mega Song down. Right now, if the aim was to shut Megaupload up and dampen their campaign, they have failed. At the time of writing the standard and HD versions of the song have close to 13.7 million combined views on YouTube.
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