The war on piracy is far from over, despite the massive SOPA and PIPA protests that flooded the Internet yesterday — authorities are refusing to back down, and in a show of how serious they really are about piracy, today the FBI shut down Megaupload and made several arrests as well. Megaupload, one of the world’s most ubiquitous file sharing services, claims to have 50 million daily users who upload documents and movies which others are then free to download. In conjunction with the closure, seven people have been indicted on the charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering and criminal copyright infringement, with four people already in custody. According to the charges, Megaupload has caused $500 million in loses for copyrighters and earned the business more than $175 million.
More controversial still is the role of Swizz Beatz (a.k.a Mr. Alicia Keys, or formally known as Kaseem Dean) who has been outed as the secret “CEO without citation” of Megaupload. Beatz appears to be in the hot seat yet again, after already having baited the wrath of Universal Music Group for unauthorized use of several of their artists — including Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Kanye West, and Will.i.am — in a Megaupload commercial.
So what does it all mean? While SOPA protestors are defending our right to share files online, government agencies seem bent on finding ways to end Internet “piracy.” But what is Internet piracy? Is it something that can truly exist as we become more connected? And when one of the most prolific hip hop producers is at the helm of a targeted file sharing site, does this diminish the cause of musicians who claim to be “losing out”? When musicians themselves get behind “piracy” are we ushering a new era whereby those who felt previously wronged by online sharing are taking the reins and reclaiming control? It surely is an interesting event, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on how this one plays out, and how it affects the dissemination of music going forward.
Surprising New Figure in the Piracy Wars? Swizz Beatz, Megaupload.com’s Secret CEO [Beta Beat]
FBI Charges Seven With Online Piracy [The Wall Street Journal]