A month or so ago, MegaUpload‘s biggest problem was music stars like P. Diddy and will.i.am claiming that their likenesses were used without their permission in the file-sharing site’s new jingle. But that drama will have to be shelved in light of a new indictment: The FBI shut down the site today after arresting seven of its employees on charges of piracy.
MegaUpload has always claimed that the majority of its traffic is legitimate and that it would be happy to work with the content industry, but not bow down to claims of copyright infringement. However, the feds say that the site has cheated these copyright owners — music, movies, TV shows, etc. — out of $500 million in profits.
Despite the timing coming a day after the Internet blackout in opposition to SOPA, the feds say that this investigation has been going on for two years and so has nothing to do with SOPA.
The weirdest part of this story is the discovery that MegaUpload’s acting CEO is (was?) Swizz Beats, the husband of Alicia Keys. That probably explains how several of the big-name music stars ended up in the jingle: The New York Post reports that Swizz convinced Diddy, Kim Kardashian, and others to appear in the video. Yesterday (pre-arrest, obviously) MegaUpload released this statement asserting its position:
We have never received any word that any artist has [individually] filed a take-down… [we have] legally binding agreements with the performers that appear in the video… They promised that they had the rights to enter into that agreement and it’s not interfering with any third-party rights.
Swizz was not among the seven arrested, though founder Kim Dotcom was. At this point in time, it looks like his lack of ownership in Megaupload.com is what has saved him from indictment along side his fellow employees. The others’ homes range from Germany to Estonia, but several of them were nabbed in New Zealand. MegaUpload is currently down, and (more importantly to many Millennials, I imagine) so is its sister site MegaVideo. How else will you watch Revenge online?