Shortly after it was discovered hitmaker Swizz Beatz is the brains behind popular file-sharing website Megaupload, the FBI have shut down the site and issued criminal charges.
According to reports, the Federal Bureau of Investigation closed Megaupload Thursday (January 19) afternoon.
One day after the Internet blacked out in protest of two overreaching anti-piracy bill in Congress, authorities have shuttered Megaupload.com, one of the most popular file-sharing services on the web. The FBI moved against the company today, and made sure to claim that the seven people indicted for online piracy crimes had nothing to do with the furor this week over the Stop Online Piracy Act and its companion bill in the Senate, the Protect IP Act. The indictment was unsealed in northern Virginia today and four people are already in custody, having been arrested in New Zealand for crimes including conspiracy to commit racketeering and criminal copyright infringement. Bank records and server farms are being searched worldwide. The Justice Department charges Megaupload, which was once the world's 13th largest website, with "generating more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and causing more than half a billion dollars in harm to copyright owners."
A statement has also been issued defending the FBI's unexpected move.
"This action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States," the Justice department said in a statement about the indictment. The indictment accuses seven individuals and two corporations -- Megaupload Limited and Vestor Limited -- of costing copyright holders more than $500 million in lost revenue from pirated films and other content. It was unsealed on Thursday, and claims that at one point Megaupload was the 13th most popular website in the world. The Hong Kong-based company listed Swizz Beatz, a musician who married Alicia Keys in 2010, as its CEO. Beatz declined to comment through a representative.
Signs of serious problems developing against Megaupload emerged this week.
After the starry promo appeared on YouTube last month, Diddy, Kanye and Will.i.am's label, Universal Music Group, issued a "take-down notice" to YouTube, saying the artists' performances were unauthorized. Their individual reps followed up, sources say. Mega-Upload fired back with a lawsuit against Universal to stop it from blocking distribution of the video. A Mega rep told us: "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." UMG and Diddy reps wouldn't comment. West's and Will.i.am's reps didn't get back to us.
The platinum-selling producer has used the likes of celebrities including Diddy and reality star Kim Kardashian to promote Megaupload.
Swizz Beatz has a number of different hustles: record producer, rapper and shoe designer. It turns out the Bronx-born hitmaker is also the CEO of the file-sharing site Megaupload, which at the moment has drawn a bit of fire from Universal Music Group, the record company where Swizz was once signed. In an effort to raise the company's profile, Megaupload has been releasing video testimonials from big-name artists like Kanye West, Diddy, will.i.am and Swizz's wife, Alicia Keys, along with celebrities like Kim Kardashian. In the promotional videos, the big-name stars express their support of the site, which allows users to send large media files -- sometimes pirated materials such as entire movies and albums.