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Jan 23

Swizz Beatz’s Megaupload Downed – Anonymous Retaliates

UPDATE: Megaupload appears to back online, sort of.

The Atlantic Wire reports that those who haven’t been arrested on Megaupload’s staff managed to post a message accessible only at their IP address. As of now there’s really no content on the site available beyond a short, exclamation point-happy message asking people to share the new address as they work to get back online.

Friday, January 20, 10 a.m.: That was fast: voluntary blackouts are already out of style.

One day after the anti-SOPA blackout protest by several popular sites, the Department of Justice announced that it had seized file-sharing site Megaupload and charged seven people associated with it in one of the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the U.S.

Megaupload has long been a target of the entertainment industry, and the charges indicate why: they’re charged with causing $500 million in damages to copyright owners, and of making $175 million through sales of premium subscriptions and ads.

Kim Dotcom, who founded the website (he changed his name from Kim Schmitz), was the subject of a dramatic arrest at his New Zealand mansion. As the New York Times describes it, police (who arrived by heliocopter), had to cut Dotcom out of his “safe room,” where he’d retreated apparently to try and avoid arrest. He had a sawed-off shot gun close by.

The Department of Justice‘s press release on the seizure and arrests says that the site’s business model is “designed” to encourage uploads of popular copyrighted material, partially by rewarding those financially who do so.

Although the Megaupload shutdown was not directly related to SOPA, according to DoJ, the timing may have partly fueled the anger of hacker collective Anonymous, which responded with one of their largest distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in recent memory.

According to various anonymous twitter feeds, the Washington Post reports, the group also attacked the RIAA, MPAA, and Universal Music sites. If you want to know what the planning for that attack looked lke, Mother Jones’s Josh Harkinson was observing in the chat room as it was planned and executed.

Megaupload portrays itself as a free file-sharing service centered on legitimate uploads of content for sharing and storage. A recent ad campaign featured the endorsements of will.i.am, Kanye West, and P Diddy, all of whom likely contributed to the campaign because the company’s CEO is artist Swizz Beatz (a.k.a. Alicia Keys’s husband). That campaign itself was the subject of its own copyright battle. Swizz Beatz was not charged in the DoJ case.

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