Thursday, January 19, 2012

Feds Shut Down Swizz Beatz' File-Sharing Web Site, Arrest Four

A day after the Internet went dark to protest the involvement of government policing which sites and content can accessed online, one of the world's largest file-sharing sites was shut down and its founder and several company executives were charged with violating piracy laws. According to an indictment (read, below), federal prosecutors say, a service for sharing large media files (and allowed users to legally download films, TV shows, games and music), was engaged in a scheme that took some $500 million away from copyright holders and generated more than $175 million in profits. A federal court in Virginia ordered that 18 domain names associated with the Web site be seized. Further, some 20 search warrants were executed in the United States and eight countries and about $50 million in assets and targeted sites were also seized. The founders of the Hong Kong-based company - Kim Dotcom, who is also known as Kim Schmitz and Kim Tim Jim Vestor, and Mathias Ortmann - were arrested jun New Zealand and will be extradited to the US.The company's chief marketing and sales officer, Finn Batato, head of development Sven Echternach and other company officials were also charged. Swizz Beatz, who's the company's CEO, was not charged -- yet. (He wasn't listed as such in the indictment. Addendum: Megaupload attorney Ira Rothken tells NY Magazine: "Swizz Beatz was never involved in any meaningful way. He was negotiating to become the CEO, but it was never official.") The charges facing those arrested included copyright infringement as well as conspiracies to commit racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering. Sidebar: Megaupload sued Universal Music Group last December for blocking a promotional video from being played on YouTube. The “Mega Song” (watch, below) featured several musicians --, Kanye West, Mary J. Blige, Diddy, Lil Jon, Alicia Keys and Macy Gray -- endorsing the Web site., through Universal, filed a takedown notice, but the site said the singer signed a “breathtakingly broad” release for the video. In related news: Shortly after the news of the Feds' takedown of Megaupload, the hacker group Anonymous took down thee Web sites for the Justice Department, Universal Music Group, the Motion Pictures Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America.

source: AP

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