US Closes Major File-Sharing Website One Day After Anti-SOPA Protest

US Closes Major File-Sharing Website One Day After Anti-SOPA Protest | Was takedown a personal vendetta over ‘Mega Song’ lawsuit?

In what was either an attempt by the Obama Administration to thumb its nose at Wednesday’s massive public protests against the notion the federal government can shut down websites at whim, or solid evidence the government plans to do what it wants whether or not the law allowing it passes, the Department of Justice today closed down a major file-sharing website.

Officials insisted the site, MegaUpload, was “an international organized criminal enterprise,” and said allowing individual users to upload content to share with one another cost “more than half a billion dollars in harm to copyright owners.”

The evidence however, points to the shutdown being a corporate vendetta by key music groups over an ongoing lawsuit by MegaUpload against the Universal Music Group. It’s exactly the sort of abuse of power that the opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was meant to forestall.

MegaUpload’s 33 year old CEO Kasseem Dean, a rap producer and the husband of pop artist Alicia Keys, used his ties with the rap industry to produce anĀ  advertisement video for Megaupload which featured several top artists signed to Universal Music Group. Universal responded by forcing YouTube to remove the advertisement from their website last month, claiming it amounted to copyright violation.

Since the “Mega Song” was created specifically for MegaUpload by artists who just happened to be under contract with them, the site insisted UMG did not own the song and sued in US District Court to try to get the song unblocked.

The lawsuit was shaping up to be particularly ugly, with UMG defending itself from claims it had filed an illegal takedown notice by admitting it had a secret deal with YouTube allowing it to take down videos whenever UMG said so.

The Recording Industry Artists of America (RIAA), a trade group of which UMG is a key member, praised the takedown, terming MegaUpload a “sinister scheme to generate massive profits through the distribution of stolen intellectual property.”

This being the Internet age, the story doesn’t end there, of course. Activist organization Anonymous has responded by knocking down not only UMG’s website, but also the RIAA, MPAA, and the websites of the US Department of Justice and the Copyright Office.

Last 5 posts by Jason Ditz

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.

  • El Tonno

    This is an international op, more here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/01/19/kim_dotco

    Turns out the founder of Megaupload is scam-meister Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz alias "Kimble" of dot-com-era fame. What a twist. I feel dirty for having used the site.

  • Rick

    Hollywood is a big donor and supporter of Obama. He has to return the favor, just like he did with the United Auto Workers by bailing out GM, and Goldman Sachs, etc. Anyhow, IP is just a corporatist racket to generate profits beyond what the free-market would produce.

  • LibertyRising

    This needs to go viral: an internet-driven boycott of all RIAA companies. A complete shut down of RIAA-associated sales: CDs, downloads, everything. If that happens, you can bet the police-state police dogs will cease and desist, as their masters see billions of dollars lost to the boycott. We don't NEED music or video – boycotting will not hurt the consumers a bit (in fact, you'll be saving money) but the companies can't survive without us..

  • Canuck

    I don't support SOPA as written – even as a Canadian as it would allow the long arm of the US law to take down websites from here due to the convoluted way it is written, but when it comes to megaupload I have zero sympathy and here's why – I co-produced and financed a movie that is slated for worldwide release early next month yet a copy (many copies actually) were being shared on megaupload before it had even hit the theatres and DVD release as someone in the European distribution chain leaked it.

    Now we were completely happy to allow file sharing of our movie and will still encourage it AFTER it appears in the theatres and was put out on DVD but to have it happen BEFORE has hurt our bottom line. If smaller producers of movies like us cannot make money because of theft/sharing there will not be many independent movies released. Why should we work for peanuts or anyone else for that matter?

    It didn't matter how many DMCA requests, legal contacts etc we used, megaupload would not remove all of our movie files or stop them from being re-uploaded to their servers. So when they can irk a company who is FOR file sharing, then again – no sympathy – throw the book at the a-holes SOPA or not.

  • Valerianus

    The particularly obnoxious point about UMG is that they apparently are attempting to use an alleged breach of contract by the rap artists who contributed to the "Mega Song" to claim ownership of the song. This is a case point why SOPA, not merely in regard to its complete unconstitutionality but also as a matter of civil law, is a hideously bad piece of legislation. To enable a well-connected consortium to assert ownership of intellectual property it did not create or commission to have created is nothing more and nothing less than theft. Left in place, this law will metastasize like a cancer and result in a plundering of the masses by cronies of the political caste.