Megaupload, one of the Internet’s largest and most popular file storage sites, has been shut down by federal investigators in what is now being called one of the largest criminal copyright cases ever, according to The New York Times. In a 72-page indictment—available via Scribd here—the prosecutors allege that the company generated $175 million in income, while “causing $500 million in damages to copyright holders.” As of yesterday, four of the site’s seven founders were arrested in New Zealand.
Oddly enough the notorious file-sharing site made news earlier in the week when the New York Post discovered that Swizz Beatz, the celebrated hip-hop producer, is the CEO of the company. This revelation came to light after a scandal involving a YouTube video celebrating Megaupload featuring a bevy of artists including Kanye West, Chris Brown, Diddy and Swizz Beatz’s wife, Alicia Keys. Universal Music Group quickly forced YouTube to take down the video, alleging that none of the artists involved received clearance to appear in the commercial. Megaupload fired back, claiming UMG was infringing on their free speech rights and filed a lawsuit; however, that case now appears to be the least of the company’s legal worries.
In yet another bizarre twist to the story, Gizmodo reports the hacker/activist/prankster collective known as Anonymous responded to the seizing of Megaupload by launching a scorched earth hacking spree. The collective took responsibility for crashing a variety of sites, including those belonging to the RIAA, Universal Music Group, EMI, the U.S. Copyright office, the MPAA and the FBI.
Swizz Beatz has yet to release a statement regarding the arrests. Yesterday, via his Twitter account, the producer posted an Instagramed photo of a fortune cookie message bearing the words, “Your kindness will lead you to happiness.”
In the spirit of kindness, here’s the video for the Swizz-produced T.I. hit “Bring Em Out,” which is still available “legally” through YouTube: