Friday, January 20, 2012

The Death of Megaupload: What Does The Future Hold?

A day after the SOPA bill died in Congress, federal prosecutors decided to shutter Megaupload, one of the most popular websites for uploading and downloading files online. Seven people were arrested and those arrested members face up to 55 years in prison if convicted. Megaupload, at one point, was the 13th most visited website in the world.

The story is even more intriguing. Famous hip-hop producer Swizz Beatz (real name: Kasseem Dean) best known for his marriage to Alicia Keys and production credits for songs from Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Busta Rhymes was apparently named the company's CEO. That's currently being called into question, although there's little doubt that he at the very least invested in the site.

Dean's relationship with Megaupload led to a video circulating featuring many of his celebrity friends (ranging from Kim Kardashian to Kanye West) championing the site's usage. The Mega Song featured vocals from Will.I.Am and Macy Gray. This led to a lawsuit from Universal Music Group claiming that their artists had not been cleared to either appear on the video or participate in the making of the song. There was also a takedown notice from Will.I.Am sent to Megaupload.

Of course, Megaupload made the rounds on all kinds of sites, including hip hop sites such as World Star Hip Hop, who among a couple of other websites had been temporarily shuttered by Homeland Security due to copyright infringement last year.

So what becomes of the future of Internet cloud sharing? Many people believe that other sites are soon to follow such as Rapidshare and Mediafire.

What I would be interested in finding out is if any of the entities in the Mega Song video invested in Megaupload and if so, how much? Essentially, they would be making (advertising) money off of some of their own pirated downloads (and potentially more than they would be making off of their legal downloads...except for you Kim Kardashian, no one ever would download Jam legally OR illegally). It sounds completely conceivable given that Swizzy is friends with many of those listed in the video.

A group of hackers known as Anonymous used their hacktivism to take down Universal Music Group, BMI, the Department of Justice, and the RIAA amongst other related websites. The near future for those websites is going to be extremely turbulent.

In the meanwhile, the anti-piracy legislation known as PIPA, the Protect IP Act is currently making the rounds in the Senate.

Trent Reznor, Amanda Palmer and OK Go are amongst the artists speaking out against the pair of anti-piracy bills.

The future of Megaupload hangs in the balance, but where one entity dies, another will take its place and I think this is going to be a long, drawn-out battle. This is not going to be as cut and dry as the Napster case was and because of a legitimate artist like Dean being involved, it will probably have more twists and turns in the case.

I, for one, would like to see how this evolves and if there are any other artists implicated in this.

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