UPDATE: Hypebot is reporting that as of 9:50 am this morning (ET) both the Universal and the Warner Music websites were still down.
Tango down! The timing
of all this, coming a day after the anti-SOPA/PIPA forces successfully managed
to undermine Congressional support for the controversial piracy bills, is definitely
not a coincidence.
By Fred Mills
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the
Department of Justice with… well, you know. Yesterday, Jan. 19, the hugely
popular file-sharing site MegaUpload was shut down by the U.S. Justice
Department and federal prosecutors charged its founder along with company
executives with internet piracy. Response was swift – from hacker group
Anonymous, that is. Before the end of business yesterday, the hacktivist
organization had attacked and disabled the DoJ website along with the sites of Universal
Music Group, the RIAA and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
Reports at Billboard.com outlined the Thursday events, noting that “an
indictment accuses MegaUpload.com of costing copyright holders more than $500
million in lost revenue from pirated films and other content… the Justice
Department said in a statement said that Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim
Schmitz, and three others were arrested Thursday in New Zealand at the request
of U.S. officials. Two other defendants are at large.” Based in Hong Kong, the CEO of the business is producer (and
husband of Alicia Keys) Swizz Beats, but he is not listed as among the
indictees. (Read the 72-page indictment.)
MegaUpload has been around since 2005 and had become one of the world’s most
popular enablers of sharing large digital files, and it had also become
semi-notorious in the entertainment industry due to it being championed by a number
of high-profile musicians and celebs such as Kanye West and Will.I.Am.
Many of the files transferred at the site were no doubt legitimate and
legal, but as one might expect from a site where music and film files are
common currency, many of them also contained copyrighted material that can’t
legally be shared unless authorized by the copyright holders, typically record
labels and movie studios. As Billboard points out, “MegaUpload is considered a ‘cyberlocker,’
in which users can upload and transfer files that are too large to send by
email. Such sites can have perfectly legitimate uses. But the Motion Picture
Association of America, which has campaigned for a crackdown on piracy,
estimated that the vast majority of content being shared on MegaUpload was in
violation of copyright laws.The website allowed users to download films, TV
shows, games, music and other content for free, but made money by charging
subscriptions to people who wanted
access to faster download speeds or extra content. The website also sold
At any rate, Billboard goes on in a second report regarding the Anonymous
attacks, quoting a DoJ spokesman as saying, “We are having website problems,
but we’re not sure what it’s from.” Anonymous operative Barrett Brown then reportedly
British website RT , “It was in retaliation for Megaupload, as was the
concurrent attack on Justice.org.” As noted above, the RIAA, the MPAA and the
Universal sites also went down.
At the Anonymous Twitter account, AnonOps tweeted,
“One thing is certain: EXPECT US! #Megaupload” and followed that
shortly later with “Tango down! http://universalmusic.com & http://www.justice.gov//
Read a comprehensive, updated account of all this also at Billboard.biz.