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The stink of differential justice is yet again smelled surrounding a massive "anti-piracy" effort

There are a number of things curious about the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations and U.S. Department of Justice's haphazard takedown of the popular content storage site Megaupload among them:

+ If the site was truly involved in $500M USD in copyright threat, what took the FBI so long to act?  The site has been live for seven years now and used by millions of Americans.

+ How is Megaupload fundamentally any different than Google Inc.'s (GOOG) YouTube?  Like YouTube users upload content which the site cannot control.  Megauploads admins have suspended accounts in the past for users who were caught uploading copyrighted work.

+ If Megaupload was so evil why did many major artists support it?  (Last we checked big pop artists are no fans of sites who deliberately promote infringement.)  And why did these big music labels try to stop those artists from showing their support?

+ But most of all:

Why is Megaupload's CEO, famous American DJ, rapper, and producer Swiss Beatz (best known as the husband of Alicia Keyes, perhaps) not named in the lawsuit?

Virtually every other employee -- including the company's CMO and CTO -- at Megaupload is facing criminal piracy charges, but for some reason this key American music insider was not even mentioned in the Grand Jury's complaint [PDF].

Some have pointed out that Swiss Beatz owns no stake in Megaupload, merely served as its leader.  But that hardly makes a difference, given that he was leading a company that the feds claims was profiting off infringement.

Swiss Beatz
[Image Source: GQ Magazine]

To Swiss Beatz credit, he surely never wanted Megaupload to be whacked down like this -- he was its biggest fan, and convinced many artists of its merits.  And it's hard to fault him for keeping quiet -- after all who would rather be in jail than free?

Swiss Beatz
[Image Source: HipHop DX]

But this yet again shows the differential brand of justice that is applied to piracy in America.  Major music labels troll the internet looking for people to sue, yet at the same time steal hundreds of millions in yearly revenue from small independent artists by seizing and selling their work under questionable laws.

SOPA House author Rep. Lamar Smith (R- Tex.) or his staff stole copyrighted images from a small artist and used them without payment or citation on the campaign site that helped elect him, yet now he wants to imprison Americans for intellectual property theft?

And what about the rest of Congress, who were initially so supportive of SOPA/PIPA, while their offices were caught illegally torrenting pornography and other copyrighted work?  

And how can Rupert Murdoch support SOPA when his own employees were caught stealing text messages and voice mails from the families of murdered children and dead soldiers, in a sickening profit scheme?

Clearly the American justice system consists of two groups -- "the proles", which contains everyone from your college educated professionals to your McDonald's Corp. (MCD) fast food workers, and then "the inner party", a fortunate lot that includes millionaire musicians, big media executives, and their hired help (politicians).

Source: New York Post

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Bought and paid for
By villageidiotintern on 1/20/2012 10:32:54 AM , Rating: 5
The US Government is a bought for by and paid for by service of the MPAA and the RIAA acting on their behalf with no regard for the little people.

RE: Bought and paid for
By masamasa on 1/20/2012 11:15:05 AM , Rating: 5
Watch that documentary narrated by Matt Damon and you'll just how corrupt the US government is and how they are also in bed with Wallstreet. It's corruption at its finest. They are no longer working for the people, they are just working to fill their bank accounts by partnering with big corporation. It's the same in every country.

Power is given, power is abused, those in power get rich, and then inevitably they depart with their piles of cash. Bunch of limey bastards.

RE: Bought and paid for
By StevoLincolnite on 1/20/2012 12:56:49 PM , Rating: 1
It's the same in every country.

It really isn't. It's just more prevalent in the USA.

RE: Bought and paid for
By Etsp on 1/20/2012 1:56:07 PM , Rating: 3
I think you misread that chart... Higher numbers mean LESS corruption.
As of 2010, the CPI ranks 178 countries "on a scale from 10 (very clean) to 0 (highly corrupt)."
The USA is about middle of the pack when it comes to first-world corruption. We can honestly do much better, but at this point it's not bad compared to other countries. In many places, bribes are simply a part of doing business.

RE: Bought and paid for
By SoCalBoomer on 1/20/2012 1:59:34 PM , Rating: 2
You did realize that you linked to an article talking about PERCEPTION of corruption, yes?

And the higher number is actually BETTER, lower (and red) is WORSE? So the article shows that it's LESS prevalent in the USA (according to your linked article) - you did realize that, yes? "As of 2010, the CPI ranks 178 countries "on a scale from 10 (very clean) to 0 (highly corrupt)."

RE: Bought and paid for
By StevoLincolnite on 1/20/12, Rating: -1
RE: Bought and paid for
By Keeir on 1/20/2012 7:21:25 PM , Rating: 2
Errr.. the issue is that your taking a very local approach to your comment though...

Looking at the world population, more than 80% live in areas of higher perceived corruption and less than 10% live in areas of significantly lower perceived corruption. At some point in time "most" becomes "all" or at least for the purposes for state

Australia should be commended. They are highly ranked and still have a fairly large and diverse population. (A characteristic of the top ten are fairly small populations and fairly high cultural/racial dominate groups) But it probably should be noted that 75%+ of Australians are British Island immigrants or descended from British Island immigrants and most are fairly standard Christian religions or grew up in such families.

Perceptions of corruption often is related to feelings of fairness. Its easier to feel treated fair in a small homogeneous society.

RE: Bought and paid for
By OAKside24 on 1/20/2012 3:13:35 PM , Rating: 2
I think you're referring to (the awesome) Inside Job. Another great one to watch is Alex Gibney's (of Enron: The Smartest Guy in the Room fame) latest: Casino Jack and the United States of Money. It's about more than just Abramoff, but the entire culture of corruption in Washington, including a bit about PACs, campaign finance (legal bribery), etc.

RE: Bought and paid for
By geddarkstorm on 1/20/2012 11:19:35 AM , Rating: 5
If a government agency really did follow the whims of a corporation, sidestepping DMCA procedure and fair use laws, because they were bought out... I'd say it's time to call that what it is: Treason.

I am highly reserved though, and think there has to be something a lot worst going on behind the scenes that doesn't have anything to do with the usual copyright debates or DMCA laws. It's just hard for me to believe the DOJ would really pounce like the RIAA's lapdog, let alone cross national borders to go after New Zealanders for American issues.

But the fact the person who was in command and control of the entire company, the one responsible for the actions of its employees, the CEO, has been blatantly ignored in this...

It's a confusing mess. We have to wait for more information and see which of these contingencies are true.

RE: Bought and paid for
By TSS on 1/20/2012 11:26:12 AM , Rating: 2
I've said it before and i'll say it again. Everybody knows this already. And has known now for years.

Where is the revolution? Instead of occupy wall street, occupy the capitol and the senate.

Once you've gotten rid of wall streets cronies it's much easyer to get rid of wall street.....

RE: Bought and paid for
By Shig on 1/20/2012 2:30:18 PM , Rating: 5
We're in a revolution TSS. The standard of living is crashing for the majority of the western nations while debt continues to explode, the eastern nations have horribly exploited people with unsustainable populations, and the world is quickly running out of cheap and accessible energy that drive our economies.

When one sheds all their preconceived notions and political affiliations and takes a big step back to look at all the facts, the big picture is so scary most do not want to accept it and want to play the blame game.

Isn't this exactly what happens right before you go off the cliff? The problems go far beyond just our broken government.

RE: Bought and paid for
By Natch on 1/24/2012 9:14:34 AM , Rating: 2
Well, it's not as though this "Justice" Department has ever worried about justice.....or following any law that didn't agree with what they want to do. The Constitution? It's just another old document, we'll interpret as we see fit!

Differential Justice?
By jdonkey123 on 1/20/2012 10:26:39 AM , Rating: 3
To me, this surprising immunity for a central figure seems to be MORE than differential justice can offer! It smells like immunity for a cooperating witness!

RE: Differential Justice?
By JasonMick on 1/20/2012 10:42:30 AM , Rating: 3
To me, this surprising immunity for a central figure seems to be MORE than differential justice can offer! It smells like immunity for a cooperating witness!

That's one possibility/way they could try to spin it.

But a couple things about that....

a) If Megaupload's staff were dumb enough to voice pro-piracy sentiments to Beatz -- a major label musician -- and document such sentiments, then well, they're pretty dumb. Clearly they hired him because they wanted legitimacy, so that just makes sense.

b) Beatz's testimony is suspect, given that he could easily lie about conversations with his former coworkers and other impossible to verify sorts of evidence, if he does cooperate in exchange for freedom.

c) Usually if you're CEO of a company and you're caught in a sweeping criminal scheme and your fellow executive officers (CTO, CMO, etc.) are charged, it's your underlings who get made cooperating witness, not you. Did Kenneth Lay get immunity when Enron went down?

RE: Differential Justice?
By Obujuwami on 1/20/2012 2:06:11 PM , Rating: 2
One thing I think we are over looking is Alicia Keys. As with all niche groups, the RIAA/MPAA isn't going to sacrifice one of their own in order to stop the piracy. This was most evident when Radio Head, and now others, have put their entire album free for download on their website but the RIAA and others never said a thing. Just as congress isn't interested in sacrificing their own dirty "co-workers", the RIAA/MPAA isn't going to sacrifice those who bring money into their organization.

Maybe what we need is amendment to the constitution that will prevent special interests from buying laws that favor them. Maybe people should actually have to do what they say they will do once elected (like they do in Europe) in order to retain their seat representing their fellow Americans. Maybe what we need is a revolution...but I digress. Lets get that amendment on the books first, then work to remove those who are only in it for the money and power.

RE: Differential Justice?
By geddarkstorm on 1/20/2012 11:12:09 AM , Rating: 3
That's complete BS. You know why? He's the captain of the ship. If he knew things HE SHOULD HAVE ACTED to correct them (or fire all their arses). He's the CEO! If he knew things and DIDN'T act, then he would be right there on the chopping block too for implicitly going along with them, or if he was directly part of it again he should be first on the chopping block (if anything WAS even going on!). No matter how you slice it, as captain of the ship, he has the greatest responsibility, and is the one who should be first on trial in a case with such a massive take down.

I've seen Megaupload follow the DMCA repeatedly and thoroughly many times, which means it was doing its legal obligations all along! There could always be more to those story though, but none of this adds up in the slightest.

You know what this sounds like? The RIAA practicing for what it'll be like under SOPA/PIPA. It's a targetted strike and reprisal against the "black out" protests. Even if they didn't mean it that way (if this takedown process was following the laws and due process, it should have been in the works for weeks or months now), the timing is such that it has become so. This is now a battle for the internet itself and its cloud. The RIAA and DOJ just overstepped the DMCA and Fair Use laws.

The RIAA wouldn't touch the leader, the one with the greatest responsibility to answer for under the law, because they can use him to milk us for cash--but they sure as heck will tear down -your- door and lock -you- away in prison (or likely just fine you with a sum of money you'll send the rest of your life paying off.. to them!) on a whim if it suits their agenda.

Again, there could be a lot more to this story than we know that could make it suddenly make sense. So, I certainly won't discount that everyone acted rightly until we have such information clarifying what's really happening. But the timing of this couldn't be worst, and the incredibly lopsided, unethical appearance of favoritism is so blatant it stinks to the high heavens.

Again, what company has been completely taken down and the CEO not the first to answer for what's been going on under his/her control?

By TeXWiller on 1/20/2012 12:33:59 PM , Rating: 2
Although the WWII did significantly reform the system in Germany and the Eastern Block, not much was done by the US in the Western Europe in terms of forced political changes. Democratic principles had already firm roots in those countries were there was a multiparty democracy before the war.

Spain and the Nordic countries are assumigly good examples of this relative non-interference as Franco, for example, had his roots in the conservative Catholicism as I have understood. Meanwhile the US apparently openly created and supported dictatorships in elsewhere just to remove the horrors of independent nationalism (Congo) and communism where they were starting to raise their McCarthy-bashing heads. An independent nationalist deals with both sides of the iron curtain, the shock and horror!

Japan could be considered a counterexample to the general trend of the US aspirations, although the forced reforms of the legislative system were not really the core of the change, as much as the will of the people of Japan and the emperor was.

Too bad we didn't have Wikileaks then.

By michael67 on 1/20/2012 1:37:40 PM , Rating: 1
Marshall did not force dutch parliamentarian laws to change, but it did suggested some reforms that ware taken over by parliament.

Hell Holland had the first recorded modern democratic system in the world (the governing the dutch waterways, channels and dikes)
Of topic for how is interested:

By amagriva on 1/20/2012 5:49:44 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe you yanks misunderstood something about enforcing democracy with waterboard

Nice Article
By BladeVenom on 1/20/2012 2:04:13 PM , Rating: 3
I'm sick of the RIAA, MPAA, and all the corrupt politicians who are bought by the highest bidder.

@ Jason Mick
By chizow on 1/21/2012 3:28:48 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe you can hyperlink this one?

Its obvious Swizz Beatz has nothing to do with the decision-making of the company, so there was no reason for the DOJ to go after him. He's a big name schmoozer that gave Kim Dotcom et. al access to the legitimate "celebrity sponsors" of Megaupload.

Out of all the ink I've seen spilled on this, not a single article has bothered to state how much these frontmen and pitchmen (and women) were being paid to give this business the semblance of legitimacy.

To answer your question
By x10Unit1 on 1/20/2012 10:40:22 AM , Rating: 2
Do what I say, not as I do.

I am sure it is a little bit of "I know what's good for you" and a "little bit of money in the pocket"

Either way, this is not an uncommon practice. These types of laws that are passed are with the understanding that the politicians won't be held to the same standards of law as we are.

It could be
By KoS on 1/20/2012 10:57:54 AM , Rating: 2
With this justice dept, which there are examples of. It may be only skin deep!

The Time Is Coming...
By mmatis on 1/20/2012 12:45:04 PM , Rating: 2
for dead pigs. THEY are the foul swill who have spit on their oath to the Constitution and made a mockery of Rule of Law.

Stop financing them
By Nyu on 1/20/2012 1:28:26 PM , Rating: 2
We are all feeding these big criminal mafias like the RIAA and co at the end of the day; the highly bribed government will never do anything obviously;

If we want to put these companies on their place we should all stop consuming media for a while to let them know how much they are despised. Dont go to cinema anymore, dont buy any music anywhere, don't buy any games for SONY consoles, cancel netflix subscriptions, etc etc. Stop consuming for a few days if you really wanna do something about all this bs.

He's probably not CEO
By Just Tom on 1/20/2012 2:13:01 PM , Rating: 2
>Beatz, even if he is CEO, has only been CEO for an extremely short time. He has no equity in the company, and due to his short tenure (assuming he has an actual position in the company) is unlikely to be aware of any illegal activities.

Megaupload's lawyer even states Beatz is not the CEO of the company.

Q: What is the status of CEO Kaseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean?

A: In terms of CEO, my understanding is that there wasn’t actually a CEO of the company. He is almost a CEO.

Q: What does that mean?

A: I don’t think he was officially the CEO. He was still in negotiation on that.

It's obvious...
By hankw on 1/20/2012 2:56:15 PM , Rating: 2
Swiss Beatz was working for the Gov/RIAA the whole time, infiltrating the organization, etc, etc. ;)

Legal BRIBERY in the US
By faster on 1/21/2012 1:07:43 PM , Rating: 2
In the US, our courts have upheld bribery as legal. We even went so far as to recognize our corporations as people. Of course corporations have millions of dollars and never die, so they are kind of like a "superpeople". We allow them to make massive contributions to our politicians who cannot get elected without their contributions. It is LEGAL BRIBERY. If the rest of the world would legalize their bribery like us, they could climb the chart and look more legitimate. Of course it is completely illegitimate, the US people happen to be sheep and take whatever our corporations decide to jam down our throat. SHARING IS NOT PIRACY. The RIAA says it is and now they are passing laws to say it is. Is this in the best interst of the American people? No, but it means that you can't share something you bought with your friend without being a criminal. You must pay the big corporation everytime you share. They own you. They control you. They must have a iron clad legalized way to take your money or put you in jail. FU(K the RIAA!

By thatmikeguy on 1/23/2012 4:19:21 PM , Rating: 2
+ If the site was truly involved in $500M USD in copyright threat, what took the FBI so long to act?

LOL, yeah it usally takes longer! Look at politicions within the US, or anything outside of the US, this is not just about the US.

+ How is Megaupload fundamentally any different than Google Inc.'s (GOOG) YouTube?

They may be.

+ If Megaupload was so evil why did many major artists support it?

Major artists = major smart? They thought it further their carrier?

+ But most of all:

Why is Megaupload's CEO, famous American DJ, rapper, and producer Swiss Beatz (best known as the husband of Alicia Keyes, perhaps) not named in the lawsuit?

He did not do one or more of these things:

each knowingly and intentionally combined, conspired, and agreed together and with each other,
and with other persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to commit offenses against the
United States in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1956 and 1957, namely:
(a) to knowingly conduct and attempt to conduct a financial transaction
affecting interstate and foreign commerce, which in fact involved the proceeds of the specified
unlawful activity of criminal copyright infringement with the intent to promote the carrying on of
the specified unlawful activity of criminal copyright infringement, and that while conducting and 54
attempting to conduct such financial transaction knew that the property involved in the financial
transaction represented the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity in violation of Title 18,
United States Code, Section 1956(a)(1)(A)(i);
(b) to transport, transmit, and transfer and attempt to transport, transmit, and
transfer a monetary instrument and funds from a place in the United States to and through a place
outside the United States, and to a place in the United States from or through a place outside the
United States, with the intent to promote the carrying on of the specified unlawful activity of
criminal copyright infringement, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section
1956(a)(2)(A); and
(c) to knowingly engage and attempt to engage in monetary transactions in
criminally derived property of a value greater than $10,000 that is derived from the specified
unlawful activity of criminal copyright infringement, in violation of Title 18, United States Code,
Section 1957

You got your Orwell mixed up
By wordsworm on 1/23/2012 7:21:21 PM , Rating: 2
Only the proles and the animals are free. It's those in the inner party that he argues are not free.

He was not the CEO Yet
By toyotabedzrock on 1/25/2012 3:54:13 PM , Rating: 2
He was not the CEO Yet

Selective Enforcement is Legal
By jdietz on 1/21/2012 11:20:53 AM , Rating: 1
You are driving on a road. The car in front of you is speeding, the car behind you is speeding and you are speeding. You are arrested for speeding (the others aren't). This is legal.

It goes into illegal territory when someone pays for special treatment by authorities. This is bribery and it is a crime.

By B166ER on 1/22/2012 10:26:01 PM , Rating: 1
Im lovin' this shit, we got us some cyber Nino Brown, running shit and directing the blame to niggas in otha countries (like he directed shit to that pretty ass banker muthafucka). LOVE IT! This shit needs a movie! True new-age hustlin'!
This story is so deep, I bet its got many more connections we cant ever see. All we DO know, there was a lot of money runnin through this game, how much was Filesonic, Fileserve, Duckserve, all the rest of em are making? Sic, sick, sick.

By larson0699 on 1/23/2012 9:16:41 AM , Rating: 1
It's "Swizz Beatz" & Mick suggests he's arguably best known as Alicia's husband which is pretty fkin ignorant considering he's been in the game since DMX brought him in in the '90s. The whole article reads like "Why didn't the black guy get in trouble?" when most of us are concerned with much worse offenders than MEGA.

Sensationalist bullshit, same as it ever was.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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