Print 36 comment(s) - last by toyotabedzrock.. on Jan 25 at 3:54 PM

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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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?

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