With all the blackouts and SOPA? PIPA? NOPA! chanting yesterday, we missed this exquisite gem of a revelation: Swizz Beatz, husband to Alicia Keys and producer-in-residence at NYU, also happens to be the CEO of Megaupload.com. [Ed note: Megaupload's lawyer now says Mr. Beatz was only negotiating to the CEO.]
For the uninitiated, Megaupload is a service that lets users send and share large media files. It also happens to the site Betabeat used just last night to watch a, um, free version of the latest episode of “New Girl” since the ad-supported version was unavailable on Hulu. Under SOPA’s strict guidelines, we believe the punishment for such impudence is being drawn-and-quartered.
According to the New York Post, which “outed” Mr. Beatz as the company’s chief executive, the musician has gotten his celebrity friends in trouble by asking them to promote the site. Everyone from Kim Kardashian to Chris Brown to Serena Williams appears in the company’s catchy new “Mega Song” commercial. But Sean “Diddy” Combs, Kanye West, and Will.i.am, in particular, caught heat for it because their label, Universal Music Group, issued a take-down notice last month for unauthorized performances when the promo appeared on YouTube. Guess it didn’t help that Kanye appeared sorta blazay blah to be participating.
Megaupload’s Crunchbase page says the company was launched in Hong Kong in 2005. Wikipedia, that patron saint of lazy students everywhere, lists Kasseem Dean (Swizz Beatz’s given name) as the company’s CEO without a citation, which means if the Post is correct, he came in at a later stage in the company’s history. Betabeat has reached out to Mr. Beatz’s agent and publicist and will update you when we hear back. UPDATE: His publicist just confirmed to Betabeat that Swizz Beatz is the CEO of Megaupload.com. [Ed note: Megaupload's lawyer now says Mr. Beatz was only negotiating to the CEO.]
Back in December, Megaupload sued Universal alleging that its service had signed contracts from the performers, including Will.i.am, reported Wired.com. Although Universal admitted to using YouTube’s content filers to have the $3 million production removed, UMG argued it wasn’t an abuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and maintained that Megaupload had no grounds for a lawsuit.
Yesterday, a representative for Megaupload told the Post:
“We have never received any word that any artist has [individually] filed a take-down . . . [we have] legally binding agreements with the performers that appear in the video . . . They promised that they had the rights to enter into that agreement and it’s not interfering with any third-party rights.”
The record industry, of course, has been engaged in a heated battle with file sharing sites like Megaupload and lobbied Congress on behalf of SOPA and PIPA to censor their growth. In the commercial, Megaupload claims to have 1 billion users overall and 50 million per day.
As Fact Mag notes, “The fact that one of hip-hop’s leading producers holds such a high position in a site like this could represent the final nail in the coffin for record sales as a valid part of the genres’s economy – if that nail hasn’t been hammered in already.” So much for that without-SOPA-there-is-no-Adele argument, huh?
Here’s the offending commercial, we promise its at least as good as anything to come out of the Black Eyed Peas canon: