SOPA Opera

SOPA Opera

Scenes From the New York Anti-SOPA/PIPA Rally

8 Photos

Two prostestors drop the signs and go for the 'tape-over-mouth' approach, which is SO in right now.

The self-proclaimed geeks of the New York tech industry gathered outside senators’ Gillibrand and Schumer’s office Wednesday afternoon to protest the PIPA and SOPA acts, that they say will lead to the end of the internet as we know it.

Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, brought sympathy cards which he planned to hand-deliver to the senators, mourning the death of the internet.

Scott Heiferman, Meetup CEO, held up a sign after his speech that read, “Can we go back to work now?” in a cunning reference to the jobs the industry creates in New York, and perhaps the cold weather too. Read More

SOPA Opera

Megaupload Lawyer: Swizz Beatz Was Merely ‘Negotiating to Become the CEO’

The Beatz goes on.

The saga of Megaupload is really earning Betabeat’s “SOPA Opera” slug. To wit: Earlier this week, the New York Post reported that Swizz Beatz was the CEO of the rogue file-sharing company Megaupload. (The news was in the context of Megaupload’s lawsuit with Universal Music Group for using its clients, namely Kanye West,, and Sean “Diddy” Combs in promotional video called “Mega Song”.)

A few hours before the feds arrested four Megaupload executives and shut down the “cyberlocker,” Betabeat got confirmation from Swizz Beatz’s publicist, Phylicia Fant from the Purple Agency, that he was the CEO of the Megaupload. Betabeat also reached out to his agent at Universal Attractions, who did not respond directly to that question. However, as VentureBeat reports today, Attorney Ira Rothken, Megaupload’s “top lawyer,” says, “To my knowledge, Swizz Beatz was never involved in any meaningful way. He was negotiating to become the CEO, but it was never official.” Read More

SOPA Opera

Feds Bust Megaupload, So Anonymous Hacks the DOJ, RIAA, MPAA, and Universal Music Group

You mess with the Internet, you get Anonymous.

Well now we know why we haven’t been able to access at the Department of Justice’s press release about its raid on Megaupload for the past few hours!

The websites for the U.S. Justice Department, the Recording Industry Association of America, Motion Picture Association of America, and Universal Music Group have all been down this afternoon. As TPMIdeaLab reports, hackers who associate themselves with Anonymous are taking credit. Twitter accounts like @YourAnonNews and @AnonOps claim the attacks are in retaliation for today’s shutdown and arrests related to the file sharing site Megaupload. Read More

SOPA Opera

Federal Prosecutors Shut Down File Sharing Site Megaupload for Piracy Violations

Mr. Schmitz from the "Mega Song" video

The Associated Press is reporting that federal prosecutors in Virginia have shut down, one of the world’s largest file-sharing sites. The indictment accuses the company’s founder and six others of violating piracy laws.

Earlier today, we reported confirmation from Swizz Beatz’s publicist that the recording artist is indeed Megaupload’s current CEO, but he did not found the company, which was started out of Hong Kong in 2005. [UPDATE: Megaupload’s lawyer now says Swizz Beatz was merely negotiating to be the CEO.] Kim Schmitz, a German entrepreneur and hacker, is the company’s founder.

Mr. Schmitz, whose aliases are listed as Kim Dotcom and Kim Tim Jim Vestor in the indictment, has run afoul of the law before. Authorities say Mr. Schmitz and three other suspects, including senior executives, are already in custody. Read More

SOPA Opera

Surprising New Figure in the Piracy Wars? Swizz Beatz,’s Secret CEO

Incriminating evidence?

UPDATE: Federal Prosecutors Shut Down File Sharing Site Megaupload for Piracy Violations

UPDATE 2: Megaupload Lawyer: Swizz Beatz Was Merely ‘Negotiating to Become the CEO’

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 [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. Read More

SOPA Opera

PIPA Goes the Way of SOPA As Senators Rush to Distance Themselves


Ooh, ooh, ooh. What a little blackout (and 4.5 million signatures) can do for you! In the wake of unprecedented opposition yesterday, at least 26 Senators, including seven former co-sponsors have disavowed themselves from the Protect IP Act (PIPA). PIPA is the Senate’s version of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which had stalled out in the House under similar duress.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), one of PIPA’s former co-sponsors decided the bill was “simply not ready for prime time.”

Eighteen of the Senators now opposed are Republicans. Previously, as VentureBeat reports, PIPA had support from more than 40 Senators, who co-sponsored the bill. We’re currently having trouble accessing the OpenCongress site, however, earlier reports say the bill still had support from 33 senators, with a number of others who still have not made their position clear. Read More

SOPA Opera

New Yorkers: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Has Heard You on SOPA/PIPA, and She…Doesn’t Really Care?

Kirsten Gillibrand

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is a co-sponsor of PIPA, the sibling legislation for SOPA, the awful one that still contains the provision that would allow our government to shut down websites accused—not convicted of—but accused of copyright infringement. Today, there was quite a large protest outside of her office! 1,000 people and a bunch of Internet luminaries were there.

As it turns out, Sen. Gillibrand has heard the voice of the people! And as such, she has taken to her page on (the SOPA-opposed) Facebook to say… Read More

SOPA Opera

The Pirate Bay: Silly Congress, There Are Easy Workarounds to SOPA/PIPA


With blackout curtains shrouding the internet this morning, it’s hard not to think about what the web might look like if SOPA and PIPA passed. One company who isn’t sweating it? The Pirate Bay—yup, that’s right, the very site these laws were proposed to censor.

A Pirate Bay source told TorrentFreak that the company is concerned, but not about being shut down, “Of course we’re worried. Not so much for The Pirate Bay, as there are many workarounds, but for democratic reasons.” Indeed, via backup domains, alternative DNS-servers or proxy sites, both SOPA and PIPA can be circumvented, particularly since its advertising partners aren’t subject to U.S. laws. Read More

SOPA Opera

The Internet Needs Its Own Lobbyist: Kickstarter Clone Raising for Anti-SOPA Cause


Over the past two weeks,  staffers from HUGE, the Dumbo-based digital agency, have been at work on a different kind of interactive campaign. Yesterday around noon, a skunkworks team made up of software engineers, interaction designers, information architects, and more finally unleashed their side project on the world: a platform called We the Lobby that “makes the United States political system available to the 99% who can’t afford a lobbying group.”

“I put it up and I immediately went to sleep,” Sankho Mallik, a web developer and primary instigator for the site, which is unaffiliated with HUGE, told Betabeat.

We the Lobby works by allowing users to pool together micro-donations for political causes. As the accusation goes, Washington only listens to lobbyists, so why shouldn’t you get one of your own? Read More