Swizz Beatz’ File-sharing Site Gets His Celeb Friends In Trouble
Swizz Beatz is a music producer, artist and a multifaceted mogul-in-the-making but is he also a pirate? According to Universal Music Group, indirectly, he is. Swizz Beatz, born Kasseem Dean is the CEO and a principal investor in Megaupload, the second highest trafficked file-sharing site on the Web. As we’ve seen with their support of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills the recorded music and film industries aren’t too keen on sites that make it easier for users to share or pirate copyrighted material.
Things have gotten especially sticky for Swizz Beatz since he enlisted celebrity friends like Kanye West, The Game, will.i.am and Sean “Diddy” Combs to sing the praises of Megaupload in a series of promotional Web videos. The problem with the aforementioned artists and others who’ve spoken on behalf of Megaupload like Mary. J Blige is that the parent company of their respective record labels is Universal Music Group (UMG), one of the main corporate interests lobbying to get sites like Megaupload more strictly regulated or even shutdown under the proposed anti-piracy bills.
The New York Post is reporting that after the promo videos made their debut last month UMG served YouTube with a “take-down notice” claiming that the appearances by UMG artists were unauthorized. Sources says Megaupload responded with a lawsuit against Universal to stop it from blocking the clips’ distribution. A Megaupload rep had this to say to 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.”
Given today’s “SOPA blackout” protest in which sites like Wikipedia are participating and Swizz’s connection to both sides of the issue (he regularly gets paid to produce for UMG artists yet he’s also invested in Megaupload) it’ll be interesting to see how this all unfolds.