Credit: Jerritt Clark/Getty Images

When the federal government shut down popular file-sharing site Megaupload on Thursday, the war over Internet piracy seemed to sweep its first famous casualty into the line of fire.

In a widely circulated report, Kasseem Dean (known better to the world as either Swizz Beatz or Mr. Alicia Keys) was referred to as the company’s CEO, and there were expectations that he would be one of the targets of the case.

But according to the 75-page now-unsealed indictment, Dean is not involved with the suit, and his name does not appear anywhere in the document. There are seven targets, four of which have already been apprehended, including owner Kim Dotcom. None of them are Dean.

And though there were rumors that Dean had been some sort of “silent partner” in the business, Megaupload’s lawyers said that the hip-hop mogul’s involvement in the company had been greatly exaggerated. “He was in conversations to be named CEO,” attorney Ira P. Rothken told the New York Daily News. “His involvement in the company was highly attenuated. There were discussions and he was involved in a promotional video and in brainstorming future projects, but not much else.”

In fact, Rothken told the Washington Post, “My understanding is that there wasn’t actually a CEO of the company.” And Forbes noted, “If [Dean] was involved, it wasn’t on the books.”

So even if Swizz had a series of tertiary relationships with Megaupload, his involvement wasn’t deep enough to include him in this suit. As for the future of the site, they are entering into some very murky legal waters. It will be extremely difficult to prove that Megaupload committed crimes at all, and even if they did, it will be doubly hard to prove those crimes happened in the United States (most of the company’s operations are based out of New Zealand, though the service is available worldwide).

And if there’s one thing that yesterday’s Anonymous attack on the websites of the DOJ and RIAA proved, the hackers are always going to be seven or eight steps ahead of legislation and litigation.

What do you think of the Megaupload fiasco? Is there a better way to police piracy than this? Wave your digital Jolly Roger in the comments.


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