A talented group of hackers called Anonymous have taken over the official website for BMI, or Broadcast Music Inc., a performing rights organization that collects royalties and such on behalf of songwriters. "Operation Payback is back. Our objectives are clear, war on Copywrong," Anonymous wrote on one of the posters they plastered on the BMI site, obviously taking a libertarian approach to "copyrights." Anonymous has previously taken down the websites for controversial groups like Scientologists and the Westboro Baptist Church, and now it seems they're taking aim at the music industry. (Concurrently, Anonymous is also threatening action against the U.S. military base holding Private Bradley Manning, the soldier arrested in connection to Wikileaks.)
The music industry has infamously battled with music fans since the advent of Napster. The saga of Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the Minnesota mother who's been fighting in court since 2006 after she was sued for $1.5 million for illegally sharing 24 songs on peer-to-peer program Kazaa, remains the centerpiece of the music industry's fight against copyright infringement, even though the actual war on piracy has moved on to sites like Rapidshare and Bit Torrent.
It's unclear why Anonymous, who wear V For Vendetta masks whenever they assemble in public, decided to strike now or why they hacked BMI as opposed to the Recording Industry Association of America, the organization that most commonly goes after illegal downloaders. "We have seen BMI consistently legislate copyright and consequently have decided to take action to show the people will not stand for its crimes against the public," Anonymous wrote on the BMI site. "This is a message to you and other corporations like you: We will not stand this abuse anymore. No company shall take advantage of our government to churn out profits and censor information in any form."
At press time, the BMI site was still down completely.