Anonymous, the online 'hacktivist' collective with a history of strikes against anti-piracy groups, has launched an Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on BMI, the US agency that collects and distributes artists' musical royalties.
Sources at Broadcast Music Incorporated said the site had been taken down as a precautionary measure, but claimed its security had not been compromised.
In a statement, the company admitted that external access to the site had been slowed down by the attack, but added: "There has not been a breach of security into our systems in any form and access has not been obtained to any secure content. We believe that this attack is part of their misguided campaign to attack creative rights. The group has launched attacks on other agencies around the world representing creators in the past."
"Other than the website," said the company, "operations are not impacted by the company's protective move. BMI plans to resume full service of all online services for its songwriters, music publishers and licensees shortly."
WikiLeaks-loving online 'hacktivist' outfit Anonymous has a history of attacking anti-piracy bodies, and groups connected with major film and music studios.
A campaign of attacks launched last year under the banner 'Operation Payback' has targeted US film industry lobbyists the MPAA, record label Ministry of Sound and (now defunct) cowboy legal outfit ACS Law, which became notorious for 'speculative invoicing', a money-with-menaces scam that involved sending out thousands of demands for payment from alleged illegal downloaders - many of whom were in fact innocent.
The group announced the renewal of its campaign against copyright holders in a recent press release.
"Operation Payback is back. Our objectives are clear, war on Copywrong," read the statement. "We will not rest until our demands [are] met. Join the discussion, join the fight. The major shitstorm has resumed."
Explaining its choice of BMI, Anonymous said on Thursday:
"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. As of the time of the writing of this letter, BMI has been taken down by our successful attack.
"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. "This is unacceptable and will be dealt with accordingly by Anonymous.
"We are not pirates, we are not hackers in our mother's basement. We are Anonymous. We do not forgive, we do not forget, you should have expected us."