Is Universal Music Using Bogus DMCA Takedowns As A Negotiating Tactic?

from the sure-looks-like-that dept

Last week, Bas called our attention to a report claiming that hip hop artist Skepta saw his own song taken down from YouTube via a DMCA claim from Universal Music... because Universal wanted to buy the song to give to Eminem. The details of the story are still a bit sketchy, and I didn't write about it at the time, because it does appear that whoever had the rights to the song (Skepta and some others) did agree to sell the song to Jimmy Iovine, head of Interscope Records, a Universal Music subsidiary. Even if Skepta apparently reacted with surprise to the takedown, he did appear to agree to the sale.

However, the reports certainly indicated some very questionable timing when it came to the takedown from Universal. If the various reports -- mostly based on Skepta's own tweets -- are accurate, then it certainly sounds as though Universal issued the takedown prior to buying the song, in an effort to keep the song from being seen as being out there. In other words, if the reports are accurate, then it sounds like Universal/Interscope/Iovine may have used the DMCA takedown as a negotiating tactic to try to buy the song from Skepta and crew. That would be a clear abuse of the DMCA, though one where it's unlikely to have any consequences, since Skepta and the others with copyright interest in the song agreed to sell. Still, if the reporting on the story is accurate, it's a pretty damning example of how certain parties view the DMCA.

Of course, it's also worth noting that if the point of the takedown was to erase the song "Dare to Dream," from the internet until Eminem could have his way with it, it's failed miserably. Because of the takedown (hello, Streisand Effect), the song is getting a ton of attention and is being uploaded all over the place.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    dave blevins, Jul 20th, 2011 @ 1:19pm


    Hey guys, isn't it WAY PAST time that false "takedowners" got more than a "darn you" here on Techdirt? Like a prohibition on ANY takedowns of, say, 30 days for the 1st one, 90 for the 2nd and forever for the 3rd? And these prohibitions should follow any name changes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2011 @ 1:19pm

    Remember when this DMCA was coming up before vote as a bill? It was stated by the RIAA that it would be used as was intended and not abused.

    Now we have the ProtectIP bill coming up with the same sort of statement. Be very wary if this passes as it is a law for all to use, not just the MAFIAA. Any and all vague uses will be put to use with company having a clear advantage to use it. Rest assured that will be abused.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2011 @ 1:20pm

    The DMCA is just another tool in the copyright lawyer's bag to seperate people from their money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 20th, 2011 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Takedowns

    what should Techdirt prohibit Universal records from?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    cc (profile), Jul 20th, 2011 @ 1:28pm

    Not actually a "negotiating tactic" as much as a way to reduce competition from other labels, who could have found the song and started a bidding war with Universal.

    Basically, this artist SO got screwed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Thomas (profile), Jul 20th, 2011 @ 1:50pm

    They know..

    full well they can get away with the bogus DMCA takedowns, so why not go ahead and do it? Lawyers know full well that they will never suffer any punishment for bogus takedowns.

    The music/entertainment lawyers know full well how to screw people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Jul 20th, 2011 @ 2:26pm

    I love when the abuse goes the other way the pro i-pea brains are silent.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Jul 20th, 2011 @ 2:31pm

    Re: Takedowns

    ... a three strikes for false DMCA takedowns. That would be so karmically perfect.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Zot-Sindi, Jul 20th, 2011 @ 2:52pm


    Well, duh, of course they are, it's what they wanted in the first place, to screw people over and control everything. Never let 'em convince you otherwise.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Modplan (profile), Jul 20th, 2011 @ 3:20pm


    ^This. Reminds of of the point Cracked made about studios buying up scripts simply so no one else could have them (even if they had no intention of making the film). uck.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Lauriel (profile), Jul 20th, 2011 @ 5:06pm

    Re: Takedowns

    If you are accused of DMCA takedown abuse, you may use one of the following pre-defined defenses:

    i) Misidentification of Account - the "it wasn't me" defense.

    ii) Unauthorised Use of Account - the "damn pirates hacked us" defense.

    iii) Authorisation - the "DMCA takedown request was authorised by management, who are totally clueless as to the correct usage" defense.

    iv) Fair Use - the "they're damn pirates, so our use of DMCA was fully justified" defense.

    v) Go on - plead the fifth. We dare you.

    vi) Misidentification of File - the "we actually meant to take down someone else's totally legal content" defense.

    vii) Work Published Before 1923 - the "issuing the DMCA was not copyright bullying, but simply conceding the fact that there is no such thing as 'public domain'" defense.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    The eejit (profile), Jul 20th, 2011 @ 11:35pm

    Re: Re:

    So they have puppet strings tied to you to make you bend over?

    Yup, definitely accurate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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