Megaupload Sues Universal Over Questionable Video Takedown, As Will.i.am Says He Sent Takedown Too

from the this-could-get-interesting dept

Following Megaupload's marketing campaign that involved getting a ton of big name stars (many signed to major record labels) to speak out in support of Megaupload (and then putting those quotes into a song), Universal Music Group started issuing questionable takedowns for the video. We've heard numerous theories as to why UMG might think it can do so, but none seem to hold up to much scrutiny. The music in question is not UMG's.

TorrentFreak reported that MegaUpload is preparing to sue Universal Music for the bogus takedowns, while THResq has the details. You can also see the actual lawsuit here (pdf or embedded below).

Universal is claiming that one of its artists, Gin Wigmore, had unauthorized work appear in the song, though it's unclear where or how. Megaupload continues to insist that it owns all of the music. Where it gets more bizarre is that apparently will.i.am, who appears in the video saying that he uses Megaupload to "send files across the globe" also sent his own takedown:
But we've also learned that Ken Hertz, attorney for Will.I.Am, also filed a takedown request last week with YouTube. What's going on here?

Hertz says that like many of the artists who appear in the video, his client had never consented to the "Megaupload Mega Song."

UMG echoes that sentiment. “This is an on-going dispute that surfaced several weeks ago with respect to the unauthorized use of a performance from one of our artists," a UMG spokesperson tells us. "We heard from a number of our other artists and their representatives who told us they’ve never consented to being portrayed in this video."
Now this is where things get interesting. If this is true, it certainly appears that Hertz is admitting to a bogus takedown. Even assuming that what he states is true -- that will.i.am did not give permission -- that's not a copyright claim. It would be a contractual issue. Furthermore, it seems like a pretty strange claim. It's pretty clear that will.i.am did, in fact, state that he uses Megaupload to send files across the globe. Megaupload insists it has clear contracts with all the artists in question, and I'm sure the details will come out as things move forward, but it still seems like Universal (and, now, will.i.am) have a lot of explaining to do.

And, of course, it seems really bizarre that UMG would think this was a prudent course of action, when the only thing it's really done is driven a hell of a lot more attention to Megaupload. Congrats, UMG, you just spent your efforts increasing the power of Megaupload's marketing campaign.

Filed Under: copyright, dmca, gin wigmore, takedowns, will.i.am
Companies: megaupload, riaa, universal music


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  1. icon
    G Thompson (profile), 13 Dec 2011 @ 10:19pm

    Re: Owning the copyright

    "what if the person (or UMG) claims to own copyright on the likeness of the person"

    Well seeing as copyright can only be fully assigned and not assigned in parts, this would mean that UMG owns the actual skin that the person is in. Means the person would need permission to go about all day to day activities, need permission to travel down the road, never be allowed to go to any place that might have CCTV's, still cameras, or people with eyeballs mark 1.0, let alone audio recording devices (and ears).

    Even slaves were given a better ability to interact with the world.

    As for appearing on Letterman.. That's a specific contractual clause that stops them appearing on a specific forum talking about specific things and does not in any way stop them from appearing and talking about something OTHER than what they are not allowed to contractually talk about. Even then they are CONTRACTUAL and not copyright issues and are very rarely enforced, and NEVER against political or public interest situations. Think Non disclosures for publicity reasons when talking about Media spots.

    I really think you are trying to make copyright into a catch all situation for every wrong you see with the world. Probably best if you re-looked and studied up on basic tort law & contract law again.

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