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
    TtfnJohn (profile), 13 Dec 2011 @ 10:51am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Nope, if will.i.am or his agent neglected to inform Megaupload of an exclusivity clause in his contract with them then it's will.i.am who is liable and actionable for that by BOTH Megaupload and UMG.

    None of that affects in any way the separate contract will.i.am has with his music publisher who, it seems, aren't complaining.

    You're right, the contract with Megaupload would be null and void IF and only IF UMG has an specifically and carefully set out exclusivity clause covering where, when and for whom will.i.am and the black eyed peas could perform. (Jointly and severally.)

    Either way, that doesn't trigger a DCMA takedown notice. At worst it triggers a letter or two between lawyers and will.i.am gets edited out of the ad.

    IF though, all will.i.am is repeat statements he's made publically prior to the ad being recorded, even if he used different words to that effect, the exclusivity clause itself, should one exist, is in question. He's on the public record as saying this so UMG still hasn't a leg to stand on. Well, not a good one, anyway.

    Complex, isn't it? Now, pay attention and drop your prejudices at the door, please.

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