Seems the major labels aren’t averse to rolling up their sleeves and playing dirty, even if their actions are blatantly fraudulent and deceptive.
Megaupload, and site where literally millions of people upload material that can then be easily shared around the world has been the thorn in the side of the majors for some time now as the site does not filter what their users are uploading to check if they have permission to do so.
There are provisions in the United States copyright laws that allow the majors to remove any copyrighted material but the very existence of the website appears to have really annoyed them. The peak body repesnting the majors, The RIAA, is on record calling Megaupload a “notorious service” that “thumbs their noses at international laws, all while pocketing significant advertising revenues from trafficking in free, unlicensed copyrighted materials.”
So when a bunch of their artists team up to appear in an ad promoting the service as a great way for artists to share music with other artists, producers, or even shock horror their fans, Universal Music did the only thing a big corporation with lots of money can do. Lie.
How have they been lying? They’ve been issuing ‘take-down’ notices to every site that hosts the video advertisement pretending they own the copyright to the ad. Most websites are used to the take-down system by now and therefore have had no reason to question the legitimacy of Universal’s claims.
Universal will also no doubt be aware that under the current laws a website who has received a take-down notice must wait at least 10 days before restoring the material, therefore effectively censoring the advertisement until the end of next week.
Megaupload says that the music and artwork in the video are original, and that it has signed agreements with everyone who appeared in it. Seizing upon the irony of the situation they found themselves in where they could play the copyright victim, Megaupload have promptly filed a lawsuit in US federal court.
In the lawsuit they have accused Universal of “abusing the DMCA takedown mechanism to chill free speech they do not like.” It continued saying “UMG has squashed not only the video itself, but even public comment about it by others, including a 45 minute news broadcast that criticized UMG. The Court should act immediately to ensure the public that such tactics will not be tolerated.”
The judge assigned to the suit, Judge Claudia Wilken, has acted quicklu filing a brief order on Wednesday afternoon where she said she would “defer ruling” until Universal had a chance to respond. She’s given the label 24 hours to show just-cause for their actions.
In the meantime we have to wonder if Universal’s claims are found to be fraudulent what mechanism is there for reprimand? It’s fair enough for copyright holders to have a mechanism to protect their assets but when they abuse the system it starts to lose its legitimacy.
You can watch the ad below until Universal gets it removed.