YouTube: Universal Music Abused the System

That cheeky Megaupload ad is back on YouTube, and apparently it never should have been taken down in the first place.

The controversial video, in which popular hip-hop performers including Kanye West, Mary J. Blige and will.i.am literally sing the praises of Hong Kong-based file-sharing service Megaupload, was reinstated last Wednesday.

“Our partners do not have the right to take down videos from YT unless they own the rights to them or they are live performances controlled through exclusive agreements with their artists, which is why we reinstated it,” said a YouTube spokesperson.

Apparently Universal Music abused YouTube’s content filter system to remove the video, which cost Megaupload a cool $3 million to produce, shortly after it was uploaded. Megaupload has since taken Universal to court, claiming the company violated a provision in copyright law designed to prevent bogus copyright claims. Universal wouldn’t disclose why they removed the video, at least not in court, but it has accused Megaupload of enabling piracy in the past.

According to Universal’s lawyers, Megaupload isn’t entitled to monetary compensation even though the takedown wasn’t legit. Universal’s argument is that YouTube’s private content filtering system doesn’t count as an official takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and thus the company isn’t legally liable. Megaupload’s lawyer Ira Rothken called the argument “preposterous.”

“UMG did not have a good faith belief that this video was infringing any of their copyrights,” he said. “What they are basically arguing, they can go ahead and suppress any speech they want without any consequences. That’s not a workable paradigm.”

Universal has previously argued that YouTube video takedowns do come under the purview of the DMCA, and, because of that, it doesn’t have to consider “fair-use” doctrine when taking down videos such as this one.

No word on how YouTube will respond to Universal’s attempt to game the system, presumably we’re going to see some savage finger-wagging.

Source: Wired

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