Digital Legal MegaUpload Timeline

MegaUpload accuses Universal of takedown abuse over all-star video

By | Published on Monday 12 December 2011


An all-star song dedicated to the wonders of MegaUpload, the Hong Kong-based file-sharing platform, has been taken down off YouTube because of a copyright complaint by Universal Music, despite the tech company claiming it owns all the copyrights in the video.

The ode to MegaUpload features contributions for numerous a-list US artists, including Kanye West, Diddy, Snoop Dogg,, Alicia Keys, Lil Jon, Chris Brown and Jamie Foxx, all of whom advocate using the MegaUpload service. Similar to Rapidshare, MegaUpload enables users to share digital files that are too large to email with other people via the web.

Such services have been criticised by many music and movie companies for allowing users to make copyrighted work available over the web without licence, especially as files available for public download via the file-sharing platforms often appear in search engine results, meaning other users do not need to be directly invited to make illegal copies of content.

Rights owners have called on the operators of such services to put filters in place that block anyone trying to share copyright material via their platforms, though the legal obligations on said service providers to instigate such filters are currently unclear – in the few court cases there have been, things haven’t always gone in the content industries’ favour.

Although litigation by the music industry against RapidShare has been more high profile, MegaUpload is also a target for the labels and studios, especially in the US. Making the appearance of so many major label artists in the recently produced MegaUpload song all the more amusing. They were presumably persuaded to take part by Printz Board, the producer and Black Eyed Peas collaborator recruited by MegaUpload founder Kim Schmitz – aka Kim Dotcom – to make the promotional video.

When told by Torrentfreak that his new video had been taken down off YouTube because of a copyright complaint by Universal Music, Schmitz said: “Mega owns everything in this video. And we have signed agreements with every featured artist for this campaign. Those UMG criminals. They are sending illegitimate takedown notices for content they don’t own. Dirty tricks in an effort to stop our massively successful viral campaign”.

The video seemed to reappear on the official Kim Dotcom YouTube channel for a while yesterday, but then disappeared again, though it can still be found elsewhere on other YouTube pages. It remains to be seen what action Schmitz will now take, given his claims he owns all the rights in what does seem to be an original piece of work.

It may well be that Universal has exclusivity contracts with various artists who feature in the video barring them from making recordings for third parties without the major’s permission, though whether that is technically enough to force a video offline under either YouTube’s terms or US copyright law isn’t entirely clear, especially if featured artists did sign personal wavers.