Universal Music has been getting a lot of bad publicity online lately, after they filed a takedown request and illegally removed a music video produced by Megaupload from YouTube. The song, featuring several mainstream pop celebrities, is original work and the accusation of copyright infringement has caused some head-scratching. Megaupload is now suing Universal over the abuse of the DMCA.
Tech News Today, a podcast in the TWiT network, covered the story in Monday’s episode, just like various blogs have done since the news broke. Since Tech News Today is cross-published to TWiT’s YouTube channel, they have, strangely, been dragged into the fight. A few hours after the show went up, it was taken down from YouTube on “copyright grounds,” at the request of Universal. That’s right, a panel of pundits talks about a news story involving Universal, plays a 5-10 second snippet of the song that Megaupload produced, and their video gets a DMCA takedown request.
TWiT sent a counter-notice later, and the video was restored, only to have it taken down again by Universal shortly after. TWiT is currently on their second counter-notice.
The TNT episode was taken down for reporting on Megaupload’s video and specifically for showing it. We have counter-noticed twice.
— Tom Merritt (@acedtect) December 13, 2011
This farce is dragging into the spotlight a problem that has long been an issue with the DMCA. The law is used just as often to censor criticism and squash fair use as to take down legitimate infringements. Since the defendant usually has to go to court in order to fight the takedown, which is expensive and time-consuming for individuals, the large businesses filing the claim can usually get away with it.
Update: TNT talks in greater detail about the issue in Episode 392: Conspiracy Theory Tuesday.