updated 11:40 am EST, Fri December 16, 2011
Universal pulled video under private YouTube deal
The argument between Universal Music Group and Megaupload over a YouTube-hosted music video from earlier this week has raised some new issues. UMG now claims that it had the right to take down the video from YouTube not under the DMCA but rather thanks to a private contract with YouTube, Ars Technica revealed on Friday. If this holds up, it could bring a dangerous precedent, as the deal would effectively get around the DMCA's abuse protection.
The issue stems from YouTube pulling a promotional video for MegaUpload that featured various performing artists at the request of Universal. MegaUpload then took Universal to court, seeking a restraining order. Universal responded late on Thursday, pointing out the DMCA doesn't give a court the power to block copyright holders from requesting takedowns. The takedown allegedly falls under a special Universal agreement with YouTube, said simply to give Universal the right to block or remove user-posted videos through YouTube's Content Management System based on "a number of contractually specified criteria." As such, the DMCA's rules don't apply in this case, Universal argued.
Even if accurate, the claim still doesn't address why Universal tried to shut down a news story that used two short clips from the song. A YouTube agreement with Universal still wouldn't give the studio the authority to restrict content used legally under fair use terms. The challenge to the TWiT show that ran the segment also appears to have been made under the DMCA, not the private deal.
Although so far based mostly on timing and speculation, it's already commonly believed that Universal asked for takedowns knowing that, even if the content was restored, it would be back up only after the initial attention had cooled down.