In a bizarre twist, file sharing service Megaupload files suit against record label Universal, claiming censorship. Megaupload recently put together a music video promoting their service, featuring a number of prominent music artists including Kayne West, P Diddy, Snoop Dog, Chris Brown, Macy Gray, The Game, and Mary J Blige. As word spread and the YouTube video’s link was distributed, Universal Music Group got wind of it and filed a DMCA takedown request to remove the video. Megaupload responded late Friday evening with a reinstatement demand as CEO David Robb claimed, “Nothing in our song or the video belongs to Universal Music Group. We have signed agreements with all artists endorsing Megaupload.”
Over the weekend, Universal countered and demanded the video be pulled again, causing Megaupload to instruct their legal team to file suit. Megaupload’s Robb points out that his company plans to launch Megabox, a new digital music service similar to iTunes, where artists receive a full 90 percent of the proceeds from sales. This suggests the record labels want to sabotage his marketing efforts to reduce their competition. Megaupload now takes a strong position against new copyright legislation (SOPA and PIPA) under construction in Washington, believing the record labels want the ability to delete entire websites rather than simply having a legal mechanism to delete specific content.
However, if all of this pans out in the end, it appears to be a good move for Megaupload. Commercial file-sharing services of their type haven’t generally made an effort to market themselves as having legal uses. In their video, RIAA artist Will.i.am proclaims, “When I got to send files across the globe, I use Megaupload.” and Kayne West (signed to Universal owned DefJam) says, “It’s the fastest and safest way to send files – period.” Megaupload’s elusive and likely fictionally-named founder, Kim Dotcom, claims they have over 180 million active users, with 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies having premium accounts and hundreds of premium accounts belonging to employees of companies the RIAA and MPAA represent.
It may prove difficult for the recording industry to make this service disappear.