Megaupload to Universal: You’ve Got Some Explaining To Do

In their 18-page response filing at the US District Court for Northern Californian earlier this month, not once did Universal Music say why they forced YouTube to remove Megaupload’s Mega Song. Since that's what the dispute between the two companies is all about, that was a pretty strange event. In a new filing, Megaupload makes it clear that it isn't going to be brushed aside. The cyberlocker wants answers, and it will dig deep to get them.

Early December, Megaupload’s ‘Mega Song’ was on its way to becoming a viral hit, only to be cut down from YouTube by a Universal Music takedown demand. In response, Megaupload filed a lawsuit against Universal and YouTube reinstated the video.

The basis for the takedown has never been clear. While YouTube clearly indicated that UMG had taken the Mega Song down on copyright grounds, Universal later added that it had a deal with YouTube to take down content even if it doesn’t infringe their rights. This, the company says, allows it to sidestep any claims Megaupload makes against it under the DMCA.

Notably, though, Universal has never said exactly why it had the video taken down. Soon, however, it may have to.

In a new Megaupload court filing made available to TorrentFreak today, the file-hosting service makes it clear that it will go to considerable lengths to find out exactly what has been going on at Universal, YouTube, Vimeo and other entities involved in the Mega Song takedown.

“In its opposition to the [Temporary Restraining Order], UMG did not even attempt to defend the legitimacy of its false claims to ownership of the Megaupload Video,” states the Megaupload filing. The cyberlocker adds that UMG made several assertions which now require clarification for the case to proceed correctly.

The first UMG claim is that Megaupload sued the wrong UMG ‘entity’. They say that UMG Recordings is the correct entity since they are the ones dealing with YouTube and other video hosting services.

Second, Megaupload wants to get to the bottom of UMG’s claim that the takedown request it filed with YouTube was not made under the DMCA, but as part of a private historical agreement the label has with YouTube.

The third UMG claim is that they had nothing to do with takedowns of the Mega Song carried out at other video hosting sites such as Vimeo.

Bemoaning the fact that none of UMG’s claims have been backed up by evidence or witnesses, Megaupload says it now needs facts to move forward.

“Megaupload therefore respectfully requests that the Court grant it leave to take limited but essential written discovery…regarding the UMG Entities’ private dealings with service providers regarding the takedowns of the Megaupload Video and the identity and authority of the persons or entities who requested the takedowns,” the company writes.

“Without such information, Megaupload will be unable to determine which UMG entity instructed YouTube to remove the Megaupload Video; which other, non-UMG persons may have so instructed YouTube; and on whose behalf, on what grounds, and under what authority the removal was sought.

“In addition, as UMG has denied sending notices itself to other service providers, subpoenas to any such providers who took down the video is the appropriate means to determine the party doing so,” the filing adds.

There can be little doubt that keeping the Megaupload name in the news is something that Universal should have anticipated when they took the Mega Song down. Right now, if the aim was to shut Megaupload up and dampen their campaign, they have failed. At the time of writing the standard and HD versions of the song have close to 13.7 million combined views on YouTube.

But perhaps even worse, Universal appear to have enabled an arch enemy to take the moral high-ground in their ‘rogue site’ propaganda war and that’s why this discovery process will be so interesting.

Do Universal have an ace up their sleeve, or was the Mega Song takedown simply a terribly ill-conceived, knee-jerk, and solely destructive action? We’ll all find out soon enough.

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