YouTube has removed a video supporting online storage site Megaupload that features artists like Kanye West, Alicia Keys and Macy Gray at the request of Universal Music Group, who claimed that it infringed on their copyright. The only problem is, the artists in question had signed release forms, and Megaupload has filed a lawsuit against UMG as a result of their actions.
Megaupload posted the promotional video, which includes UMG artist Will.i.am saying “When I got to send files across the globe, I use Megaupload,” to YouTube on Friday, but the original posting was removed within a day following UMG’s complaint. However, as company founder Kim Dotcom explained, “Mega owns everything in this video. And we have signed agreements with every featured artist for this campaign. They are sending illegitimate takedown notices for content they don’t own… They are willfully sabotaging this viral campaign.”
While “willful sabotage” may be going a little far, there’s a history of bad blood between Megaupload and the recording industry, with the Recording Industry Association of America and U.S. Chamber of Commerce having previously referred to the company as “a rogue site” promoting piracy. The RIAA also launched legal action against another cloud storage site earlier this year.
Interestingly enough, hidden in the press release from Megaupload discussing the UMG YouTube takedown is this unexpected piece of news: “One of our websites, megabox.com, will re-launch shortly with big news that will change the music industry forever. We are signing up artists to sell their creations directly. Artists working with Megabox receive 90% of music sales, allowing them to be in control of their careers.” Megaupload puts forward the idea that this may be a motivator for UMG’s actions.
The lawsuit was filed yesterday in Northern California. Neither the RIAA nor UMG have commented publicly on the matter as yet.
Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.