Victory: UMG & YouTube retreat

posted at 9:33 am on May 14, 2007 by Michelle

The Hot Air video report on Akon that Universal Music Group didn’t want you to see is now back up on YouTube. That’s right. The music giant and the video-sharing site (who happen to be “strategic partners“) have backed down:

We originally posted the Hot Air report to YouTube on May 2. On May 3, after we publicized the video on nationally syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham’s program, YouTube yanked the video and replaced it with the following notice:

ytnotice.jpg

UMG claimed our video podcast infringed its copyrights and had submitted a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), pressuring YouTube to pull the episode down. We concluded that this was a clear attempt to suppress the report by abusing the DMCA.

On May 8, with pro bono legal support from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, we filed a counter-notice with YouTube.

On May 10, we received the following message:

From: Copyright Service copyright@support.youtube.com
Date: May 10, 2007 2:26 PM
Subject: Re: #144942627 DMCA Counter Notification
To: Michelle Malkin

Dear Michelle,

In response to your DMCA counter-notification, Universal Music Group has retracted its copyright claim with respect to the following videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZL1IHw6ea8

This content has been restored and your account will not be penalized.

Sincerely,

Jacob
The YouTube Team

Translation: “Neeever mind.” UMG’s Emily Litella moment is as clear a concession as any that our report was, in fact, fair use–and that UMG’s use of the DMCA to try and stifle it was, in fact, abuse.

But the shenanigans didn’t end there. After receiving the notification from YouTube that the video would be restored, we discovered a new message in place of the video. YouTube claimed that our Akon report now violated its “terms of use.” (Where have we heard that before?) EFF’s senior staff attorney, Kurt Opsahl, pressed YouTube for an explanation. On Friday, after Opsahl took the matter to one of Google/YouTube’s in-house counsels, YouTube reinstated the video–over-ruling the prior terms of use decision.

Here’s the EFF press release this morning:

Universal Music Group Backs Off Claims to Michelle Malkin Video

Online Criticism of Hip Hop Artist Akon Drew Baseless Copyright Allegations from UMG

San Francisco – Universal Music Group (UMG) has backed off of its attempt to silence nationally syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin’s online criticism of one of its controversial artists after Malkin fought back with the help of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Earlier this month, UMG filed a baseless copyright notice regarding a recent episode of “Vent with Michelle Malkin” — an irreverent daily video podcast produced by Malkin’s conservative Internet broadcast network “Hot Air.” In the video posted on YouTube, Malkin called Universal hip hop artist Akon a “misogynist,” supporting her criticism with excerpts from Akon’s music videos as well as onstage video footage showing Akon with a teenage girl at a nightclub in Trinidad.

Despite Malkin’s legally protected fair use of the Akon footage to support her criticism, UMG claimed that the podcast infringed its copyright. UMG submitted a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), forcing YouTube to pull the episode down. However, with EFF’s assistance, Malkin filed a counter-notice with YouTube, informing the company that she was legally entitled to distribute her video. As a result, the video is back up on the site, one that has become an important forum for political speech of all kinds.

“We’re pleased that UMG has backed off its bogus copyright claim and stopped squelching Michelle Malkin’s video criticism,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. “However, it remains inexcusable. UMG’s misuse of federal law made the video unavailable on YouTube for a full week, denying the Hot Air podcast access to YouTube’s extensive audience during a time when the controversy about Akon’s behavior was all over the news.”

After UMG rescinded its takedown request, YouTube briefly continued to block access to the video podcast, claiming it included a “terms of use” violation. However, after EFF contacted YouTube to discuss the alleged violation, the video was quickly returned to public view.

“My Hot Air staff and I are grateful for EFF’s invaluable aid in forcing UMG to retreat,” said Malkin. “Shame on any copyright holder who would attempt to use the DMCA to intimidate and silence critics. We hope YouTube and its corporate partners, like UMG, will think twice next time before yanking video commentary and criticism that clearly falls under fair use.”

If you are a podcaster or video content provider, and you think your work has been squelched by a DMCA-abusing entity, don’t take it lying down. Get informed and take action.

(Cross-posted at MM.com)

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2 thumbs up!

Ropera on May 14, 2007 at 9:46 AM

Congratulations.

In the future, I believe the way to fight bias against conservatives on “open” sites like YouTube is to continuously upload the copies by hundreds of users.

Case in point is the Digg revolt over the HD-DVD encryption code.

Valiant on May 14, 2007 at 9:53 AM

Smacked that

HAHA. Awesome Michelle.

Theworldisnotenough on May 14, 2007 at 9:55 AM

I thought we decried the tactics of the Diggbots.

I don’t mind ‘fighting dirty’ if that’s what we have to do, but then we have to make a conscious decision to not criticize them anymore for artificially inflating their numbers to make their agenda look more acceptable than it is.

Furthermore, we must accept that the left has more morons with enough time on their hands for ‘important action alerts’ than we do, and we’d likely lose the pig-wrestling match.

James on May 14, 2007 at 10:12 AM

Awesome Michelle!!!

I also hope this is a sign of better YouTube treatment to follow, on other topics as well (but one thing at a time I suppose).

Next, I’d like like to see some actual coverage of the Akon’ assault on ‘the news’. How long’s THAT gonna take?

RD on May 14, 2007 at 10:15 AM

James on May 14, 2007 at 10:12 AM

The cases you refer to are not raw censorship.

Once material is censored, no one has access to it.

I agree we don’t have the numbers to inflate the importance our cause, but we do have the numbers to keep at least one copy out there.

Valiant on May 14, 2007 at 10:19 AM

I agree…but censorship is best dealt with in the legal arena. Doesn’t a legal smackdown send a better message than a service saying ‘OK, I give up, give baby his bottle?’

James on May 14, 2007 at 10:21 AM

Whew, now that this issue is behind them, EFF can get back to the very important work of crippling our national security by suing Verizon to stop them from working with the NSA to track down terrorists!

Too bad there are no other groups out there that could help HotAir and Michelle with this problem. I hope it didn’t distract EFF too much from their real work of taking down the government.

BelchSpeak on May 14, 2007 at 10:28 AM

Excellent—Congrats. More encouragement…More encouragement

mjkazee on May 14, 2007 at 10:48 AM

You’re the FIRECRACKER BOMB Michelle! Guess the only draw back is UMG won’t be signing the Ventilators any time soon!

Drtuddle on May 14, 2007 at 11:00 AM

Very Nice. Very interesting as well. YouTube secretly trying to fight for Acorn there.

flipflopper on May 14, 2007 at 11:51 AM

Way to hang tough!!

Stevel on May 14, 2007 at 12:09 PM

Awesome.

sarahk on May 14, 2007 at 12:12 PM

Boo-Yah !!!!

Michelle, you are a TRUE HERO of 1st amendment rights.

Love Hot Air.

omnipotent on May 14, 2007 at 12:12 PM

The DMCA needs reform. We need our fair use rights restored. Not everyone who is abused under the current law can raise enough of a public stink to get multi-billion dollar corporations to back down.

TheBigOldDog on May 14, 2007 at 1:05 PM

Yay Michelle! Who will star in his “movie”? A toilet?

bloggless on May 14, 2007 at 1:18 PM

That was a pretty quick resolution. The victory is a proud moment, the day belongs to Michelle. Good triumphs over evil once again…

Zorro on May 14, 2007 at 1:32 PM

This is a good thing. Yet, the crybaby whiner types at YouTube aren’t going to forget this.

One thing about libs — they never learn their lesson. They either grow up and become conservatives or they just come back with more stupid.

mesablue on May 14, 2007 at 1:35 PM

I have less of a problem with the EFF than others here. There is no question that they have a biased agenda, and I could wish that they more often chose to champion conservative victims; however, their function is, on balance, a noble one.

It is important to fight for individual and group rights when they are restricted. EFF is only anti-government to the extent that government intrudes improperly upon personal or corporate freedoms, and that is not a bad thing. And I believe that their decision to assist Michelle in this case, PRO BONO, indicates that their chief aim is freedom and fairness.

I disagree with EFF’s selection of cases to participate in, probably more than half of the time. I also think that defense attorneys are trying to set a criminal free more than half of the time. That doesn’t make what either is doing wrong.

Congrats on the You-Tube beatdown, Michelle.

Freelancer on May 14, 2007 at 1:40 PM

VICTORY!!! /johnnydrama

WisCon on May 14, 2007 at 1:53 PM

Dear Mrs. Malkin,
I am curious as to whether you are actually on a first name basis with this Jacob, or if he is just being discourteous (or ignorant of courtesy) in addressing you by your first name. I was reared to address others by their first names only when they gave me permission to do so, or when we were friends or relatives. And sometimes even then titles were used in some situations. It seems to me to show a lack of respect as well as discourtesy.

Franklin Hill on May 14, 2007 at 2:28 PM

…”Vent with Michelle Malkin” — an irreverent daily video podcast produced by Malkin’s conservative Internet broadcast network “Hot Air.”…

You’re a big dog now, girl!

locomotivebreath1901 on May 14, 2007 at 2:59 PM

I’m guessing the claim that HotAir violated copyright could have unfortunate implications for their own attempts to resist lawsuits filed by large multi-media conglomerates essentially accusing them of the same thing.

It shows they’re sensitive to infringement in some cases. I wouldn’t be surprised if you guys end up as a footnote in a future brief by Time Warner.

John on May 14, 2007 at 3:38 PM

I love it when the left gets caught in the morning eating a big bowl of stupid.

Coronagold on May 14, 2007 at 4:24 PM

This is an unassisted triple play, since 1) they backed down, 2) the video is back up, and 3) you now have a well documented case proving that these people WILL abuse the law to support their own dubious political agenda. In any future contest, they will no longer possess ANY credibility (in the eyes of the courts/legal system).

CyberCipher on May 14, 2007 at 4:43 PM

My guess is that they figured all the hoopla was over, what with Verizon backing down and Akon apologizing. I think they’re wrong, which is a good thing all around.

Bob's Kid on May 14, 2007 at 7:36 PM

Congratulations Michelle.
Once again, I must remember to give thanks to God that you are on our side.

LegendHasIt on May 14, 2007 at 8:32 PM

Did you make necklace from the teeth you knocked out of their mouths?

TwinkietheKid on May 14, 2007 at 10:04 PM

Yeah! Michelles vigilance and tenaciousness pays off once again. Yes I think they will “think twice” Michelle. Good job.

sonnyspats1 on May 14, 2007 at 10:09 PM

I get it. The only way you can get situations like this resolved is with laywer$.

Egfrow on May 14, 2007 at 11:16 PM

Good going Michelle!

Highrise on May 14, 2007 at 11:41 PM

James,

I agree…but censorship is best dealt with in the legal arena. Doesn’t a legal smackdown send a better message than a service saying ‘OK, I give up, give baby his bottle?’

Not really. It is incumbent on an aggrieved party to make a claim prior to filing a complaint in court. In this case, UMG knew they’d lose, so they caved. This is a legal smackdown, with a bad actor that knew they would get a beating in court.

Props to Michelle and EFF.

Pablo on May 15, 2007 at 8:27 AM

Good going Michelle.

Chuck on May 15, 2007 at 9:00 AM

Not really. It is incumbent on an aggrieved party to make a claim prior to filing a complaint in court. In this case, UMG knew they’d lose, so they caved. This is a legal smackdown, with a bad actor that knew they would get a beating in court.

Props to Michelle and EFF.

Pablo on May 15, 2007 at 8:27 AM

Right…you’re arguing my point. I said this is better than resorting to Diggbot tactics of shoving content in their faces over and over and over to get them to give up that way.

James on May 15, 2007 at 10:07 AM

Your Awesome Michelle !! Thank you for giving these lefties a good smack !

Maxx on May 15, 2007 at 11:25 AM

Nice! The DMCA is a horrid act that is frequently abused… it’s nice to see the underdog emerge victorious. This also nicely demonstrates that the EFF isn’t a “lefty” group. They are an electronic civil rights advocate. Free use is a right. Michelle’s rights were squashed under the guise of the DMCA, and they went to her rescue. I’ll be donating to them again this year.

Mark Jaquith on May 17, 2007 at 11:55 AM