Universal Music accused of using fraudulent DMCA notices as a negotiating tactic in licensing music from other labels

Skepta, a London-based hip-hop artist, uploaded a video for his original song called "Dare to Dream" to YouTube earlier this month. Jimmy Iovine, founder of the Universal-owned label Interscope, heard the song and decided that he'd like to license it for use by Eminem, who is signed to Iovine's label. So far, so good.

But then it gets weird. Iovine reportedly then filed a fraudulent copyright declaration with YouTube, claiming he owned the rights to the song and getting it taken down. Then he approached Skepta and his label to license the song for Eminem's use.

Presumably, the false DMCA declaration (apparently, he filed a non-DMCA copyright notice with YouTube) — which is illegal as hell — was used to prevent competitors from bidding against Iovine, or perhaps to prevent the song from becoming overly associated with Skepta.

Whatever the motivations, this demonstrates the pervading mentality regarding copyright takedowns in entertainment companies: they're handy tools for removing anything you don't like from the Internet for an indefinite period, and there's no penalty for perjuring yourself in your notices.

I'm not sure who has standing to pursue Iovine for his alleged fraud. I fear that the only party situated to bring him to justice are Skepta and his label (who are unlikely to pursue a claim against their new business partner). But I hope that YouTube can — and does — take action to produce an object lesson that abusing the law to censor the Internet isn't a consequence-free tactic in the normal course of business, but a crime that undermines copyright law itself.

YouTube DMCA Takedown Grabs Track For Eminem