Henry Adaso Wrote a Negative Drake Review. So Universal Used the DMCA to Rip It Down

The sad part is that this isn’t the first time Universal Music Group has abused the DMCA to bully or remove something completely legal.

In this latest episode, a marginally-negative review of a Drake album was wiped clean by Google, based on a takedown demand issued on behalf of UMG by label trade group BPI.  The author, Henry Adaso, penned this for About.com back in November.

“A briefly entertaining, occasionally ponderous, sometimes lazy, sometimes brilliant, slow-rolling, rap-singy, bulls-eye missing, kitten-friendly, runway-ready, mega corny, lip-smacking, self-conscious, self-correcting, self-indulging, finely tuned, Houston infatuated, crowd pleasing, delightfully weird, emotionally raw, limp, wet, innocuous, cute, plush, brooding, musical, whimsical, exotic, pensive, V-necked, quasi-American, strutting, doting, cloying, safe alternative to sleeping pills. (Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Stars)

This clearly isn’t ripping the album to shreds, but then again, so what if it was?  Either way, Adaso produced the actual takedown demand to show this wasn’t an accident.  “Looking at the DMCA complaint closely, I noticed that the infringing links are primarily file sharing portals, torrents, etcetera,” Adaso explained.  “Makes sense to flag those links. So, there’s 19 file sharing links and three seemingly random review links. Two of those review links point to my Drake piece.”

But wait, the plot thickens.  Because Adaso also noticed a takedown for an article on AV Club, which actually had a pretty positive review.  “Anyway, I kept digging,” Adaso said.  “Finally, I found the connection between my page and the AV Club link. The comment sections of both sites contain links to Big Ghost’s Take Care Review.  Big Ghost, in his colorful and comedic fashion, destroyed Take Care…”

So what if it was all a mistake?  Techdirt’s Mike Masnick opened the possibility of something ‘incredibly incompetent,’ which introduces a separate raft of issues.  Perhaps Adaso himself illustrated the issue, two years before the incident took place.

“But how else will this new copyright law be used in the future? Is it a stretch to suggest that major labels could easily take down unfavorable sites under the pretext of copyright infringement? Are we heading down a slippery slope that will eventually lead to invasive Web censorship?”

22 Responses

  1. Double a

    If mike masnick said it, it’s about as valid as a rush limbaugh statement.

    Drakes album was great and is a classic ahead of its time. Adaso should have opened his ears and this would have never happened. Good taste is rewarded by no takedown notices.

  2. wallow-T

    This is the system functioning as designed.

    Any content which the entertainment industry wants to remove is gone, quickly and cheaply.

    Accuracy is not cost effective.

    Due process is not cost effective.

    You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs. You can’t engage in a broad yet cheap defense of copyright on the Internet without stomping on innocents. The end justifies the means.

    • James Madison

      I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.

    • Dailystooge.com

      You Sir are a complete and total fool. Once this starts happening as common place our voice (ie the common person) will be deleted as unfavourable. Do you not understand that this is the first step towards 1984 (and I am betting your too stupid to get that reference). Here is the old saying I always releate to:

      “When they came for my friend I said nothing, when they came for my family I said nothing. When they came for me there was no one left to say anything …..”

      http://www.dailystooge.com FIGHT THE POWER and WELCOME TO THE STOOGE REVOLUTION

    • ct

      1. That is the worst fucking review I’ve ever read. And by review I mean ‘string of meaningless adjectives’. “Wet”? What?

      2. A 2.5/5 review is not negative. It’s perfectly average.

      3. The article gives the impression that Universal took the down the Adaso review because of its content, though it is revealed at the end that the content of the review was meaningless, it was the commenters linking to some other review that they were trying to eliminate. Might be difficult to condense that into a headline, but it doesn’t mean you should be spreading false information.

  3. @AlanHST

    Well this isn’t good…meh fuck it. If a music group wants to take down a post of mine, I’ll fight it tooth and nail.

    • wallow-T

      Note that the post itself was not taken down: the takedown request was directed at Google. So, unless you are regularly in the habit of checking how your posts show up in Google searches, you won’t even know that Google has de-listed you, and no one but your personal friends and your mom will see your post.

  4. Lucas Gonze

    It’s not impossible that this was a mistake. Takedown requests are generated at high volume and each one gets minimal care.

    Either way, the real cause is that there’s no meaningful penalty for bogus takedown requests.

    This is the reform needed: penalties for bad takedown requests.

    • Visitor

      I agree.

      The logistics of establishing record of incorrect and/or wrongful use of takedown notice would be more difficult but it could be done.

  5. Visitor

    An artist should have the right to control what others say about his music. Giving an stuggling artist a bad review on a high profile site is equivlent to pirating his music 1000 times..

    • Michael

      So people shoule be able to supress others opinions even when they don’t break any laws expressing it..? You are in the wrong contry…

      Perhaps you are joking… certainly hope so.

  6. lifer

    Please read: The Scorpion and the Frog. The major label industrial complex will adapt its ethically-challenged biz practices to the new realities because they cannot help themselves anymore than a scorpion can.

    Written while listening to Death and Vanilla on vinyl LP