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?”