The entertainment world is buzzing about a viral video that shows A-list artists like Kanye West and Alicia Keyes singing the praises of file sharing service, Megaload. Universal and others have responded by yanking the video from YouTube (NSDQ: GOOG) for copyright reasons — and now Megaupload is suing to get a restraining order and a declaration that it has rights to the video.
The lawsuit makes good on Megaload’s threat yesterday that it would go to court to stop a barrage of take-down notices that have forced YouTube and others to purge the popular video.
Fans of the sharing service are enraged that Universal is pulling the plug on the video even though the footage shows its artists, including Macy Gray and will.i.am, appearing to endorse Megaload. The video has for now disappeared from various websites but the Guardian reports that it includes clips like Gray singing “M-E-G-A. Upload to me today!”
The lawsuit also names a hundred “John Does” who are people responsible for removing the video that Megaload can’t yet identify. The company might have a problem, though, because one of the John Does ordering the video taken down appears to be will.i.am himself.
As the Hollywood Reporter notes, Megaupload may have pulled a fast one by obtaining the short clips from the celebrities without informing them about the nature of the video.
It will be interesting to see what a court thinks about this one. If Megaload has indeed cleared the rights for the clips, Universal will have a hard time justifying its use of copyright to pull down the videos. The celebrities, however, could claim the video is a false endorsement although Megaload claims in its suit that it obtained a release to use their images.
The Hong Kong based service is asking for an order as well as damages based on a law that lets people sue over false copyright claims.