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After UMG rescinded its takedown request, YouTube briefly continued to block access to the video podcast, claiming it included a "terms of use" violation.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."

Reposted episode of "Vent with Michelle Malkin":

More on the controversy from Michelle Malkin:

More on intellectual property and free speech:

Information about Hot Air:


Kurt Opsahl
Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Michelle Malkin
Hot Air Network

About EFF:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil liberties organization working to protect rights in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges industry and government to support free expression and privacy online. EFF is a member-supported organization and maintains one of the most linked-to websites in the world at

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