Drake Documentary Producers Accuse UMG of Trying to Suppress Film in New Lawsuit

Complaint accuses company of misusing copyright law in an effort to censor free speech

Last Updated: February 15, 2019 @ 5:26 PM

The producers of a documentary about music star Drake have filed a lawsuit against UMG Recordings, accusing UMG of “unlawful efforts to censor free speech through the intentional misuse of copyright law” and attempting to suppress the documentary.

In the lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in California, production company Symettrica Entertainment says that its documentary, “Drake: Rewriting the Rules,” has been targeted by UMG via takedown notices sent to Netflix, iTunes and Amazon Prime Video, “unlawfully demanding that those platforms cease exhibiting the Documentary.”

“Coerced by Universal’s baseless blanket threats of liability, Netflix, iTunes and Amazon Prime Video have in fact removed the Documentary from their platforms as a matter of course,” the suit reads.

According to the suit, the takedown notices were sent “under the guise of alleged copyright infringement because the Documentary uses short clips of Drake’s music and videos.”

However, the suit contends, the brief excerpts of Drake’s music and videos were used “to illustrate points and commentary in the Documentary” and their use “clearly falls within the parameters of the fair use laws and constituted fair use.”

The real reason for the takedown notices, the suit contends, was “to silence and suppress viewpoints and speech in the Documentary with which Universal and/or Drake apparently disagree.”

“Universal’s censorious misuse of copyright law to subvert free speech has effectively removed the Documentary from meaningful public exhibition, causing substantial harm and damage to Plaintiff while further interfering with Plaintiff’s contractual rights and obligations,” the suit continues.

The suit goes on to accuse Universal of failing to undertake the “requisite good faith analysis of fair use before reflexively issuing bad-faith takedown notices strategically designed to suppress disfavored speech.”

According to the suit, the takedown notices were served last month, the day after the documentary was released on Netflix, iTunes and Amazon Prime Video.

TheWrap has reached out to a UMG spokesperson for comment on the suit.

Alleging misrepresentation and intentional interference with contractual relations, the suit is seeking a judicial declaration that the use of the excerpts constitutes fair use, as well as unspecified damages.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

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