Universal: Artists didn’t consent to Megaupload video

The brouhaha around Megaupload’s viral music video continues this week, with Universal Music (UMG) now claiming that several of its artists didn’t consent to being used in the video. Megaupload is disputing these claims in a lawsuit it filed in federal court today.

A Universal spokesperson sent us the following statement via email:

“This is an on-going dispute that surfaced several weeks ago with respect to the unauthorized use of a performance from one of our artists. We heard from a number of our other artists (and their representatives) who told us they’ve never consented to being portrayed in this video. As a result, at least one of them has already sent a takedown notice for this unauthorized use.”

The controversial Hong Kong-based file hoster released a music video featuring endorsements of numerous well-known pop stars and celebrities late last week. The video, which included appearances by Kanye West, Ciara, will.i.am, Kim Kardashian and Serena Wiliams, was taken down from YouTube (s GOOG) just hours after it became popular on the site. Megaupload then filed a counter-notice, to which YouTube responded by reinstating the video. This move was quickly followed by another take-down notice, resulting in the video disappearing again.

Megaupload proceeded to file a lawsuit (PDF) against Universal in a US District Court today, seeking an injunction against the record label as well as damages. In the lawsuit, it states that all of the artists involved in the production of and shown in the video “executed full releases of any intellectual property rights to the promotional video, including use of likeness and promotional rights.” The lawsuit also alleges that this is merely an attempt to control what artists can and can’t endorse: “It appears as though UMG permits recording artists to exercise their views and free speech only when UMG agrees with such speech,” it states.