Kendrick Lamar, Drake

Kendrick Lamar and Drake Allegedly Let Content Creators Use Music

Typically, if a record label claims that a content creator’s video or stream contains copyrighted material, the content is removed by the host, to the disappointment of the content creator, who is sometimes left with a lost revenue stream.

A popular streamer who uses the handle @YourRageZ on X, formerly known as Twitter, asserted in a pair of tweets that the music he used in his reaction videos on Twitch to diss songs by Drake and Kendrick Lamar did not come with an automatic DMCA removal. The user credited the artists for both songs remaining up on the platform.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, has long been a thorn in the sides of many content creators as record labels have been able to broker agreements with technology companies like Meta, YouTube, and Twitch to regulate their content. A record label typically claims that a content creator’s video or stream contains copyrighted material. In that case, the host removes the content, to the disappointment of the creator, who is sometimes left with a lost revenue stream. 

Newsweek reported that this is not the case with the latest diss tracks from Kendrick Lamar and Drake. As The Verge reported in 2019, DMCA requests are typically not directly handled by individual artists but by their record labels. Newsweek contacted representatives from Drake and Lamar’s record labels but could not obtain comment before publishing its article. 

As BLACK ENTERPRISE previously reported, Drake and Kendrick Lamar have been embroiled in a war of words and escalating diss tracks, which have resulted in claims of domestic abuse, pedophilia, and other serious allegations, prompting online discussion about the nature of men and the limits of diss tracks themselves. As it relates to content creation, however, it remains to be seen if this reflects a shift in DMCA enforcement from record labels or a blip on the radar. Still, for whatever it represents on a broader scale, for content creators, it means relief. 

Jeff Becker, an entertainment lawyer at Swanson, Martin & Bell, told The Verge that one issue complicating DMCA enforcement is that generally, unless a creator has received consent from all parties involved in the production of a song, that is, an artist, the label, and any composers or writers, copyright law can be invoked by any one or all of the parties and a creator will have to alter their content to fall within the bounds of DMCA enforcement.

Highlighting the fickle nature of DMCA enforcement, other experts believe that some videos should be covered by the DMCA’s Fair Use clause, which makes exceptions for “transformative works” yet does not specify what makes a work transformative. 

In February, Universal Music Group, which owns copyrights to the music of Taylor Swift, Drake, and Olivia Rodrigo, among others, pulled its music from Tik-Tok, claiming that the move concerned low artist compensation rates, exploitative AI technology, and limited content moderation.

However, Ashleigh Wade, an assistant media studies professor, told The Cavalier Daily that the move likely had more to do with UMG’s profit margins.

“I think part of the reason is because TikTok profits more from people engaging on TikTok and creating content on TikTok using these artists’ music than Universal Music Group does with streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.”

Wade continued, “There’s probably a concern about the potential for [UMG’s] artists to be connected to harmful material because there’s no regulation of that kind of content. Now the question is, is it a genuine concern, or is it a concern over getting sued?”

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