YouTube has reposted the official video of the Latin song “Un Ratito” by DJ Alok with Luis Fonsi and Lunay after a judge in Brazil ordered it restored despite a claim of copyright infringement by Brazilian-American producer Sevenn.
The video platform confirmed to Billboard that it reinstated the song’s lyric video on Alok’s YouTube channel last Friday “in compliance with a court decision rendered in a sealed process.”
After the song was released on Jan. 14, Kevin Brauer, who performs as Sevenn, requested on Jan. 24 that streaming platforms, including YouTube, take it down. Brauer says Alok denied him authorship as its original producer. He is listed as one of 14 writers on the song — which also features Lenny Tavárez and Brazilian singer-actress Juliette — but not as a producer. YouTube, citing its Terms of Service and Community Guidelines, pulled the song down.
After Alok argued YouTube had removed the song in an “arbitrary and unilateral manner,” a civil court judge in Goiânia, Brazil, ordered Google Brasil on Jan. 27 to repost the video, citing potential irreparable economic damage if it remained off the platform. Further legal wrangling ensued, but the judge ultimately denied Google’s appeal to keep the video off the site. Brauer can still appeal the decision to the higher Court of Justice.
The legal dispute over the song —which had 7.1 million streams on Spotify as of Tuesday and more than 2 million views on YouTube (despite being off the platform for 17 days) — is part of a broader copyright ownership dispute between Sevenn and Alok over at least 14 songs Brauer and his older brother Sean Brauer say they worked on for Alok from 2016 to 2019. The brothers, who were raised in Rio de Janeiro in the strict religious sect Children of God, say Alok denied them credit and publishing splits for the songs and did not compensate them for the work.
Alok, who has declined to discuss the issue with Billboard, has since released Instagram Stories videos denying many of Sevenn’s claims of authorship of the songs. The Brazilian DJ, who is the most popular EDM artist in South America in terms of streams, social media followers and touring fees, has framed the dispute as an orchestrated attempt by his former manager Marcos “Marquinhos” Araújo (now manager of Sevenn) to damage his reputation, a charge Araújo has denied.
Google insisted that restoration of the video depended on a court decision defining the attribution of copyright. The tech giant’s policies require a third party filing a notice of copyright infringement to present a legal claim of ownership in court within 10 days. Brauer filed such a claim on Jan. 25 in a São Paulo civil court, where he argued the song was entirely created by him, “from the lyrics to the musical arrangement, melody and vocal interpretation,” YouTube said in a Jan. 28 court filing.
The tech giant also noted in the same court filing that Alok had previously used YouTube’s “contractual instruments” to his advantage. More than 30 copyright-violation notices have been filed on his behalf since 2016, resulting in the removal of videos filed by third parties. “It is curious, then, that [Alok] tries here to evade the platform’s policies while still benefiting from them,” a Google lawyer wrote.
Robson Cunha, a lawyer for Alok, noted in a court filing on Feb. 2 that Alok had released the song as a “derivative” work and that Brauer had been awarded an 11.25% publishing split of “Un Ratito” – equivalent to Alok’s share and only exceeded by the 11.5% shares given to co-songwriters Edgar Barrera and Oscar Hernandez.
Brauer also requested that other platforms — including Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal and Deezer — take the song down, but none have done so.
Despite the video being restored to YouTube, the legal battles over ownership and credit for “Un Ratito” – and other songs Brauer and his older brother Sean worked on for Alok — are only beginning.
Brauer told Billboard that he started working on “Un Ratito” in 2017. He sang and played guitar on an early demo titled “Let’s make love (nanananana).” On Instagram Stories, Alok has countered that the song changed considerably after Brauer worked on it, saying he replaced music parts performed by Brauer with other musicians. (Brauer denies the claim, saying the guitar on the released track is still his performance.).
The Brauers say they plan to file a case soon in Brazil that will claim that Alok denied them authorship and royalties for several songs.