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Dancing Baby Takes Universal To Court

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If some copyright holders had their way, you couldn’t listen to a CD in your car with the windows down. Somebody might hear it without paying for it. The latest Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) lawsuit against Universal Music hopes to prevent similar abuses on the Internet.

Stephanie Lenz posted a 30-second clip of her infant son dancing to Prince’s "Let’s Go Crazy" on YouTube, with the intent of sharing the video with family and friends.

 If you’ve been following the copyright battles YouTube is embroiled in, then you can probably guess what happened next.

Universal, who owns the rights to the song, might have thought he was a cute kid, but he didn’t pay for the rights to dance to their intellectual property on video.

The company sent YouTube a standard-issue Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice and YouTube, an entity not in a position to question given its current legal troubles, removed the video, as is policy.  

"I was really surprised and angry when I learned my video was removed," said Lenz in a statement. "Universal should not be using legal threats to try to prevent people from sharing home videos of their kids with family and friends."

But the EFF has her back and has filed suit against Universal, alleging abuse of the DMCA, and is asking for damages and injunctive relief restraining the company from bring further copyright claims against Lenz.

"Universal’s takedown notice doesn’t even pass the laugh test," said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. "Copyright holders should be held accountable when they undermine non-infringing, fair uses like this video."

It’s worked so far. YouTube has since reposted the video. (Warning: The video may give you cavities.)

"Copyright abuse can shut down online artists, political analysts, or — as in this case — ordinary families who simply want to share snippets of their day-to-day lives," said EFF Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "Universal must stop making groundless infringement claims that trample on fair use and free speech."

The full text of the claim can be found on the EFF website.

Dancing Baby Takes Universal To Court


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  • videobruce

    I am using a screen name so they don’t take down my home videos from YouTube next!

    Clearly this is not even a matter of needle drops or synch rights, anyone seeing the video will be guided by common sense that it is fair use. It’s a family video of babies at play and the Prince tune just happens to be picked up in the background – it is not even “mixed” in to the audio track, just ambient sound air-transferred by the in-camera microphone.

    Universal deserves to have it’s a** kicked big time for this kind of harassment. Perhaps their bad faith mis-interpretation of the ACT is retaliation against Prince himself for his recent innovative CD distribution deal via newspaper inserts – circumventing and adding another nail to the coffin of the dying big label music biz and no doubt pissing off Universal big time.

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