Lenz Go Crazy – The Dancing Baby
15 September 2015 by Thomas Utting
Back in 2007, Stephanie Lenz posted a 29 second video of her children dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” on YouTube. Universal Music Corporation, who owned the copyright for the song, promptly filed a takedown notice which lead to the video being removed by YouTube. Lenz filed a counter-notice on the grounds of fair use and the video was subsequently reposted by YouTube. Lenz took counsel from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) who in turn sued Universal for violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and thus the “dancing baby” case was born.
Lenz argued that Universal’s issuing of takedown notices was in bad faith as they were attempting to enforce a blanket policy removing all content relating to Prince, rather than considering each individual video in turn. This was after Prince released statements that he intended to “reclaim his art from the internet.” The District Court for the Northern District of California sided with Lenz and stated that copyright owners must consider fair use before issuing such takedown notices.
The case has been going back and forth ever since, however the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has today ruled that decision of District Court was correct. Universal will now have to face another trial at which it will be decided whether they misrepresented their good faith belief that the video was not authorised by law. Before this belief can be formed, the copyright owner must have considered fair use. However, this ruling of the Court of Appeals was not a complete victory for EFF as they were hoping to find Universal liable immediately without the need for a trial.
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