2 July 2018Copyright

Music stops in ‘Dancing baby’ case

A year after the US Supreme Court refused to hear the ‘Dancing baby’ copyright dispute, the matter has been resolved amicably.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which was involved in the case, shared the news on Wednesday, June 27.

The long-running dispute centred on a video of a toddler dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” that was uploaded to video-sharing platform YouTube in 2007. The child in the video is now 12 years old, according to the EFF.

After writer Stephanie Lenz shared the video of her child online, Universal Music Publishing Group sent YouTube a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Universal owns the rights to the song “Let’s Go Crazy”, which can be heard in the background to the video. The music publishing company wanted YouTube to take the video down on the basis that it infringed its copyright.

In 2007, the EFF filed a complaint against Universal on behalf of Lenz for wrongfully targeting what she thought was lawful and fair use. The suit accused Universal of misrepresenting a DMCA claim.

The following year, the US District Court for the Northern District of California held that copyright owners must consider fair use in good faith before issuing takedown notices for content posted on the internet.

However, it declined to dismiss Lenz’s misrepresentation claim as a matter of law, and refused both parties’ motions for summary judgment.

In 2015, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling, finding that fair use is not an excuse to otherwise infringing content, but is simply not infringement in the first place.

The court added that as long as a copyright owner has a good-faith belief that it will prevail against a fair use claim, that is sufficient for it to file a request.

Lenz asked the US Supreme Court to clarify the situation in 2016, but the court denied the petition for certiorari in June 2017.

Now, more than a decade after the complaint was filed in California, Lenz and Universal have ended the litigation.

David Kokakis, Universal’s chief counsel, said the dispute has “helped us to develop a fair and tempered process for evaluation of potential takedowns”.

Lenz added that Universal’s current takedown review process is “much better”, and if it had been in place when she posted the video, she “probably wouldn’t have had to contact the EFF”.

Terms of the agreement have not been made public.

This was  first published on TBO.

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More on this story

20 June 2017   The US Supreme Court has refused to hear the ‘Dancing baby’ copyright dispute, a case centring on a video of a child dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” that was uploaded to YouTube.
17 August 2016   The US Supreme Court has been asked to consider the ‘Dancing baby’ copyright dispute, which centres on fair use regarding take-down requests for alleged copyright infringements.