Prince and the Dancing Baby   

Copyright protection. Infant Video.

Copyright protection. Infant Video.

If you are a regular visitor to YouTube, you can’t help but notice the hundreds of videos posted by YouTube account holders, videos that are often accompanied by music. Posting a video of a cute kitten playing with a dog with a little background music from a popular band may seem harmless – but is it?

Back in 2007 California resident Stephanie Lenz posted a video on YouTube that featured her thirteen- month-old son bouncing around to the Prince hit “Let’s Go Crazy.” The video eventually caught the attention of the song’s publisher, Universal Music. The company filed a “takedown notice” to have the video removed on grounds of copyright infringement. YouTube removed the video.

In spite of the “takedown notice” from Universal Music, Ms. Lenz decided to fight back to get her video put back up on YouTube. She attained legal counsel and filed suit against Universal claiming that she had the right to use the music under the “fair use” doctrine. Lenz contends that Universal failed to take into account “fair use” before issuing the takedown notice. She claims that their actions infringed on her first amendment rights and that she lost time and money (legal fees) fighting the takedown notice.

Universal is disputing her claims.

On January 24, 2013, United States District Judge Jeremy Fogel denied both sides request for Summary Judgment. The Lenz vs. Universal  that Ms. Lenz is not entitled to Summary Judgment based on her claim that Universal willingly ignored the possibility that her video is protected by fair use. The court also ruled that Universal is not entitled to Summary Judgment because they have not shown that they did not subjectively ignore the possibility of fair use regarding Prince’s song.

The case moves slowly forward – so stay tuned.

As you see, copyright law isn’t always so cut-and-dried. So, whether you are creating a video or you have copyrighted material that you want to protect it is always a good idea to be informed of your rights and obligations under the law by consulting with an attorney.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours.

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