There has been a major ruling in the so-called “dancing baby lawsuit,” and a federal appeals court in California recently declared that copyright holders must consider whether the use of material is fair before sending a takedown notice, the Los Angeles Times reports. The dancing baby lawsuit stems from a 2007 YouTube video that shows a baby dancing to the Prince song “Let’s Go Crazy.”
According to Universal Music, the video infringed on the song’s copyright, and the company sent a notice to YouTube demanding the video be taken down. The viral video was taken down a short while after the complaint was filed. However, a court saw the situation differently, and the video was re-posted weeks later.
As reported by Gizmodo, although the court has now ruled that uploading the video was OK, the verdict could have far-reaching consequences. Stephanie Lenz, the mother of the dancing baby in the video, was represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and the group sued Universal on Lenz’s behalf, arguing that Universal abused the DMCA by improperly targeting a lawful fair use.
Following the ruling, EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry issued the following statement.
“The decision made by the appeals court today has ramifications far beyond Ms. Lenz’s rights to share her video with family and friends. We will all watch a lot of online video and analysis of presidential candidates in the months to come, and this ruling will help make sure that information remains uncensored.”
The 29-second video that Lenz filmed eight years ago went viral and has accumulated over one million views. In the video, Lenz’s son can be seen frolicking in the kitchen while a stereo system is playing in the background. Then the mother asks her son, “What do you think of the music?” And the little one begins to dance.https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=2&v=N1KfJHFWlhQ
Gizmodo wrote that shortly after Lenz posted the video, she was surprised to learn that Universal Music Group cried copyright infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and Universal sent YouTube a takedown motion. YouTube, which belongs to search engine giant Google, informed her that they had to remove the video from the network.
The mother saw things differently and, supported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation — an American non-governmental organization that promotes civil liberties on the Internet — took the issue to court. It was the beginning of an eight-year-long litigation process, which has now come to an end.
“Today’s ruling sends a strong message that copyright law does not authorize thoughtless censorship of lawful speech,” McSherry said. “We’re pleased that the court recognized that ignoring fair use rights makes content holders liable for damages.”
[Image via YouTube]