Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Is it illegal for a toddler to dance to a copyrighted song?

Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Rebecca Jeschke
Media Coordinator
Electronic Frontier Foundation
+1 415 436-9333 x125

Friday Court Hearing in YouTube Video Battle

Home Movie of Toddler Dancing to Prince Sparks Bogus Copyright Claim

San Jose - On Friday, July 18, at 9 a.m., the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will urge a federal judge in San Jose to protect the free speech and fair use rights of mother who posted a home movie of her son dancing to Prince on YouTube.

EFF represents Stephanie Lenz, who uploaded a 29-second clip of her son dancing in the family kitchen to the Prince song, "Let's Go Crazy," which is playing on a stereo in the background. Remarkably, Universal Music Publishing Group claimed that the video infringed its copyrights, and had the video yanked from YouTube. Lenz's lawsuit against Universal seeks to hold the company accountable for misrepresenting that her fair use violated its copyrights.

In Friday's hearing, EFF will ask U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel to reject Universal's motion to dismiss the case, and allow Lenz's lawsuit to continue.

Lenz v. Universal

Friday, July 18
9 a.m.

U.S. District Court, Northern District of California Courtroom 3, 5th Floor 280 South 1st Street San Jose, CA 95113

For this release:

About EFF

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil liberties organization working to protect rights in the digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges industry and government to support free expression and privacy online. EFF is a member-supported organization and maintains one of the most linked-to websites in the world at http://www.eff.org/

Commentary & discussion:

boing boing

Keywords: digital copyright law online internet law legal download upload peer to peer p2p file sharing filesharing music movies indie independent label freeculture creative commons pop/rock artists riaa independent mp3 cd favorite songs intellectual property


Anonymous said...

And the recording industry wonders why people despise them to much. It's because, among other things, that they act in this caviler manner, as though they own every moment and form of musical expression. I'm sure that if they could manage it, they would require you to pay a hefty fee and get a license from them before you could even own a musical instrument. A million dollar fine on Universal for their actions in this case would not be too much.

{The Common Man Speaking}

Scott said...

Memo to the music cartel:

Do you really think that this kind of thugishness helps you?

Consider a recent poll which revealed that only 9% of Americans approve of Congress' performance. The political climate in the country is more volatile than it was in the 1960s during the Vietnam War. This is not the best time to be picking high-profile fights with everyday citizens. In fact, it's stupid.

If you think, after losing a growing number of battles in the courts, that you're going to be able to go to Congress and lobby for a more favorable copyright statute to shore up the DMCA, then you are out of your minds. Congress' instinct for self-preservation is far more powerful than your greed. They're going to clock you. You can count on it.

Take a sniff of the winds of change. Sure smells like gasoline from here. It might not be a good idea to play with matches.

Anonymous said...

Common Man,

A million? Wouldn't it be nice if they simply said they screwed up and they concur there was no infringement?

Instead they want to chase this loser to the bitter end, after which they will assert the court erred by not eliminating fair use rights. How stupid of them to have issued the U-Tube takedown notice in this case in the first place, and to persist in the way they have rather than simply capitulating and saying mea culpa on this one.

Ray is certainly right, these people are idiots and certainly have no conscience.


Macros said...

TCMS: You're right, they do act as if "they own every moment and form of musical expression". There are documented instances where the RIAA&Co have claimed copyright on songs written & performed by indies.

Jadeic said...

A far greater threat would be to revoke their copyright and place the music in the public domain. That would make them think twice before embarking on such frivolous action again.


Anonymous said...

It's true. Soon enough they'll be demanding settlements from people for daring to sing their songs in the shower. Who knows? Maybe they'll rip off a song off some random artist, call it "The", and charge people just to say the word regardless of contextual reference. "If I had a dollar for every time some sap said that song's name... oh, wait. I do!"

Anonymous said...

I hope that U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel sees through the load of crap that Universal is trying to push off on him.

Anonymous said...

How is this copyright violation?

It's not a public performance for money or benefit. It's not the full song (at best it's sampling). And the quality is clearly poor, falling into the same fair use as tapes compilations back in the day.


skeeter said...

This is just one more example of the insanity in the music industry. This is bad business. In the entertainment industry exposure is everything. The little sampler of this song on YouTube could have been heard by several people and triggered a sale. Has anyone in management at Universal ever heard of "free advertisement". I mean, how many times have you seen, tasted, or heard a sample of something and made a decision to purchase it. Fair use can be an advantage for the entertainment industry. Anonymous (sabs) is right. This was not a public performance for money or benefit. It would have been a benefit for the music industry, but they are too ignorant of basic business principles.

Anonymous said...

If it wasn't for the fact that the record industry clearly takes this kind of thing seriously it would be hilarious.

Maybe there should be an award for things like this, something like the Darwin Awards perhaps, for the stupidist lawsuit of the year.

The most worrying part is that at some point in the process someone senior, presumably with legal training and experience, gave this the green light. Even more worrying is that the law firm retained to fight the case did not see fit to advise their client that the case for the plaintiff's may be somewhat less than watertight.


Anonymous said...

Further thoughts:

This is clearly an attempt, through bullying, intimidation, lawyers, and financial might, to steal away the Public Domain and Fair Use. As such, it must be opposed vigorously.

At the same moment as this is happening over here, the EU has put forth a proposal to accomplish exactly the same end by massively and retroactively extending copyright protection on all existing performances from 50 years to 95. (Note: other forms of creative expression already receive Life+70 protection, which is more than excessive.) This does nothing to encourage creative expression in the manner intended by the copyright concept since all these works were already created under the old terms understood by all. It also only steals away the Public Domain in the name of more profits for those who have already profited from the state monopoly granted to these works for the past 5 decades.

If there was ever a moral case to be made that filesharing is a perfectly proper response to the continued screwing over of the public by the content creation industries the above two examples make it perfectly.

{The Common Man Speaking}

Anonymous said...

Here's the latest from last Friday July 18th.



Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how to submit some evidence to the EFF? I understand that one of the things this case hinges on is what duty someone has when preparing a DMCA notice.

To that end, this recent article on the Consumerist about Viacom sending out bogus DMCA notices would certainly help the judge realize that the current low standards for DMCA notices are problematic. In theory, that should make him more likely to rule that they have SOME responsibility.