Note to any parents in the audience: If you’re going to post a clip of your baby adorably dancing on YouTube, don’t use music with publishing rights owned by Universal Music Publishing Group. Even if you use less than 30 seconds of said song–as the mom who shot the above video of her baby bopping around while Prince’s Super Bowl performance played in the background did–a copyright claim will be filed by the company, and YouTube will cave:
Stephanie Lenz’s 29-second recording shows her son bouncing along to the Prince song “Let’s Go Crazy,” which is heard playing in the background. Lenz uploaded the home video to YouTube in February to share it with her family and friends.
But last month, YouTube informed Lenz that it had removed the video from its website after Universal claimed that the recording infringed a copyright controlled by the music company. Under federal copyright law, a mere allegation of copyright infringement can result in the removal of content from the Internet.
“I was really surprised and angry when I learned my video was removed,” said Lenz. “Universal should not be using legal threats to try to prevent people from sharing home videos of their kids with family and friends.”
“Universal’s takedown notice doesn’t even pass the laugh test,” said EFF Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry. “Copyright holders should be held accountable when they undermine non-infringing, fair uses like this video.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing Universal on Lenz’s behalf; the suit is asking for “a declaratory judgment that Lenz’s home video does not infringe any Universal copyright, as well as damages and injunctive relief restraining Universal from bringing further copyright claims in connection with the video.” No word on whether people who had their Beyonce-falling clips taken down yesterday are going to go this route as well, but in the new realm of “innovative lawsuits” anything’s possible, we suppose.