Online Video NewsVideo TrendsLenz v. Universal Music Corp – How An Innocent Little Baby Video Sparked A Youtube Copyright Debate

Popularly called as "dancing baby's case", check out how Stephanie Lenz defended Universal Studios after she was asked to remove the video from YouTube.
Akshay Chandra4 years ago

Let’s Go Crazy – Yes, that’s what Universal Studios did after watching this video of a baby dancing to Prince’s song, ‘Purple Rain’ from his multi-platinum album.

Eight years ago, Stephanie Lenz posted a video of her toddler dancing to “Let’s Go Crazy” song. It’s just like any other video of dancing and talking toddlers which can be found on YouTube. (Remember Charlie bit my finger?)

Universal Studios’ assistant caught a glimpse, and ordered Ms.Lenz to remove the 29 Sec video immediately.  As per the Take Down notice,  the video violated their copyrights in accordance with The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Thereafter, Lenz sued Universal Studios with the help of the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) claiming the company didn’t considered her rights to fair use when filing the takedown notice. Corynne McSherry, EFF Staff Attorney commented, “Universal’s takedown notice doesn’t even pass the laugh test.”

Her claim boils down to the question of whether copyright holders have been abusing the law by ignoring  procedures required to check whether the content qualifies as fair use or not.

The outcome of the copyright infringement case is yet to be decided. The decision is affirmed and the Universal Music has been asked to file its answer within twenty days. (Source: H2O Harvard Law)

Prince is considered to be one of the bestselling artists of all time, selling 100 million records worldwide. He has won 7 Grammy’s,  1 Golden Globe and 1 Academy Award for Purple Rain. He is so famous for being vocal on the matters of copyright infringement on the internet that there is a metaphorical policy named after him, “The Prince Policy”. One can also notice that his music is not available on YouTube platform (As on 16th September, 2015).

According to Stanford University Libraries, the copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. The fair use doctrine states that commenting, parodies, criticizing or research qualifies the user for general use of any material.

Berne convention for the protection of literary and artistic works, an international agreement governing copyright states that there is no need to register for copyrights to work when created, as the rights exists once the work is created. It authorizes countries to allow “fair” use of copyrighted works in other publications or broadcasts.

You can identify copyrights notices on websites by the following examples mentioned below.

  • Copyright © 2015 by Quentin Tarantino.
  • Copyright 2015 by Quentin Tarantino.
  • © 2015 by Quentin Tarantino.

Our advice:

You need to know what is copyrighted and what’s not to the extent of your Fair Usage of that content. There are thousands of YouTube channels that receive YouTube Content ID claims.

Try not to be a part of infringement because this process will affect your YouTube “Account Standing” as you may lose some of the vital features.

Akshay Chandra

Being an artist, movie buff and a media enthusiast, content writing is my career train. I am a proud alumni of Symbiosis Institute of Media Communication (Pune) and currently working for Vidooly.