@illusionofmore: How the “Dancing Baby” Case Went Crazy

When will tech companies start taking responsibility for DMCA counter notices that are obviously wrong?

Last week, both the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Universal Music Group filed petitions with the United States Supreme Court in regard to what is commonly known as the “Dancing Baby” case.  The “baby” in question is about 11 years old now, and for those who might not know how a mundane home video became the focus of a multi-year, federal litigation now begging the attention of the Supreme Court, let’s review …

In February of 2007, Holden Lenz of Pennsylvania was just 18 months old when his mother Stephanie video-taped him dancing to Prince’s song “Let’s Go Crazy” and then posted the video on YouTube—a platform that was just six months older than Holden.  Because Prince was especially guarded about all uses of his music—and was justifiably critical of YouTube in particular—the Lenz video was one of several targets added to a list of DMCA takedown notices to be filed by Universal Music Group on the artist’s behalf. The “Dancing Baby” video was removed on June 5, 2007, and according to an ABC News story published in October of that year, Lenz stated that she was initially “frightened” about having her video removed from YouTube, concerned that UMG might file suit against her, and then the fear of said litigation made her “angry.”

So between the Summer and Fall of 2007, the public version of this story had already begun to stray from the relevant facts in the case.  For starters, Ms. Lenz had, on her own, immediately sent an incorrectly filled-out DMCA counter notice on June 7 seeking to restore her video. But if she were truly “frighted” about a lawsuit by UMG, that would have been the moment for her to proceed with caution because a DMCA counter notice can, in some cases, trigger legal action by a rights holder. Subsequently, at the advice of an attorney friend, Lenz contacted the Electronic Frontier Foundation to better understand her options, believing at the time that UMG might have infringed her First Amendment right of free speech.

Read the post on David Newhoff’s blog The Illusion of More 

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