Earlier this week, a judge declined to dismiss a case Universal Music Group brought against a Pennsylvania mother that uploaded a clip of her kid onto Youtube.
It seems UMG sent a takedown notice to the gal over her short vid, where her baby dances to Prince's hit "Let's Go Crazy." YouTube removed the video, but later put it back up. The mother, Stephanie Lenz, joined forces with the Electronics Frontier Foundation and filed suit against UMG last October for abusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in making the takedown request. That original lawsuit was dismissed this April, but the plaintiffs filed a second complaint, which the judge this week declined to throw out.
In its motion to dismiss, UMG argued that it need not take fair use into account, a position the judge rejected. The ruling opens the door to how "fair use" should be taken into account before demanding a video be removed.
"Fair use is a lawful use of a copyright," the judge ruled. "Accordingly, in order for a copyright owner to proceed under the DMCA with 'a good-faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law,' the owner must evaluate whether the material makes fair use of the copyright."
The EFF is calling the ruling a milestone in the fight against a "shoot-first-ask-questions-later" attitude that content owners have taken to demanding content be removed from user-generated content sites. Most user-submitted content sites agree to remove any content on request from copyright holders, which essentially protects them from copyright infringement under the DMCA law. So the EFF lawsuit against UMG seeks to retain some measure of user rights in the process.