Jun 23, 2017

US Supreme Court Refuses To Intervene On Fair Use

In 2007, Stephanie Lenz, uploaded a video of her cute toddler dancing to Prince's 'Let's get crazy' onto YouTube. Lenz, however, was unaware of the repercussions this simple act would have and the subsequent lengthy litigation that continues to this day.

Following the discovery of the video on YouTube, Universal demanded YouTube to take the video down alleging that it infringed their rights. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lenz was not happy with the takedown notice served by Universal and so decided to sue Universal on the grounds that they had made a misrepresentation under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  Lenz, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argued in her filing that Universal should have known that the YouTube video constituted fair use of the copyright in Prince's music.

Stephanie Lenz v. Universal Music Corp finally progressed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in September 2015 whereby the court sided with Lenz in agreeing that takedown notices cannot be served without fair use provisions being considered first. However, the court added a caveat that if a copyright holder formed a subjective good faith belief that the allegedly infringing material did not constitute fair use, then the court would be in no position to dispute the copyright holder's belief even if it would have reached the opposite conclusion."

Though the above caveat is good for rights holders generally, Universal were not happy with it in the context of this case where they had not considered fair use. The judgment was also not good news for uploaders as the only restriction it places on rights holders sending takedown notices is to consider fair use before doing so. Not surprisingly both parties sought to appeal the decision however now the US Supreme Court has said that it will not review the decision, leaving the test set out above as that which will be considered by US courts in respect of the consideration of fair use.

in: Copyright, EU/International

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