Record labels and other copyright holders may find it more difficult to remove content from sites such as YouTube, thanks to a federal appeals court and a dancing baby.
Copyright holders who want infringing content taken down from the Internet—a request to remove a bootleg video from YouTube, for example—must consider whether the content is protected under fair-use rules, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday.
The decision is likely to make it more difficult for large copyright holders such as record labels to issue a large volume of takedown requests without considering aspects of the content they want removed that render it protected under copyright law.
The case decided Monday was brought by a woman who in 2007 recorded and posted a video of her young son dancing to "Let's Go Crazy," a song by Prince, only to find the 29-second video removed from YouTube in response to a copyright claim from Universal Music Group. The woman, Stephanie Lenz, objected to the removal of her video, and had it restored.
Lenz then sued the music company for an unlawful takedown request, with the help of the the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil-liberties advocacy organization.
A panel of three federal judges unanimously upheld a district court's ruling that copyright holders have to consider fair use before issuing a takedown request—and that Universal could be held liable for damages under copyright law if a jury found that the company sent the request without considering fair use.