(HOLLYWOOD REPORTER) — If copyright owners don't consider fair use before sending a takedown, they can get in trouble for misrepresentation. On Monday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals made this clear in a long-awaited opinion in a dispute concerning a 29-second video clip of a toddler dancing to the 1984 Prince hit "Let's Go Crazy."
In 2007, after Stephanie Lenz posted the clip, Universal Music told YouTube to remove it for allegedly violating publishing rights on the Prince song. The takedown sparked an outcry from those who believed that background music in a cute baby video wasn't a violation of the music giant's rights. The Electronic Frontier Foundation subsequently represented Lenz in a lawsuit against Universal for allegedly violating §512(f) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
On appeal, Universal drew support from the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America with arguments that fair use is merely an affirmative defense to a copyright lawsuit while Lenz' side gathered amici backing from such companies as Google, Twitter and Tumblr. These tech companies aimed to impose larger burdens on copyright owners demanding takedowns.
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