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Mom Sues Music Company Over Baby Video Removal 391

Posted by Zonk
from the they-thought-of-the-children dept.
penguin_dance writes "A Pennsylvania mom is fighting back, suing Universal Music Publishing Group for having a home movie taken down off of YouTube. The movie, featuring her 18-month old bouncing to Prince's song, 'Let's Go Crazy,' was cited for removal by the Group for copyright infringement. Mom Stephanie Lenz was first afraid they'd come after her — then she got angry. She got YouTube to put the video back up, she's enlisted the help of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and she's filed a civil lawsuit (pdf). 'I thought even though I didn't do anything wrong that they might want to file some kind of suit against me, take my house, come after me. And I didn't like feeling afraid ... I didn't like feeling that I could get in trouble for something as simple as posting a home video for my friends and family to see.'"
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Mom Sues Music Company Over Baby Video Removal

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  • Tag goodforher ! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ynososiduts (1064782) on Friday October 26, 2007 @11:57PM (#21137147)
    Nothing is better than seeing the average person stand up to the injustice of big corporation.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:27AM (#21137353)
      She's not average. It's been my experience that moms are the toughest f*$king people on the planet, not to be trifled with.

      This music group, may FSM have mercy on them... because she won't.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by kjart (941720)

        Since I do so like to be pedantic, I would like to point out that if moms are indeed characterized as tough, then she would in act be quite average due to the large number of moms.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Seumas (6865)
      But more importantly, she has a child! Having a child makes you a saint and should protect you from the repercussions of doing anything wrong! It's not like she's one of those horrible, selfish non-breeding people using a copyrighted song in content she put online!

      And see, that is the thing... youtube makes money off the site, because of the videos people put up to draw traffic to it. So this copyrighted song is being used for a commercial application. If she was posting this on her own non-commercial websi
      • by scbysnx (837275)
        I agree with everything you said until that last phrase.. its pretty naive to "doubt anyone would have cared" that she put the music up. Also I would think this should reasonably fall under fair use, I don't know if it does legally but it would be a reasonable application for fair use
        • Re:Tag goodforher ! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by bev_tech_rob (313485) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @07:35AM (#21138997)
          I found it funny in the video attached to the article that the ABC commentators mentioned that before this dust-up, only about 20-30 people saw the video (mainly family members). After this story broke, it has received THOUSANDS of hits (i.e Streisand effect).....so once again, big music shot itself in the foot....
      • Huh? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Per Abrahamsen (1397)
        > If she was posting this on her own non-commercial website, I doubt anyone would have cared.

        Is there anything in the past behavior of RIAA that supports that claim?

        I know little of RIAA, but the Danish equivalent have had no trouble targeting non-commercial use with ridiculous claims.
      • by MacDork (560499) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @03:16AM (#21138059) Journal
        Here it is. [youtube.com] UMG doesn't have a leg to stand on.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sique (173459)

        If she was posting this on her own non-commercial website, I doubt anyone would have cared.

        But then still her hoster would make money of it, your Internet provider makes money because you pay for the ability to download it, your computer maker makes money of it etc.pp.

        Don't fall for the theory that just because someone provided the means he is actually a profiteur or a collaborateur. Otherwise the road authority would be responsible for every criminal fleeing along public roads.

    • As a computer-savvy, scifi-reading/watching, down-with-the-man slashdot reader I've always defended our honor. We have no social skills they say! We have no experience with women! Pah! Then I read this: [quote]Nothing is better than seeing the average person stand up to the injustice of big corporation.[/quote] Arrggg... [meant as a joke, not troll]
  • Two words... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    fair use.
    • by Tuoqui (1091447)
      Story should be tagged 'fairuse' too or possibly 'analogholeinaction'
  • by trolltalk.com (1108067) on Friday October 26, 2007 @11:58PM (#21137153) Homepage Journal

    FTFA:

    A well-placed source directly involved in the situation confirmed to ABC News that Prince was directly involved in seeking the takedown of Lenz's video.

    "This guy scours the Internet,'' the source said of the legendary artist, who once changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol and wrote the word "Slave'" on his cheek until he won back the rights to his music from another publishing company.

    "He's really intense about this stuff," the source said, adding that Lenz's video "happened to be one of many'' that artist apparently located online and demanded be taken down.

    Doesn't the guy have better things to do with his time than to send takedown notices for 29-second video clips?

    Hey, maybe he'll have to change his name again to avoid being known as the Bozo formerly known as Prince ...

    • by deesine (722173) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:08AM (#21137203)
      >Doesn't the guy have better things to do with his time than to send takedown notices for 29-second video clips?

      I doubt it was Prince himself doing the searching. Prince is plenty rich enough that he is probably paying someone to do the searching.

      Having worked for an online kids entertainment company, I can tell you that part of the job responsibility of the 2 full time lawyers was to scour the net looking for any and all references to their company name and images. Also, no surprise this company was owned by a Scientologist, with all upper management being part of the cult too.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by catalina (213767)
      Hmm - wasn't it just a few years ago that Prince had a major dustup with BMI (or whatever label), so that he could regain control of HIS music?

      Yet the ABC story this morning seemed to indicate that BMI was responsible for the takedown notice. Is that because BMI still controls some of his older stuff?

      And they interviewed some paid lackey, who was "scouring the internet". It wasn't clear that Prince was directly involved.

    • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:31AM (#21137693) Homepage Journal

      It seems far more likely that BMI/Universal actually found the video and are using this tactic to create bad publicity for Prince (without him having done or said anything).

      He wouldn't be the first artist/band who had a clause in their contract stating that his publisher could, without contacting him, send takedown requests or enter suit on his behalf, in his name, using his name for those purposes, and attributing the action initiation to him personally. There are actually numerous legal situations where, legally, one person sends letters, does some act, or whatever in the name of another person. Much like numerous business or legal letters never written or signed by the person who's "signature" appears at the bottom (yet still written as if that person personally wrote that letter) and in many cases, that person never reads the letter (which is instead read by their marketing and/or legal staff - and then signed in their name by that same staff or secretary).

      It just seems really odd that after all this time, Prince is suddenly interested in tracking down his music online PERSONALLY for music that is "owned" by a record label he despises. I think from all he has said, he'd be thrilled with any of the stuff that the label still controls being out there wherever.

      • by Grave (8234)
        One of these days, artists will collectively decide that the recording industry is bad for them, and do everything in their power to end their contracts. But then, I keep thinking the same thing will happen with the American people and their voting habits.

        If in fact Prince was in any way behind this takedown notice, though, then he belongs in the same family as Metallica.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      >"He's really intense about this stuff," the source said,
      This is the same one that gave away his last album in the UK as a freebie inside a Sunday paper? Hmm.. What curious values he must have although I guess it may just be that they are artistic rather than financial which is fair enough.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hatta (162192)
      Prince is a first class nutbar. Have you read Kevin Smith's story [prince.org] about working with Prince? Still rocks though, so it's all good.
  • dated copyrights (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Robocoastie (777066) on Friday October 26, 2007 @11:59PM (#21137157) Homepage
    ". I didn't like feeling that I could get in trouble for something as simple as posting a home video for my friends and family to see.'"

    It's an example of how outdated our copyright and patent system is in the digital age. They need to be modified to accept that people are going to make fan stuff with them and see it as free advertising for that matter.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by krazytekn0 (1069802)
      I don't know what you're talking about, The whole reason I use youtube is to steal music... Whenever I find a video with 15 seconds or more of a song that I want I blast it through my super hi tech sanyo speakers and record it with my phonograph. I once got a whole 2 1/2 minutes of the tv show 24 recorded off of some junior high girl's video. (I recorded that with my 8mm camera of course) I used to post on /. on parchment but it got really annoying since it covered the computer screen.
  • Prince? (Score:5, Funny)

    by kihjin (866070) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:00AM (#21137163)
    Printable version: http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=3777651 [go.com]

    A well-placed source directly involved in the situation confirmed to ABC News that Prince was directly involved in seeking the takedown of Lenz's video.

    Anyone know how true is this? It seems like he might have better things to do... such as serving us pancakes.
    • I think its someone trying to yet again instill a sense of doubt in the rest of us that real musicians think they're music is merely a product, and not a work of art. I seriously doubt Prince gives a shit.
  • Inspiring... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PottedMeat (1158195) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:05AM (#21137189)
    An American acting like one. You go girl!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by evil_aar0n (1001515)
      Yeah, I kind-of hope this marks a turning point where common Americans get fed up with the crap we're being fed - not just by the *AA, but also by Bush, et al - and we stop taking it like prison bitches and fight back. That's the _true_ American way.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vicsun (812730)

      An American acting like one.

      You mean fIling frivolous lawsuits?
  • by LoadWB (592248) * on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:11AM (#21137225) Journal
    FTA:

    "File-sharing and illegally downloading of music has devastated a once-booming music industry. Some observers say the industry is just trying to protect itself."

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I am of the opinion that this has never been proven conclusively and that what "has devastated a once-booming music industry" is the industry itself.

    Also, for the grammar pedantic, should that be "illegal downloading of music"?
    • Yes and it's never been proven humans cause global warming and evolution is only a theory. You can be pro downloading without having to rationalize it. As downloading goes up sales go down. Some may use it to demo music but others use it to avoid paying.
  • by TheWart (700842) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:15AM (#21137255)
    I have to wonder who thought sending Youtube a take-down notice over this video would be a good idea. There are only a few things that almost all online viewers can find amusing or endearing, and one of them is babies doing cute things. The whole idea behind this is so ludicrous that you almost have to think someone sent it to expose the idiocy behind the methods used by the music labels...The only way this could have been a more boneheaded move from a PR standpoint would to have been asking someone to remove a video of a baby playing with a puppy and kitten while creating lolcat pictures while listening to music in the background.

    Now, if someone wants to sue the mother for letting her young child dance to Prince, then I am all for that :)
    • by Khaed (544779)
      I have to wonder who thought sending Youtube a take-down notice over this video would be a good idea.

      According to the article, Prince apparently thought it was a good idea.

      The way that article makes it sound, he's got a bug the size of his platform shoes up his ass about people using his (sub-par IMO) music in any way without his consent, in triplicate, written in the blood of someone taller than 4'3.
  • by Charles Dodgeson (248492) * <jeffrey@goldmark.org> on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:16AM (#21137265) Homepage Journal
    My nine year old daughter made a video of our dogs playing [youtube.com] and wanted to add bits of the song "Dog Walk" by Scott Henderson to it. So being the obnoxious person I am and a great believer in "Civil Obedience" (strict compliance with stupid laws to help highly their stupidity), I said we need permission from the music publishers even if she just wanted to send the video to a few friends and relatives, much less put it on youtube. So I sent off the following email

    My nine year old daughter wishes to add parts of

    Song: Dog Walk
    Artist: Scott Henderson

    from the album "Dog Party" (Mesa records 1994)

    in a short (two minute) home video of our dogs playing.

    It is one of my daughter's favorite songs.

    The video, probably as a Quick Time movie, will be distributed to maybe a dozen friends and family.

    We would like to know whether we can get permission to use about 1 minute of the song this way, and how you would like to be credited if permission is granted.

    Additionally, she may wish to upload the video to youtube. Please keep in mind that this is a first video made by a nine year old. It is far from professional. Would you grant permission for that as well? And if so, what additional conditions may apply.

    I can send you a copy of the current draft of the video if you wish.

    I am trying to teach my daughter to respect copyrights, and I hope that we can find a way to use the song in the home video in an reasonably convenient way while respecting your copyright.

    If you have some established procedure for individuals making these kinds of requests, please let me know. I couldn't find anything on your website. Thank you.

    This was sent by email on October 8, and I have received no reply. Next I will send a snail mail query.

    All the while I am keeping my daughter informed of progress on this, so that when she grows to the point where she will be making choices regarding intellectual property, she will develop an appropriate respect for how the music publishers handle these things.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by DuckWizard (744428)

      I had mod points this morning, but now they're gone. I want to mod you up, though. This seems like a profoundly good idea and a good way to educate your child about intellectual property laws. It's one thing to decide you want to shoot from the hip, use the music without permission, and hope your use will be covered by fair use; but it's quite another thing to teach your child (through your actions) that such is the way to proceed. So kudos to you.

      Not that it's right for the companies to go around for

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by king-manic (409855)

        Not that it's right for the companies to go around forcing takedowns of harmless uses of their copyrights, but it also says something that nobody even tries to secure permission before putting soundtracks in their youtube videos.

        The thing is you ought not have to, to use a clip. In most places in the west except the US you don't have to. In fact it's most likely the same in the US. A clip is fair use and a clip in a another work is derivative works. The GP is basically teaching them the law as the records companies dearly want. Not the law as it is. So the GP is in effect either being ironic or teaching his/her child to give up rights. The common view of copyright is severely skewed. Copyright is not the content creator graciously

    • by antdude (79039)
      Nice plan. Do you have a blog on this? Others and I would love to check your progress on this. :)
    • by interiot (50685) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @02:03AM (#21137843) Homepage

      Brilliant. One thing you should add, however, is a willingness to pay a small fee for the permission. Surely that's reasonable.

      Of course, if they decide they don't want to take your money because you're small potatoes, it's obviously ironic if they decide to pay a ton of money to lawyers, to sue people over equally small potatoes. But it'd be nice if there were a way to codify that irony into law. That is... unless there's a reasonable means for people to request and receive permission to use copyrighted works, then the RIAA can't sue those small potatoes either. Of course, current copyright law says that it's well within a copyright holder's right to withhold their work for any reason. However, copyright is hopefully shifting towards somewhat more permissive rules these days. And if it does shift that way, hopefully one of the first things to shift would be that if a copyright holder distributes tens of millions of copies of a work, that they can hardly expect the teeming masses to not want to at least minimally interact with that work, and that such a proposal might be reasonable for widely-distributed works.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by greenbird (859670) *

        Of course, if they decide they don't want to take your money because you're small potatoes, it's obviously ironic if they decide to pay a ton of money to lawyers, to sue people over equally small potatoes.

        What the hell are you talking about suing for small potatoes. A jury recently decided blatant infringement like this cost the music industry $9,000 per song infringed. If you ask them they'll tell you it cost them billions a year and they're paying about that much to the congress critters to pass laws so they get that much every time they sue anybody.

    • by shawn443 (882648)
      You should write this for some of the marketing people I have seen. They seem to be oblivious to anything but right clicking, selecting "save as", and importing into publisher.
  • To paraphrase.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrKevvy (85565) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:31AM (#21137367)
    "How can u upload my music?
    How can u pirate my song? (Yeah *my* song!)
    Maybe I'm just 2 demanding,
    Maybe the clip's only 30 seconds long,
    Maybe u're just that kid's mother
    He's never satisfied (Now he likes Nevermind)
    Why do we takedown each other?
    This is what it sounds like
    When suits fly."
  • by Nonillion (266505) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:33AM (#21137373)
    My middle finger is waving at you. You got to be fucking kidding me. Don't you ass holes have something better to do? Like oh I don't know, publish better music? How many more company's am I NOT going to buy music CD's and DVD's from. But, just like normal you have to send bull shit take down notices for things that are clearly FAIR USE family videos. Get a FUCKING clue would you, because these 'take down notices' for irreverent things are getting way beyond old.
  • Go MOM! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TechwoIf (1004763) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:40AM (#21137425) Homepage
    Go MOM!

    Weather or not this is covered under fair use, at least someone, even if its just a few, are firing back at the MAFIAA.

    Even though this case might not matter, the PR from it might just wake up a few congress critters that just taking the money from the MIFIAA might not be a good idea to stay elected if enough angrey moms vote then out.

  • I say, (Score:3, Funny)

    by jon287 (977520) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:23AM (#21137667)
    She ought to write "slave" on one cheek and "owned by big biz" on the other until this is resolved. And maybe hang out around prince's multi-million dollar residence for a few days, collecting publicity photos. That should harsh his mellow a bit. Talk about hypocrisy!? WTF! This must be a new low.
  • That means simply singing or humming his songs would result in us violating copyright protection! There are better artistes elsewhere who will appreciate us appreciating their music.
  • If she is using someone else's copyrighted material and anyone is earning money off of it besides the creators without their permission, then she is infringing.

    I'm sorry but I think those all apply here.

    Written in 1984, it is only 24 years old- so even by the original jeffersonian copyright rules which I prefer & support the song should have another four years to go.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by king-manic (409855)

      If she is using someone else's copyrighted material and anyone is earning money off of it besides the creators without their permission, then she is infringing.

      I'm sorry but I think those all apply here.

      Written in 1984, it is only 24 years old- so even by the original jeffersonian copyright rules which I prefer & support the song should have another four years to go.

      It's not so cut and dry... you know there are so many one noted replies that seem like "golly the bad lady hurt the poor starving artist. clearly she needs ot be punished". Either the US has given up on asserting fair use and has rolled over and let the corprate interests rape them, or there is a significant number of astroturfers on slashdot.

      A copyright grants a limited monopoly on distribution on certain content. Fair use exempts certain forms of distribution as allowable. The idea is that a artist/creat

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @03:27AM (#21138095) Journal

    If you read the story then it seems as if this mother went to the EFF and they are representing her. The EFF ain't a commercial organization, this isn't a lawyer who is going to get his money wether he wins or loses.

    Yet many will spout that she doesn't stand a chance. Yeah, because the EFF lawyers are NOT leaders in their field with a long history of winning.

    This is a video with music playing in the background. Imagine if that was illegal, does the same go for images? BAM, you just destroyed all visual media taken in say Disney land. Disney owns the image rights to their park. Hell, simply picture on the street is likely to have lots of copyrighted advertising signs. Your clothes? Owned by the designer. Could you only make homemovies in a sterile white room with naked people? Might get a bit boring.

    You could barely film/photograph anything without showing something that infringes on a copyright.

    I am not going to watch a video of a baby, but the music was playing in the background, it was NOT a soundtrack added to the video. If we make it illegal to film normal live we have really bend over to far to the music industry.

    But hey, don't take my word for it. Talk to a lawyer. A good one. Who does his work because he believes in a cause and does it without saying "win or lose, you own me". IANAL but the EFF is.

  • by petrus4 (213815) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @04:30AM (#21138313) Homepage Journal
    Prince represents one fairly extreme (and minority, it should also be said) end of the spectrum as far as intellectual property is concerned. At the other end you've got people like Trent Reznor with the comments he made at his concert recently, literally telling people to pirate his music.

    The moral of the story here is that if you're selecting artists to listen to, it might actually be a good idea to try and find out what their individual stance on enforcement is. Some are going to be like Prince, or Metallica. Others are going to be like Trent Reznor. Most, I suspect, will fall somewhere in between, in the sense that while they won't mind fair use to a degree similar to what has traditionally existed with radio, they will still, in the end, quite rightfully expect people to buy CDs of their music. However, I also believe that enforcement needs to be the responsibility of the artist themselves, and not middlemen organisations like the RIAA...because very often the middlemen organisations hold views which are not representative of everyone that they claim to represent.

    One other thing I'd actually like to see some acts offering is the possibility of legal indemnity to individuals who can be proven to have bought copies of their music. In other words, if you buy a copy of a given artist's music, for a contract to exist between you and said artist specifying exactly what it is that you are or are not legally allowed to do with the music you've bought, and as long as you operate within those guidelines, you won't get sued. Different artists are going to have different perspectives on that, so said contracts would actually need to be extremely individual in nature. I'm also not talking about something exactly the same as a software license here, either. I would want to see something where people actually had to provide individual signatures that were recorded along with the date of purchase; not something clickthrough that is untraceable, unenforceable, and can thus be brushed off.

    Someone like Prince would obviously be fairly strict; private, individual listening/viewing only, with no reproduction or secondary performance allowed of any kind whatsoever. At the other end of the spectrum you'd likely get people who'd be willing, once you've paid them, to let you do whatever you wanted, up to and including the creation of derivative works.
  • By the numbers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Stanislav_J (947290) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @05:19AM (#21138549)

    "File-sharing and illegally downloading of music has devastated a once-booming music industry. Some observers say the industry is just trying to protect itself."

    Last time I checked, the industry's profits were still pretty comfortably in the gaziliions range. If by "devastated" they mean "somewhat less outrageous than before," and "our poor execs are having to get by on salaries and bonuses only 30 times as big as the average workingman's salary instead of 50 times as much" then perhaps it's an accurate statement. It's all a matter of proportion -- the more you make, the more you expect. It's like a baseball player making $20 mil a year, then getting insulted because his team wants to pay him "only" $15 mil this year. Corporations and their royalty seem to think that they have a "right" to consistently make as much or more than they did the previous year. I think Average Joe has little sympathy for them (as do I).

  • by EEPROMS (889169) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @06:30AM (#21138777)
    All your culture are belong to us

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