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Mom Sues Music Company Over Baby Video Removal 391

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.
  • 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    It's an example of how outdated our copyright and patent system is in the digital age.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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:03AM (#21137177)

    Something as innocuous as a family video being removed merely because of the presence of copyrighted audio? Where does it stop? Would Universal have let the video go if the music was only incidental? Be honest with yourself here; they wouldn't. It begs the question; how can the executives and lawyers responsible for perpetuating this fascist campaign possibly think that this fosters goodwill amongst the populace, let alone sleep with themselves at night?

  • Inspiring... (Score:4, Insightful)

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

  • by ( 1108067 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:11AM (#21137223) Homepage Journal

    > "Talk to a lawyer before going head-over-heels suing someone like the *AA for taking your video off a site that doesn't even belong to you, ma-am"

    If you had bothered to read the article, or even the SUMMARY, you would have known that she did talk to a lawyer. > "Unlike the *AA, you do not have the money, expertise, or political connections to be able to pull something like that."

    The EFF is doing the suing for her, because of the principles at stake. Not everything is about money.

    If people held the **AAFIA's feet to the fire more often, maybe we would have fewer frivolous takedown notices, and a bit more respect all around.

  • by LoadWB ( 592248 ) * on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:11AM (#21137225) Journal

    "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"?
  • by sharkb8 ( 723587 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:17AM (#21137269)
    You can have a suit filed against you anytime, it doesn't matter if you filed first. You can have a first suit filed against you without doing anything, or have a second suit or a counterclaim filed if you file first. Prince didn't sue her because she's got no money. What would be the point? In fact, you generally want to file suit first, you get to pick the venue. Is 9th circuit (CA) or 2nd Circuit (NY) is friendlier to fair use?

    You can file a suit without even having a takedown notice. If you have reason to believe that someone will sue you for infringement, you can initiate a suit for declaratory judgment, where you get to pick the venue and circumstances.

    She went to the EFF because they'll handle her case for free. Yeah, she's doing it to make a point, but the EFF can get legal fees out of the copyright holders if they win, and she may get damages. The RIAA may pay her off just to avoid setting a precedent that they'd have to live with for the next 50 years.

    And yes, I am an IP/patent attorney.
  • Video Game Clips (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:17AM (#21137271)
    I have seen so many WoW pvp clips or boss fights on youtube that are accompanied by some song.

    Why arent these forced down?

  • Re:Punk redefined? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jaypolka ( 1101133 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:19AM (#21137293)
    Nirvana is closer to punk than what passes as punk these days.
  • 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.
  • by calebt3 ( 1098475 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:30AM (#21137365)
    Because nobody has asked.
  • 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 Seumas ( 6865 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:33AM (#21137371)
    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 website, I doubt anyone would have cared.
  • Listen, lady (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:35AM (#21137393)
    ". 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.'"

    You didn't make a video for your friends and family, you freaking put it on YOUTUBE for the WHOLE PLANET. Sheesh. If all you wanted was for friends and family to see it, email it JUST TO THEM.
  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:36AM (#21137401)
    she did use a copyrighted work without authorization. We can argue over and over about whether that law is right, but it is what it is.

          It doesn't matter - it takes money to defend from lawsuits, and that is less money the publisher has to START lawsuits. It's her dime, but more people should be doing this.

          Also, the situation is ridiculous. OK yes if we stick to the letter of the law, it's not "fair use". But make sure you keep your car windows rolled up because if anyone hears the music you are playing from the sidewalk that's a "public performance" and you will owe royalties. Don't hum any catchy tunes, either. Copyright law is too vague and covers/prohibits too much. More sensible countries have a clause in there that specifically prohibits commercial gain and everything else is fine. Which is as it should be.
  • 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.

  • Re:Inspiring... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by evil_aar0n ( 1001515 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:57AM (#21137529)
    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.
  • 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 Reality Master 201 ( 578873 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @01:53AM (#21137805) Journal
    If you really think that phrase is grammatically correct English, I'd love to know if English is your native language and if so, where you come from. Seriously. I'm interested in syntactic variation and change and I've never encountered a variety of English in which that'd be ok, prescriptively or otherwise.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @03:12AM (#21138045) Journal

    Who do you think knows the law better, the people of the EFF who are handling the case OR some idiot with a slashdot account?

    She didn't hire some ambulance chaser who is going to get his money anyway, she went to the EFF and they took on her case. That is smarts. The EFF doesn't exactly have a long history of losing. The content industry may be able to hire lots of lawyers but the EFF seems to get the smart ones.

    Will she win? Wrong question, will the EFF win on HER behalve.

    Also this will play extremely badly for Prince. I doubt he wishes to be known as the artists that sues moms. You can bet your ass that the press will have a field day because of his former name. THey LOVE pun headlines. If you have them a choice between a pun headline about a kitten or the outbreak of WW3, they choose the kitten.

    No my friend, I will take the legal opinion of the EFF any time over yours. To many people on slashdot think they are lawyers. I listen to the ones who really are AND have a track record of being any good at it.

  • 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 ren-n-stimpy ( 230862 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @03:46AM (#21138169) Homepage
    uh, you are so sure of yourself, yet your argument is non-legal nonsense. Here are the tests of fair use: []

    The four factors judges consider are:

          1. the purpose and character of your use
          2. the nature of the copyrighted work
          3. the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
          4. the effect of the use upon the potential market.

    in this case:

    1. clearly transformative, new work - she wins
    2. not factual stuff, yet hugely public - a wash
    3. it's a small fraction of the work, yet non-trivial - a wash
    4. none, not for sale - clearly she wins this one

    in short, whether you agree w/ *my* analysis or not, anyone can agree you made no fair use analysis AT ALL, instead tossing out pseudo-legal terms to confuse others, and prop yourself up. which makes it ridiculous to claim "she will lose."

    no, not ridiculous:

  • by greenbird ( 859670 ) * on Saturday October 27, 2007 @04:21AM (#21138273)

    You didn't make a video for your friends and family, you freaking put it on YOUTUBE for the WHOLE PLANET.

    Give me a fucking break. She posted a video of her kid with something that I couldn't even distinguish playing in the background. Whatever she used the video for, any noise in the background is incidental. If you really think this in any way, shape or form is effecting {symbol}'s (the moron formally known as prince) ability to make money forever for a few days work he did who knows how long ago, you're a moron also. And while you're at it explain why the are there laws enforcing the fact that just because some asshole can make a little music their little bit of work should be preserved for the exclusive purpose of making money for both them and their relatives for 90 years after they are dead. Strangely enough there are no laws forcing people to keep paying me until 90 years after I'm dead for the work I do every day.

  • by s4m7 ( 519684 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @05:01AM (#21138457) Homepage

    Copyright law entirely supports her right to do what she did

    but it was also updated to provide some rules for how to handle uploads of potentially infringing material
    What? Takedown notices are not really governed by any rules, and most companies will drop the "potentially" infringing material like a hot potato without review once one of these extra-constitutional letters are sent. That's a system that dramatically favors content owners who have large legal budgets. If the law supports what she did, then why should it be so easy for some multinational corporation to shut it down without them incurring any penalty?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2007 @07:27AM (#21138975)

    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.
    Since when did we anoint artists as kings? Those artists didn't require permission to use words or sounds in their compositions. We should beg for the right to look or listen if something they created is playing in the background? We should pretend we are deaf, dumb, and blind when the "magical" sounds and views are displayed? Or maybe everyone should just take as they please, and use how they want, as nobody loses anything, and nobody creates more than is created by the sum of others, including what those living have received from those no longer living. If art is truly valuable then all artists are approaching infinity PAID by the ability to take and use as they please from all other artists not themself. Everyone benefits, and nobody loses in the absence of copyright. There's no scarcity, only abundance from multiplication. Breathing or singing upon the real physical property of another does not transfer ownership of physical property to those who breath or sing at that property. Yet photographers think taking a photograph of you gives them your image as property. They think taking a picture of your land gives them your land as property. They think creating a song gives them ownership of your cds and your computers.

    No, you can damn well shape your cds and your hard drives in any manner you wish. This harms nobody. Just tear down the bullshit "intellectual property" wall, and there is no limit to multiplying the abundance of art. Fuck creating mass scarcity poverty so that a few can can prosper by denying that which is freely available to all whenever they wish with no physical limits or loss to anyone. This denies nobody the ability to voluntarily reward those they voluntarily wish to reward for creations, with money, fame, praise, or whatever they wish to give. There's all sorts of levels of reciprocal exchange which can be had for benefactors. Nobody should beg to breath air. If smells, sounds, and views, both pleasant and putrid, freely float, you can choose who to reward and who to not reward whenever you wish.
  • by king-manic ( 409855 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @07:30AM (#21138987)

    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/creator/agent there of is enable to collect fees in some circumstances and has control. However not all forms of distribution violate copyright. In fact the media studios have been extremely over zealous in their pursuit of their fair share. This case is likely within fair use regaurdless of what you say.
  • by bev_tech_rob ( 313485 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @07:31AM (#21138991)
    Because slowly but surely, people are getting increasingly tired of big corporations telling you how to live your life, what you can see, what you can do....etc.... Besides, you can barely make out what the song is and as the other reply to your message mentioned, it is fair use. I say to the mom, 'You Go, Girl!'
  • by penix1 ( 722987 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @08:17AM (#21139147) Homepage
    I agree completely....

    The only problem I have with this case is the fact that she *is* suing the wrong party here. Her beef lies with YouTube for their knee jerk reaction in pulling the video on unsubstantiated copyright claims. That is the hazard of the DMCA. For all we know, the label being sued could be "Joe Jobbed" in this. All it takes for some places (YouTube being one of those places) is an email claiming copyright infringement and POOF! There goes your content. The DMCA was purposely setup this way. YouTube could lose their safe harbor status if they didn't. It's a flaw in the DMCA that hasn't been addressed.

    I don't think this will even make it to a court solely based on that.
  • Re:Inspiring... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vicsun ( 812730 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @08:42AM (#21139265)

    An American acting like one.

    You mean fIling frivolous lawsuits?
  • by waldo2020 ( 592242 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @10:59AM (#21140051)
    no, dickwad. It's called fair use! look it up.
  • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Saturday October 27, 2007 @11:41AM (#21140309) Homepage

    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.
  • Re:DMCA ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by silas_moeckel ( 234313 ) <silas&dsminc-corp,com> on Saturday October 27, 2007 @12:20PM (#21140565) Homepage
    Having been involved with hosting I have to run though my favorite DMCA response.

    We get a take down notice for some free hosting bits all we have is an email.
    We forward it and they respond with a funny/fake counter notice. Since it's the first time we get legal involved and they say forward it back and do not question it.
    We forward it to the original requester and keep the content up.
    They sued and got a summary judgment after 6 months we got the order from the court and removed it and hand over any records we had to who uploaded it.

    Seems to be a good plan, They used tor to get to our site, they I would assume used tor to get to the free email service so we had no useful info. I would assume they did the same thing somewhere else and got the content back up. Overall the DMCA is not to bad in this from the ISP point of view, it should allow for a processing fee from the ISP paid by whoever makes the request, and ban ones on the responder (let the court get them to pay for it if they loose sure) since it's expensive to handle these things well.

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain