Dancing baby mom heads to court

July 18, 2008 7:46:27 PM PDT
Who knew that a short clip of a dancing baby could cause such a ruckus? But what once started out as a short clip intended for friends and family now has almost 500,000 YouTube hits and is the focus of a lawsuit in federal court.

Young Holden Lenz dancing on YouTube is as cute as can be. But his mom had no idea posting the video might be illegal.

The problem was the almost unrecognizable music playing in the background as Holden dances is "Let's Go Crazy," by Prince.

Universal Music Group pulled the video from YouTube last year, saying it violated copyright law.

The Lenz family lives in rural Pennsylvania. ABC7 spoke with Stephani Lenz by phone.

"It's obvious no one looked at the video, sent this notice, accused me of a federal crime and went about their way," Lenz said.

There are hours of dancing baby videos on YouTube, and most contain copyrighted material.

"Most of the time, the scenario is the copyright owner sends notice, Web site takes content down, end of story," Eric Goldman, director of Santa Clara University's High Tech Law Institute said.

But it was not the end of the story. Lenz filed a counter notice and got Holden back up and dancing on YouTube.

Lenz also filed a lawsuit against Universal, claiming they should have known her video fell under the Fair Use Defense of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Attorneys from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is representing Lenz, want Universal to put more thought into its "take down" e-mails.

"I don't think it's a lot to ask that before they send that e-mail they at least think about some obvious defenses right there in the Copyright Act," Corynne McSherry, of the EFF said.

Lawyers for Universal denied ABC7's request for an interview. Goldman, however, said the law gives copyright owners a lot of latitude in yanking videos from public viewing.

"If the copyright owner has any reason to believe the use wasn't authorized, they're probably permitted to do [pull the content] so under the ninth circuit law," Goldman said.

Universal has asked the judge to dismiss the suit. A ruling is expected in the near future.


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