back to article Dancing Baby v. Universal: Baby wins!

Copyright holders must assess whether material has been used fairly before they demand that it be taken off the internet, a US court has ruled. The case involved a YouTube video clip of a baby dancing to a Prince song. Rights holders who demand that material be taken offline without such an assessment risk paying out damages …


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  1. Peyton

    A fair decision in a copyright case?

    I think this is one of the signs of the apocalypse...

    (I'll be under my desk if anyone needs me)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nuisance case

    Why doesn't Universal try evaluation once in a while it might be less embarrassing to them This

    "Universal suggests that copyright owners may lose the ability to respond rapidly to potential infringements if they are required to evaluate fair use prior to issuing takedown notices,"

    is possibly the lamest concern I have ever heard it was textbook fair use .The fact is I doubt a real human even looked at that clip they have some bot issuing takedown notices without one bit of examination.

  3. Colin Wilson
    Thumb Up

    Revenge of the lawful use lawsuits

    Thank heavens some judges have brain cells of their own (and haven't been bought yet) !

  4. John Robson Silver badge


    A sensible decision - you generally are obliged to check that a law has been broken when you accuse someone of breaking it...

  5. James O'Brien
    Thumb Up

    Wow a judge over here with some sense

    Whoda thunk it? Glad that the idiots over at Universal got whats coming. Fucktards I hope they all die because its stuff like this thats killing music

  6. DangerousDriver

    Damned Facts

    "... is a fact-intensive inquiry ..."

    Imagine that - having to get the basic facts straight before taking legal action!

  7. IR

    Think for a change

    "Universal suggests that copyright owners may lose the ability to respond rapidly to potential infringements if they are required to evaluate fair use prior to issuing takedown notices," said judge Jeremy Fogel

    Oh no, so they might actually have to think rather than make a knee-jerk reaction!

  8. Anonymous Coward

    My tu'p'en'orth

    And here we have the classic Youtube case.

    YouTube(motto: Broadcast Yourself) is there to enable you or I to share a video (motion picture recording aka "Broadcast") of something with deep emotional impact to ourselves ( aka the "Yourself" in "Broadcast Yourself").

    In this case Stephanie Lenz put a video of her son being cute and dancing to some music online. The only people who would be interested in watching this are her friends and family. The fact that music is playing in the background is incidental; It could be any song - Who cares? It's a glorified baby photo. All the viewer is expected to do is go "Awww, wook at the wickle baby wambkin dancing.". And then someone with nothing better to do took offence.

    And therein lies the rub.

    Of course, in the big bad world of grown ups you could call it copyright infringement. You'd have to assume that the video was of Prince, singing "Let's Go Crazy" with a juvenile dancer. You'd be wrong of course, because this is not about Prince, his music, or his Intellectual property rights; It's about a proud mum showing off her little baby. No more, no less.

    What the recording industry lawyers fail to understand is that all music is free. By "free", I mean "liberated". It was cast into the ether, in exchange for money from those who are willing to pay for it. Everyone is encouraged to donate money to those who recorded it, but in the end it's Ours.

    By "Ours", I mean: Yours and mine.

    "Stairway to Heaven" may be the Intellectual property of Atlantic Records(? or whoever), but Messrs Page, Plant, Bonham and Thingy, gave it up for a promise of money and the knowledge that 35 years later, most of the world would cheerfully thank, salute, acknowledge and love them for making a part of their lives better (Better? Different? Special?)

    "Freebird","Let's Go Crazy","Stairway to Heaven", "I should be so lucky","Have you ever seen the Rain?", "Angel of the Morning", that song by Snow Patrol from that program with the nurses, "White Rabbit" and (in the probably intellectual-ly property-ly owned-ly protectected-ly by [K-Tel or Ronco, or whoever "owns" it]ed-ly words of) many many more are Ours. They were given to us to have happy/sad memories about.

    If there was/is/should be a way to differentiate a song that is part of my memories, life, and ultimately "being" from a song that is purely property to be used only for financial and/or commercial gain, then I DEMAND that the publishers and artists distinguish between the two, up-front and clearly.

    I'll tell you something, for free, and without capital incentive: If you don't want your song to be part of me, you & us: heart and soul, then you can keep it. I'll respect your intentions. Just keep it away from me, make sure that the radio stations are aware, give me a warning before after and during it. and I'll respect your financial claims; Just stay away from me, my life and my memories.

    <Slightly drunk, but wearing a winsome smile because "Kayleigh" by Marillion is on the radio. Thank you guys for keeping me young, and if you need the cash, just ask. Ahhhhh Fuggeddit, it's warm, I don't need a coat.>

    <Dances with Lamppost>

  9. daniel


    "Universal suggests that copyright owners may lose the ability to respond rapidly to potential infringements if they are required to evaluate fair use prior to issuing takedown notices,"

    My translation: This law will force us to think before we mindlessly post takedown notices and haul people up in front of the beak without a leg to stand on except our bigger legal budget.

    Fire.... as that is what should be applied to some of the Majors and their legal team

  10. Chris Teague

    Looking for it

    Where's the freak hole in space-time that delivers us an encyclopedia, defining the RIAA as "a bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came"?

    Mine's the one with the guide in the pocket.

  11. Neoc
    Thumb Down

    Goose, meet Gander

    So... Universal wants to be able to use the DMCA to take issue take-down notices that the ISPs have to act on, but doesn't want to be held liable under the same DMCA if they f*ck up.

    ...And the RIAA and MIAA *still* wonder why the public views them with derision.

  12. Homer

    MAFIAA® forced to be fair? <shock>

    "Universal suggests that copyright owners may lose the ability to respond rapidly to potential infringements if they are required to evaluate fair use prior to issuing takedown notices,"

    In other words: "Whaaah, they took away my hammer. Whaaaah".

    Yes, God forbid that the MAFIAA® thugs should actually be forced to act appropriately and fairly. Surely they have an inherent right to rampage throughout society with complete impunity, to squeeze us all for every drop of blood they can get.

    Or so they rather arrogantly think.

    But then what else should we expect from a company that declares it "illegal" throw away promo CDs, and is part of an organisation that stalks 10 year old file-sharers at school then make threatening phone calls to them?

    The only thing that keeps these thugs out of jail is their money.

  13. Kev K
    Thumb Up

    Prince is a freak

    and I hope he loses his house payingout compensation over this

    Sue me you midget - Ive got no money - its all in the girlfriends name

  14. Sandra Greer
    IT Angle

    Much better video

    This one has a cockatoo dancing to Back Street Boys.

    It is GREAT!

  15. dervheid

    Great Decision.

    It's about time that the bully boy corporations were put in their place.

  16. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    @ Mectron


    I work for Stay Tunes and we had an artist called BcAlly.

    What are you suggesting?

  17. Dave K


    Hopefully these should be applied using the RIAA formula. In other words, take a minor offence (forgetting about fair use and whatnot) and blow it all out of proportion by tacking lots of zeroes onto the end. How would something like $75,000 sound? After all in Universal's defence, it was only 1 infringement by them...

  18. Danyer
    Thumb Down

    How should I know...

    OK, so the Universal and their army of lawyers think about fair-use assessment as a "... a fact-intensive inquiry ...".

    So how can I, as a "consumer" know that I can publish something on the internet in the good fair-use faith. I can not. I don't have the army of lawyers to help me asses this. It is better for me to abstain for publishing anything, even if I think it is fair-use, because I cannot be sure.

    Shame on you Universal. Go f*ck yourself. Universal s*cks!

  19. Victor Meldrew

    At last some sense...

    A big thanks to this judge....

    About time the entertainment industry is held responsible for the current day witch-hunt known as DMCA.

    ... Judge not, that you be not judged.

  20. AC
    Thumb Up

    damages may be nominal in real terms,

    but that shouldn't stop her demanding millions.

    Do unto others as you would have others do unto you and all that.

  21. Dave B

    re: My tu'p'en'orth

    Beautifully put, AC. You write all the best posts here.

  22. Steve


    "After all in Universal's defence, it was only 1 infringement by them..."

    They've interferred with her rights a number of times equal to the number of people that could have potentially seen the video - so that's pretty much everyone who has access to the internet which is about 360m people and rising.

    Let's be generous and set damages at $0.01 per potential infringement - which is far less than the RIAA would demand.

  23. EvilGav

    @ Prince is a freak

    Stop being an idiot.

    Prince or TAFKAP was the one who bailed from the current recording studios due to a crap contract and their manner of working.

    This incident was created by a company that the artist in question isn't even linked to anymore.

  24. David Perry

    @ EvilGav

    Good point there.

    Wonder what would happen if El Reg were to ask his own publicists what they make of this? I'd chuckle if he watched it and laughed or was like "yeahhhh I'm likin this".

  25. James Pickett


    "damages available to Lenz might be small"

    I hope not. She deserves a huge sum for having the balls to take on a company like Universal (whose lawyers will all have been paid handsomely). And they deserve kicking anyway.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just when you thought Justice<>Common Sense


    Could anyone advise of cases that aren't "... a fact-intensive inquiry ..."?

  27. William Bronze badge

    No filming.

    Best go round to next door and ask them to turn down their stereo if you're filiming in the garden. I realise they are having a BBQ, but you don't want a DCMA slapped on your family video. In fact, its best to go round and make sure no-one is humming or whistling a song whenever you want to film. As for filiming your fellow workers at the christmas party - forget it, that's just asking for trouble. There are artists starving in the gutter because of people like you. Starving!

  28. Anonymous Coward

    @ EvilGav, ppl defending [TAFKA]Prince

    Ever heard of a company called WebSherriff? Please to be Googling any combination of :

    Prince AND ("Web Sherriff" OR "Web Sheriff" OR "WebSherriff" OR "WebSherriff") AND (Register OR eBay OR "Pirate Bay" OR PirateBay OR b3ta)

    These are just the examples I can recall off the top of my head, without even having an interest in these sites (except El Reg, obviously!) OR Prince. I just don't like bullies.

    I believe the colloquial expression is "Check your facts". ;¬)

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