Copyright Owners Must Consider the Fair Use Doctrine when Issuing DMCA Takedown Notices

15 10 2008

Stephanie Lenz sued Universal Music Corp. (“Universal”) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California under 17 U.S.C. § 512(f) for misrepresentation pertaining to a DMCA takedown notice issued by Universal in relation to a video clip that Lenz posted on YouTube depicting her child dancing to the Prince song “Let’s Go Crazy,” which Universal owns the rights to. Lenz believed her use of the Prince song constituted fair use. She alleged that Universal did not consider fair use before issuing the takedown notice and therefore had misrepresented that it had done so in the takedown notice. Universal sought a motion to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Universal claimed that takedown notice procedures do not require it to consider the fair use doctrine. The Court denied the motion, holding that a copyright owner, in formulating a “good faith belief” that the use of material is not authorized, must consider the fair use doctrine prior to sending a takedown notice. However, the court also indicated that this consideration does not need to be comprehensive.

Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., No. C 07-3783 JF (N.D. Cal. Aug. 20, 2008) (order denying motion to dismiss)

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