The Dancing Baby Case ‘cannot wait’, says EFF

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in the last brief to the Supreme Court has argued that Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbours need ultimate and final clarification.

The EFF on behalf of Stephanie Lenz, as an answer to the call of US government for the case to be dropped, said that the DMCA’s safe harbours are unstable, that has five competing interpretations of the Act, which are “too important to be left in this state of confusion”.

The solicitor general was invited by the Supreme Court to file a brief in which views of the US government in October last year had been expressed.

In 2007, Lenz the mother of the 18 months old Holden Lenz recorded a 29 second video of him dancing to a song and posted it on YouTube. The Lenz video became the target of DMCA notices as the artist prince was quite critical about YouTube. The Universal Music Group filed a case on the behalf of the artist for copyright infringement. The video got removed on June 5, 2007, and was published in October of the same year.

Lenz said: “she was extremely scared about the video removal from YouTube, UMG filing suit against her and the fear of proceedings made her annoyed.”

The EFF took the case on June 27, 2007, on behalf of Lenz, the video got restored by mid-July and EFF then filed its early complaint on July 24 against the Universal Music Group.

As a reply to this, the EFF held that the court “can and should grant review to ensure that those parameters are properly construed”.

“The government’s own brief demonstrates the need to grant certiorari in this case. The government’s concern that the parties and the statute are not grounds for denying the petition.”

The government position is incorrect said the EFF and does “not render this case as inappropriate vehicle” to discuss the DMCA. “That review cannot wait for some other time or case.”

The EFF on behalf of Lenz argued that the claim of the company for copyright infringement is not proper and such targeting by DMCA is a threat to free expression on the internet. The DMCA embraces the provisions that are designed to prevent abuse of takedown process and permits people like Lenz to take legal action against the copyright holders for false takedowns.

The EFF has collaborated with Stanford Fair Use Project to develop a set of best practices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

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