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First off today, Joe Mullin at Ars Technica reports that, after five years, the “Dancing Baby” lawsuit may be coming to an end. The saga began in 2007 when Universal Music ordered the takedown of a YouTube video posted by Stephanie Lenz. Lenz’s video was a 30-second clip of her son dancing to a Prince song that was playing in the background. Though the video was restored Lenz, with the help of the EFF, sued Universal alleging that the company knowingly filed a false takedown and, as per the DMCA, is liable for damages. However, after years of discovery, there’s still no evidence that Universal knew it was making any kind of misrepresentation. The amount of money Lenz is suing for is small, just $62.50 (representing minimum wage rates for ten hours of time she spent fighting the takedown before contacting the EFF) and $1,275 for the time the EFF has spent. The case now appears to be heading to a jury trial as the judge has said he is unlikely to find for either side without one. However, a jury trial may just be setting the stage for appeals as both sides feel more is at stake in this issue than just the alleged damages.
Next up today, Eriq Gardner at Billboard Magazine reprots that the strange case between the Ray Charles Foundation and the famous singer’s children. Charles’ children are seeking to terminate their father’s copyright agreement with Warner/Chappell Music. As per Charles’ will, all royalties from his music go to the Ray Charles Foundation, a non-profit that provides support for students with hearing disorders. However, under the Copyright Act of 1978, copyright holders and their heirs can terminate agreements with third parties 56 years after the assignment. The Foundation tried to intervene, claiming that the work was created as a work-for-hire with the labels though the heirs claimed that, if that were true, then the Foundation has no standing to sue or oppose the termination. The judge agreed but Foundation has filed again, changing its theory, saying it was not a work for hire and that it has a standing to sue as a “Beneficial owner.” If the judge agrees with this, it could open the door to other royalty recipients to protest copyright termination claims, including record producers.
Finally today, Time Kenneally of The Wrap writes that South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone are being sued over a character in their show, The Lollipop King, which Exavier Wardlaw claims is based on his character “The Big Bad Lollipop” in his show “The Lollipop Forest”. According to the lawsuit, Wardlaw was particularly incensed to see his character used in South Park in an “unwholesome” manner given the family-friendly nature of his show. Wardlaw is seeking to have all references to his show removed and the characters removed from the opening titles. Comedy Central, which airs South Park, had no comment on the lawsuit.
That’s it for the three count today. We will be back tomorrow with three more copyright links. If you have a link that you want to suggest a link for the column or have any proposals to make it better. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I hope to hear from you.
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