Earlier this year, the EFF sued Viacom
for being overly aggressive in trying to police its copyrighted content on YouTube. Specifically, Viacom had sent a DMCA takedown notice for a parody clip of The Colbert Report that was clearly protected by fair use. After first denying it had sent the takedown notice, Viacom eventually 'fessed up and then settled the case
, promising to be much more mindful of not pulling clips that have a clear fair use defense, and also making it easier for those whose videos were wrongly pulled to get them back online
. If you thought that others in the entertainment industry might take notice of this and be a bit more careful about things, you'd be wrong apparently.
The EFF has felt the need to step in again, this time suing Universal Music for getting a home video of a little kid dancing pulled from YouTube
. The video is only 29-seconds long and is clearly fair use. More importantly, there is simply no way that anyone would claim that this somehow hurt the commercial value of the song (well, I guess Universal Music implicitly was claiming exactly that). No one is going to use this 29-second clip as a substitute for getting the actual song. In fact, if anything, the video might encourage people to go out and find the song to purchase. Also amusing, of course, is that the song in question is by Prince, who's been in the news quite a bit lately for having a much better understanding of how the music industry works
than those who run the record labels. Either way, it appears that the EFF is building up a number of such DMCA-abuse cases -- and it seems likely that they'll eventually use these to demonstrate the problems of the DMCA.