On Monday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a company can’t issue a takedown notice without first considering “fair-use.”
The case came about after a staffer hired by Universal Music Corp. noticed the video of the children dancing to Prince's "Let's Go Crazy." The staffer issued what's known as a takedown notice, which kept the video off YouTube for about six weeks.
The ruling Monday essentially says that a copyright holder must first consider whether the posting constitutes "fair use," which might include educational or journalistic purposes or brief, private postings "that doesn't damage the commercial market for the work," SFGate.com reported.
Companies that fail to consider fair use before issuing takedown orders can be held liable for attorney fees and other damages.
Lenz's lawyer, Corynne McSherry, said the ruling sends a clear message that "copyright law does not authorize thoughtless censorship of lawful speech."
“I am hopeful we will have fewer improper takedown orders,” McSherry said. “Copyright holders now are on notice they have to be more careful.”
An entertainment lawyer interviewed by the LA Times said he expects cases of clear-cut piracy to be unaffected by the ruling. Instead, fewer "mom-and-pop postings that happen to include a song in the background" will be targeted by takedown notices.