Lenz v. Universal Music, No. 13-16106 (9th Cir. filed 9/14/2015) [decision].
Copyright owners must consider whether allegedly infringing use is "fair use" before sending takedown notices under the DMCA, holds the 9th Circuit. In the so-called "dancing baby case," Plaintiff alleged that Universal Music violated 17 USC 512(f) by misrepresenting in a takedown notice that a home video of her son dancing to a Prince song and posted on YouTube constituted an infringing use of a portion of a "Prince" composition. The Court held that the DMCA requires copyright owners to consider fair use before sending a takedown notice, and that failure to do so raises an issue of fact whether the copyright owner formed a subjective good faith belief that the use was not authorized by law. Available theories of good faith belief are actual knowledge, and willful blindness. "Universal faces liability if it knowingly misrepresented in the takedown notification that it had formed a good faith belief the video was not authorized by the law, i.e. did not constitute fair use." A prevailing plaintiff in such a case is entitled to nominal damages. Ultimately, the 9th Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of the cross-motions for summary judgment, such that the case would proceed to trial on the issue of whether Universal had actual knowledge, and the amount of damages.