And the little guy scores two today: Universal may have to pay for bogus DMCA takedown over “Dancing Baby Video”.

by Mike
Posted March 1st, 2010 at 8:57 pm

So often we see big corporations (namely labels and so called IP owners) over uses of their property being misused. There are actual cases where infringement has occurred and as such, warrants a courtroom visit. All too often however we see companies with too much time on their hands and deep pockets that apparently hold the little common sense they own blatantly (and falsely) issuing DMCA takedowns for every little thing. The funny thing is, when actual infringement has been proven not to have taken place and instead highlighted a very gross negligence by the big corps involved, the system as a whole doesn’t even so much as blink an eye. If the claimed guilty had actually been ruled “guilty”, a very different story would have unfolded.

The gem in it all is that within the DMCA loopholes and legal jargon is a little clause that gives end users the ability to defend themselves and even counter DMCA takedowns and lawsuits with their own lawsuit of “knowingly filing a false DMCA takedown notice” (words may vary). Unfortunately, so far there have been little if any such claims made by “the little guys of the world” (or at least none that have received any media attention).

Today seems to be a day for the little guy though. First there was Senator Herb Kohl standing up for the disservice NBC has bestowed upon Americans for the last two weeks, and now there is this — Universal having to actually pay up for bogus DMCA takedowns in relation to the whole Dancing Baby saga.

If you are finding yourself slightly out of the loop on this one, the “Dancing Baby Video” was hardly a case of infringement as it featured a baby dancing to a Prince song. Simple. Harmless. Cute. End of story. Universal felt differently. Because they can’t spur sales and interest in their own content by themselves, they figured they’d issue a DMCA takedown as it infringed on intellectual property (because someone is really going to avoid purchasing a Prince single or album and instead get their fix from the dancing baby video.) Can you now begin to understand why major labels are in the trouble they find themselves in these days?

Anyway, back to the point. After the DMCA takedown was issued in 2008, the EFF sued Universal for failing to actually consider if there was really anything infringing or not before filing the takedown notice. As again, all too often these major labels and big corporations sue/issue DMCA takedown first and “oops, our bad” later. In the case of the Dancing Baby debacle, it appears that Universal will see the courtroom as a district judge in California has granted the defendants request for trial.

Any real damages sought by “the little guy” in this case would probably be limited to court costs and at most a small take home check as actual damages to the end user are next to nothing. Regardless of the outcome however, even if Universal doesn’t have to pay a cent, it’s nice to see that at least *one* judge in a country full of technologically incompetent old farts has the common sense to push back to big corps and actually use their head rather than their pockets.

So let’s here it for the little guy/consumer as we have not one, but two things to talk about today…

For your viewing pleasure, the Dancing Baby video that started it all:


[Image Source 1] [Image Source 2]

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