Washington DC
21 June 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Dancing Baby will be neither seen nor heard

The US Supreme Court will not hear the ‘Dancing Baby’ copyright infringement case, following advice from the acting US solicitor general Jeffrey Wall.

The case between Stephanie Lenz and Universal Music Corp focuses on the 29 second ‘Dancing Baby’ YouTube video, which featured Lenz’s toddler son dancing to Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy.

Universal sent a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice to YouTube, claiming Lenz had committed copyright infringement. The Electronic Frontier Foundation took the case on behalf of Lenz and sued Universal, claiming improper use of the DMCA.

Last year, the Supreme Court asked the US to file an amicus brief expressing its views on the case, after multiple interested parties weighed in.

In May, Wall argued: “Even if a question concerning the mental state required for DMCA liability otherwise warranted this court’s review, this case would not be an appropriate vehicle in which to consider it.”

The Supreme Court, seemingly in agreement, has denied certiorari.

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sided with Lenz in 2015, ruling that the video fell under the fair use exemption of the DMCA, but advocated for Universal’s right to send false infringement notices, as long as they subjectively believed the material they targeted was infringing.

EFF petitioned the Supreme Court to “ensure that copyright holders who make unreasonable infringement claims can be held accountable if those claims force lawful speech offline”.

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