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One Mom vs. the Music Industry

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A YouTube video of a baby dancing to a Prince song was yanked for copyright infringement. Could your home video be next?


Everyone knows YouTube is the place for Moms to share cute kid videos with friends and family, but when a harmless video of Stephanie Lenz's kids dancing to "Let's Go Crazy" became target of the music industry, momlogic had to find out more.

Momlogic: Tell us what happened.
Stephanie: My kids like Prince's music, so I turned on "Let's Go Crazy," took a few seconds of them running around on video, and posted it on YouTube. About six months later, I received an email from YouTube saying my video had been flagged for content. Sure enough, I went on YouTube and realized my video had been suspended.

Momlogic: What was your reaction to the take-down notice?

Stephanie: Being able to share your videos online is like the new "brag book," but now we're being punished for using those resources? I don't want to have to second guess whether the character on my kid's shirt is OK for licensing reasons or that a particular toy is OK to include in a photo? You're fearful about every little thing, and it's a strange way to live or think.

I followed a case in the news where a woman was accused of downloading music.  She lost her house and went bankrupt. It scared me that I got this notice, and then it made me angry that I was scared because I knew I didn't do anything wrong. Universal Music Group believed I infringed on their copyrighted material, so they contacted YouTube and YouTube took the video down.

I spoke with lawyers at EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and decided to sue. They have a page on their Website devoted to my case. There needs to be some accountability for filing those false claims, and that's what my lawsuit is about. I wanted to fight back for all the moms, dads, grandparents, and people who could fall victim to this.

Momlogic: What should Moms know about posting video and photos online?

Stephanie: When it comes to toys, characters on clothing, and products, it's a trademark issue. I am aware of it because lately I have been questioning everything. I don't post videos online anymore. I haven't posted videos since I received the take-down notice. It's changed the way I use the Internet. I am still making videos, but I don't post them. When making them, I turn off the radio or TV and I pay attention to what's going on in the background instead of the foreground. The purpose of the video was to feature my kids, and now I am more concerned with what's going on in the background.

Don't lay music over the top of a video. There are sites like Electronic Frontier Foundation that answer questions if you're not sure. I have gotten responses from other parents who told me they have videos online with music, but they never received warnings or notices.

In building a sense of community that Moms are creating via the Internet, we need to be able to feel free to use the technology that's available to us -- be it posting videos, photos, or writing in blogs. As long as it's legal and safe, who is some record company to tell us to stop?

As this is a issue that concerns many Moms, we'll keep you posted on updates from Stephanie's case.  Do you think Stephanie's video was illegal? 

8 comments so far | Post a comment now
anon. January 22, 2010, 3:20 PM

She used copywrited material and posted it to a public forum that is notorious for suspending and deleting ALL videos that use copywrited material. She’s not being punished for using YouTube, she had her video removed at Prince’s request. There is no great injustice here, there is no need to sue. She made a mistake and should just accept it and move on. I mean, if someone took this video of her kids and did something else with it that she didn’t approve of, chances are good she’d want it removed. Should the person that manipulated the video of her kids have the right to sue her because the video was taken down? A double standard has evolved in the world when it comes to kids and it’s time there was an end put to it. We’re not special just because we had kids, we shouldn’t expect special treatment because of this.

Rob January 22, 2010, 3:21 PM

Copyright law is very clear on what constitutes Fair Use of copyrighted materials. Her video does not fit in any of the categories, and it was well within UMG’s purview to have the video pulled.

Laura January 22, 2010, 3:47 PM

I agree with the other commenters. Stephanie was clearly in the wrong here. YouTube is very up-front in their Terms of Service about what they will and will not allow on their site. She broke the rules and her account was treated in exactly the manner the TOS said it would be. It’s her own fault for breaking the rules and I hope her lawsuit gets tossed out for being a frivolous waste of time and resources.

Mew January 22, 2010, 4:47 PM

This woman needs to get her head out of her butt. Nobody but her wants to see her not-so-cute kids bobbing up and down to some crappy music. Just because you CAN upload something to the internet doesn’t mean you SHOULD. The people behind the music that was in the video wanted it taken down, so it was, and she needs to get over it. If she’s afraid of this problem again, the simple solution is to not post her kids on the internet. Sorry lady, but nobody wants to see your kids “dance” except for you.

Donna January 22, 2010, 6:37 PM

Gezze, entitled much? Oh boo hoo they took down my video!

You Tube is very specific in its rules: no copyrighted content without permission of the copyright holder. Just because it’s a video of your kid doesn’t make you exempt from the rules.

Sam January 22, 2010, 7:22 PM

Actually, I’m pretty upset about this. I didn’t even mind facebook taking down the boob shots, that had more merit than this. How petty is it to remove a video with music in the background of a video? As the lady said what if it is to the point of graphics on tees next? Or a particular car in a clip? Now if she was trying to show a video with the music added over it I wouldn’t be as bothered, that was ‘artificially’ added. I say make a fuss and embarass the comapany that made youtube remove this. Youtube was just following their request to prevent lawsuit from the label company. Instead get the word out about the label company’s pettiness. If their embarassed they might realize how silly this was. Honestly videos like this are free publicity but the label company are just wanting to throw their might around.

Sharkman January 24, 2010, 1:01 AM

WOW what an UGLY child.

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