Today, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that copyright holders must consider fair use before sending Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices in Lenz v. Universal. In a suit often called “the dancing baby case,” Universal Music sent a takedown notice to YouTube claiming that Stephanie Lenz’s home video featuring her toddler dancing to a Prince song violated copyright.

The following may be attributed to Sherwin Siy, Vice President of Legal Affairs for Public Knowledge:

“We’re extremely glad to see the appeals court uphold the idea that video creators and other uploaders can sue if their works are removed due to bogus or frivolous takedown notices. This means that rights holders sending notices need to actually ensure their takedown notices are not directed at fair uses, and that they face real legal consequences if they are.

“While we had hoped that the case could have provided a much clearer path for attacking bogus takedown notices, the decision still means that fair use cannot be ignored, and that the takedown process is not meant to be a one-sided affair.

“The court also makes it abundantly clear that fair use is not a mere excuse for infringing conduct — if a use is fair, it is not an infringement. That basic fact is one that keeps copyright law aligned with freedom of speech, and is always worth reiterating.”

Public Knowledge joined an amicus brief with the Organization for Transformative Works and the International Documentary Association supporting Lenz in this case.