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Big Up the Power Mum Who Fought Universal so Her Baby Could Dance to Prince on YouTube

The major label's demands for her to remove her video backfired in court, and her victory has changed music copyright law.
Emma Garland
London, GB

"Let's Go Crazy #1" is a 29 second video of a baby (and less adorable slightly older child) going HAM in their kitchen to Prince's "Let's Go Crazy", playing over a stereo. What could be better?

Any reasonable person would take one look at this and think, "Man, look how happy the opening track to Prince's seminal album Purple Rain is making this kid. I wish I liked anything as much as this kid likes Prince. Allow it." Unfortunately, Universal Music took one look at it and said, "Excuse me, baby, but if you're going to take some enjoyment from music we own then please do it in the privacy of your own home where nobody else can enjoy you enjoying it because we hate that. Joy is a commodity, see."


So Universal Music Corp, which was hired to enforce Prince’s copyrights, issued a takedown order. When a copyright-holder tells a website like YouTube that one of its postings violates the holder’s exclusive rights to license the material, federal law requires that the posting be removed immediately - but the mum who shot the video, whose real name is Stephanie Lenz but for the purposes of this article we'll call Super Copyright Lawsuit Mum, wasn't having any of it. And now, after years of fighting, the whole thing has massively backfired on Universal.

Yesterday a federal appeals court ruled in favour of Super Copyright Lawsuit Mum, and used the case to make it harder for copyright-holders to act against brief, non-commercial uses of their material. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the copyright-holder - in this case Universal Music - must first consider whether such a video amounts to “fair use” of the work, making it eligible to be legally posted. Fair use includes journalistic accounts and criticism, educational uses for teaching or research, and brief, private postings that don’t damage the commercial market for the work - in this case, a baby bouncing around to half a minute of a Prince song, experiencing a glee known only to humans who can shit their pants in Starbucks and make everyone go, "Awwww".

The new law “requires copyright-holders to consider fair use before sending a takedown notification,” and those that fail to do so can be held liable for damages. Copyright Lawsuit Super Mum argued there were no grounds for the removal and sued the company under a law allowing damages for mistaken or wrongful denial of access to a posting or publication. By winning her case, she's single-handedly laid a righteous smackdown on the largest music corporation in the world.


In doing so, she's also radically altered an area of music copyright law for the better. Prior to this, there had been numerous cases of normal people being wrist slapped by huge corporations for fairly meaningless uses of music, like when someone uploaded an hour long video of their cat snoring to YouTube and it was automatically flagged up part of the loop as an infringement of the musical composition “Focus”, belonging to EMI Music. The video was issued a warning and monetization was disabled, technically making it the first case of "pirate purring" ever recorded. Thanks to Super Copyright Lawsuit Mum, people can't be this recklessly targeted anymore.

Thanks to one badass mother determined to teach one of the last remaining "big labels" a lesson, record companies will now be forced to think twice before they slap copyright cases on normal people just trying to live their lives and have a laugh with their pets and children on video platforms like YouTube, Vine, or Instagram.

Super Copyright Lawsuit Mum is the ultimate mixture of internet culture and traditional parental righteousness. She is a hero for our times. Watch her video below BECAUSE YOU TOTALLY 100% CAN NOW.

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