Frivilous DMCA Takedown Notices, Fair Use, and Good Faith at issue in New Lessig Lawsuit
On August 22, 2013, Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig filed a complaint against Australian record label Liberation Music in the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts. Professor Lessig alleges that Liberation Music is liable under Section 512(f), which creates a cause of action against a person who issues a takedown notice in which he or she knowingly misrepresents that a certain activity is infringing.
The complaint relates to a 2010 lecture in which Professor Lessig discussed cultural developments in the age of the Internet, including by showing clips of the “Lisztomania” copycat video phenomenon, which involved Internet users from around the world posting videos set to the song, “Lisztomania” by the French band “Phoenix”. He subsequently uploaded a video of the lecture, including the clips, to YouTube. Shortly thereafter, Liberation Music claimed that Professor Lessig was violating its copyright in the song and issued a takedown notice. YouTube disabled access to the video.
The complaint alleges that Professor Lessig’s use of the music video clips to describe a cultural phenomenon at an academic lecture was so clearly fair use that Liberation, in issuing the takedown notice, knowingly misrepresented that the lecture was a copyright infringement. Professor Lessig may not be the best person with whom to pick a fair use fight, seeing as he is founder of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society and its Fair Use Project.
More information is available on the EFF’s page here.