The issue of music on youtube that can thus be easily accessed with access to a basic Internet browser has exercised the music industry and its artists as a major threat to their ability to control and profit from the dissemination of their songs. In return, advocates for the broad body of legal doctrines governing copyright enforcement referred to as “fair use” have claimed that record industry legal measures are unnecessarily and indiscriminately punitive, engineered less to protect the fortunes and artistic pursuits of musicians than to drive a wedge in popular music between its professional base and its constituency of fans. In reference to the issue of youtube music, much attention was brought to it by the legal case of Lenz v.
Universal Music Corp., which also brought for one of the first time a considered legal decision to bear on the issues raised in connection to music on youtube. This case ended with the decision in reference to the posting of music on youtube that fair use doctrines should be taken into consideration by copyright holders before the issuing of injunctions in reference to youtube music.
The causes for this suit originally arose in reference to one Stephanie Lenz, a California resident. In February 2007 Lenz posted a video on YouTube of her children dancing to Prince’s song “Let’s Go Crazy.” The video lasted twenty-nine seconds and contained about twenty seconds of the song, with only poor audio quality. In June of that year, the song’s copyright holder, Universal Music Corp. issued a takedown notice related to this occurrence of youtube music instructing YouTube to remove Stephanie Lenz’s video from its online archive of files. Later that month Lenz responded with a counter-notification to YouTube that claimed the applicability of fair use doctrines in regard to copyrighted materials in this instance of music on youtube and requested that the video be placed on the site again, which in six weeks YouTube had complied with. In July 2007 Lenz filed suit against Universal Music Corp. in regards to misrepresentation, seeking to elicit from the court a declaration that her act of posting music on youtube without either hopes of monetary profit to herself or conceivable financial damage to the copyright holder had not infringed on any laws against youtube music.
Further statements as regarding this issue of youtube music behavior were issued by Prince in September of that year, declaring his intention to “reclaim his art on the internet,” and Universal Music Corp. in an October 2007 statement to the effect that they intended to remove all material derived from artwork originally copyrighted by Prince that had been posted on the Internet, whether in the form of music on youtube or otherwise. In making her case, Lenz argued that the artist and the record company were acting in bad faith by taking a blanket approach to any kind of material connected to Prince, rather than considering context and intention, which convinced the District Court of Northern California.