US singer and musician Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson) performs on stage at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris, on June 30, 2011.
Photograph by Bertrand Guay — AFP/Getty Images
By Claire Groden
September 15, 2015

A U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled on Monday that copyright holders must consider fair use before attempting to take down media, like YouTube videos, that use their material.

The decision comes after eight years of legal wrangling in a case colloquially known as the “dancing baby” suit, according to The New York Times. That suit began when a Pennsylvania mother, Stephanie Lenz, posted a short YouTube clip of her baby dancing to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy”–a song for which Universal Music Group is responsible for copyright enforcement. Universal sent YouTube a takedown notice, but Lenz, with the help of the advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation, sued the company for the takedown.

The appeals court cleared the suit to advance to trial, while issuing a blow to Universal and other copyright holders. By requiring them to consider fair use, the judge ruled that companies first must determine if the use of the material falls under exception categories like commentary, criticism or news reporting before sending a takedown notice.

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