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October 26, 2007

Why Does Prince Hate Cute Videos?

Awwww...look at the little baby dancing to the faint sounds of "Let's Go Crazy." Over 125,000 people have watched that video.

Unfortunately, one of them was Prince.

"Prince believes it is wrong for YouTube, or any user-generated site, to appropriate his music without his consent,'' the company said in a statement released to ABC News Thursday. "That position has nothing to do with any particular video that uses his songs. It's simply a matter of principle. And legally, he has the right to have his music removed. We support him and this important principle. That is why, over the last few months, we have asked YouTube to remove thousands of different videos that use Prince music without his permission."

A well-placed source directly involved in the situation confirmed to ABC News that Prince was directly involved in seeking the takedown of Lenz's video.

"This guy scours the Internet,'' the source said of the legendary artist, who once changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol and wrote the word "Slave'" on his cheek until he won back the rights to his music from another publishing company.

"He's really intense about this stuff," the source said, adding that Lenz's video "happened to be one of many'' that artist apparently located online and demanded be taken down.

Does this joker actually believe he is entitled to compensation for the use of 29 seconds of his song in a video in which the song can only be heard faintly? The good news is that Stephanie Lenz, the mother, got the EFF involved in this case, which has filed suit against Universal on her behalf.

This does present an interesting question about fair use and home videos. I think every parent takes videos of their child dancing to music, and we show them off to relatives so they can coo and compliment at the appropriate times (parents are demanding bastards this way). If I own the rights to that song, then playing it for my child to dance seems a pretty clear case of fair use, especially if I don't use a substantial portion of the created work.

Does my right to fair use change when I record the dancing? Does it change further when I make the video available to friends and family on a hosting platform such as YouTube? Given the shortness of these videos compared to the length of the songs, it seems a stretch for companies like Universal to claim copyright infringement. It's not as though I'm selling these videos or profiting from them at all.

If the RIAA wants to go after people for downloading pirated music, fine. There is no right to free music, and I think most people agree and sympathize with their plight. But it's when they start doing crap like this that my sympathy goes out the window - this is not piracy, there was no intent to violate copyright and it seems to me some common sense on the part of the industry and artists is warranted here.

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posted by Slublog at 10:35 AM

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