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We may be about to learn exactly what goes through Prince’s head as he trolls YouTube and spots a toddler dancing to his song “Let’s Go Crazy.”
U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel has overruled an objection and ordered Universal Music to turn over dozens of communications with Prince on matters relating to alleged copyright infringements on YouTube. The ruling comes in the discovery portion of a lawsuit filed by Stephanie Lenz against Universal for sending a meritless takedown request.
In 2007, at the supposed urging of Prince, Universal fired off a letter demanding the video-sharing website remove a 29-second clip of Lenz’ son dancing to a Prince song. In a larger effort to show media companies it was serious about fighting copyright infringement, YouTube complied.
Lenz fought back with a lawsuit and got Judge Fogel to issue an attention-grabbing decision that copyright holders must consider “fair use” before sending takedown notices. Lenz has continued to seek damages against Universal, and to win, she’ll need to show Universal knowingly misrepresented material or activity as infringing the DMCA. She therefore wants to hear conversations between Prince and Universal.
Universal attempted an interesting roadblock. The company admitted it is not Prince’s attorney but that its in-house counsel were involved tangentially in the conversations, so the material should be protected by attorney-client privilege, common-interest privilege, and the work-product doctrine.
“The fact that the communications are related to information provided to or by attorneys who work for Universal does not in itself make the communications privileged,” writes Judge Fogel in his ruling, adding the company waived work product doctrine protection because it didn’t raise the objection in a timely fashion.
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