When Larry Lessig used a clip from "Lisztomania" by the French band Phoenix in a lecture, he was pretty sure that it was fair use — after all, he's written several books on copyright and teaches at Harvard Law. But Liberation Music, who claim the license to the song, had the video of Lessig's lecture removed from YouTube several times, and threatened Lessig with a lawsuit for sending counter-claims asserting that he was in the right. So now, Lessig and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are suing Liberation Music and plan on making some good fair use caselaw. Fair use caselaw is in short supply, because most claims are settled out of court, but I have a feeling this one is going to go all the way.
Earlier this year, Liberation Music, which claims to own the license to the Phoenix song, began the process to block the video through YouTube's copyright infringement system. After the company submitted a DMCA takedown notice, Lessig filed a counter-notice that asserted the clips were fair use. After Liberation Music threatened to sue Lessig, he retracted the notice. But Lessig did not concede this issue. Instead, he enlisted EFF's help to take Liberation Music to court.
"There's a long and sorry history of content owners abusing copyright to take down fair uses, but this one is particularly shocking," said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. "Based on nothing more than a few clips illustrating Internet creativity, Liberation Music took down an entire lecture by one of the leading experts in the world on copyright and fair use. This kind of abuse has to stop."