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Lessig challenges DMCA takedown notice

Know your enemy. Did Australian company record company Liberation Music bear this advice in mind when it requested that YouTube block the video of a lecture titled “Open” given by Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig?

Yesterday Lessig – a well-known political activist and critic of the copyright systemretaliated, asking the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts to grant declaratory judgment, injunctive relief and damages. He is represented by lawyers from the law firm Jones Day and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The dispute concerns a lecture Lessig gave at a Creative Commons conference in Seoul, Korea in June 2010. The lecture included several clips of amateur music videos to illustrate cultural developments in the age of the internet.

The clips included groups of people dancing to the song “Lisztomania” by the band Phoenix, which is represented by Liberation Music. Lessig claims his use of the clips is permitted under the fair use doctrine and does not infringe copyright.

In June 2013, a video of the lecture was posted on YouTube. On June 30, Lessig received a notice from YouTube saying the video of his lecture had been blocked under its filtering procedures as it included content owned or licensed by Viacom (the notice, included in the court documents, was addressed “Dear lessig”).

It is believed that Liberation Music sought to block the video at about the same time.

When Lessig disputed the block, Liberation Music issued a DMCA takedown notice, demanding the removal of the video. When Lessig submitted a counter-notice, Liberation Music emailed him threatening legal proceedings within 72 hours and he retracted his counter-notice.

Lessig’s suit seeks a declaration that the video of the lecture is protected by the fair use doctrine and does not infringe copyright as well as an order enjoining Liberation from asserting a copyright claim against him. He is also seeking damages, costs and other just relief.

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