Liberation Music Sued a Harvard Law Professor... Guess What Happened Next

Lisztomania
Courtesy of YouTube

Fair use, we promise!

Would you take a Harvard Law professor to court? Better yet, would you take on a legal expert who specializes in copyright law for violating copyright? Yeah, doesn’t seem like a good idea.

Well, Liberation Music—a music label that oversees the French band Phoenix among others—did. And guess what? They lost.

If you haven’t heard of Law professor Lawrence Lessig, he is kind of a big deal, especially when it comes to Copyright Law. Before coming to the Law School, Lessig founded the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School and also serves as a founding board member of Creative Commons, a non-profit that seeks to build the range of creative works people can legally share.

After Lessig used Phoenix’s song, “Liztomania,” as the backing track to a video that he posted on YouTube for a lecture, Liberation Music asked YouTube to remove the content. The video was taken down, but Lessig responded with a counter-notice that demanded the video be reposted, citing the video as a clear example of “fair use,” which is legal jargon for “I know more than you about copyright law.”

But get this: Liberation Music responded with, “nah.”

And in the least surprising move of the century, Lessig and the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued.

Suddenly, Liberation Music backtracked, or maybe they just discovered their understanding of law was lacking. The label settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. It’s unclear if these type of rivalries make it onto Las Vegas’ betting boards, but did Liberation Music really believe they even had a chance? This had to be a publicity stunt, right?

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