We had mentioned in our post about Universal Music sending bogus DMCA takedowns over Lauren LoPrete’s This Charming Charlie tumblr mashup, that LoPrete had been contacted by various copyright and internet free speech lawyers offering to represent her. It appears that among the lawyers reaching out to her were the good folks at Booth Sweet — whom we’ve covered many times for their efforts to fight copyright trolls and other bogus threats — have taken on her case. Lawyer Dan Booth has sent a short and simple counternotice to Tumblr, arguing that the strips that were taken down were covered by fair use.
So much to answer for! Yet our client believes in good faith that these three posts, like all posts on her charming website, do not infringe the copyright for any Smiths lyrics, as they constitute fair use in accordance with 17 U.S.C. § 107. The three contested posts are JPEGs (attached for your reference) that quote from songs by the Smiths, namely “Ask” (a seven-word quote: “Nature is a language, can’t you read?”); “This Charming Man” (eight words: “Will nature make a man of me yet?”); and “Frankly, Mr. Shankly” (twelve words: “Sometimes I’d feel more fulfilled making Christmas cards with the mentally ill”). Those brief excerpts are used to transformative effect, as you see. They also have no commercial purpose, and cannot have any negative effect on the market for the original works. As a result, the takedown notices are erroneous. We look forward to the prompt reinstatement of the posts pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 512 (g)(3).
And now we wait to see if Universal Music decides to sue. Doubtful, but you never know with the big labels and their itchy trigger finger lawyers.