Harvard professor fights back against copyright lawsuit

August 27, 2013 2:40 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

When Harvard legal professor Lawrence Lessig added some music and dance video excerpts to his online lectures, he was just trying to find ways to keep his students engaged. He did not expect to become involved in an actual legal battle.

But that's exactly what happened when Liberation Music, an Australian record company, got wind that Lessig had used the 2009 song "Lisztomania" by the French band Phoenix in one of his lecture videos, which are posted on YouTube.

According to the Boston Globe, Liberation Music is accusing Lessig of copyright infringement. But the Harvard professor was quick to fight back, and filed his own lawsuit in a Massachusetts federal court claiming that the company is abusing copyright law and violating his free speech rights.

Though Liberation Music owns the rights to "Lisztomania," Lessig argues that his use of the song in his video was protected under the fair-use doctrine. He is reportedly seeking damages to cover his legal fees and other financial losses.

The Globe reported that Lessig is working with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a San Francisco nonprofit that specializes in digital rights. 

"Excessive copyright enforcement can suppress free speech," said Daniel Nazer, an EFF attorney. "All the copyright holder has to do is send a quick e-mail [to YouTube], and they can get things taken off the Internet, whether it's fair use or not."

Individuals and businesses should use this story as an example of how they can fight back against aggressive copyright holders. In these instances, a Phoenix business attorney can help.

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