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Thursday, December 7, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, December 7, 2023 | Back issues
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Copyright Claim Got Run Over By a Federal Judge

SAN JOSE (CN) - In a copyright dispute over online copies of "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer," a federal judge sided with a Canadian man who posted a video of the song on YouTube.

Elmo Shropshire, who goes by the stage name of Dr. Elmo, is famous for his performance with Patsy Trigg of the 1979 holiday tune, which he co-owns with a publishing company.

Aubrey Canning Jr. posted a video of "Grandma" on video-sharing website YouTube. The post combined Shropshire's version with pictures of reindeer and audio from the Irish Rovers' performance of the song.

Shropshire says he sent Canning an e-mail in December 2009, informing the Youtube user that the video violated Shopshire's copyright and requesting that he remove it.

When Canning did not comply, Shropshire filed a "copyright infringement notification" with YouTube, which removed the video. After Canning filed a counter-notice stating that he believed his video constituted fair use, Youtube reinstated the video on January 4, 2010.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh disagreed with Shropshire's argument that Canning committed copyright infringement within the United States by posting the video on the Mountain View, Calif.-based website.

"It may be possible" for Shropshire to prove that some kind of infringement occurred entirely within the U.S., Koh added.

The judge also dismissed Shropshire's claim that Canning had filed a false counter-notice with YouTube, finding he failed to point out any specific misrepresentation Canning allegedly made.

"Defendant did not claim to have specific rights to the musical composition for 'Grandma,' nor did defendant claim that he had permission from the copyright owners to use 'Grandma,'" Koh wrote. "Rather, defendant only stated that he believed his video was 'fair use' and that he had 'a good faith belief the material was removed due to a mistake or misidentification of the material removed or disabled.'

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