The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has stepped in on behalf of an amateur video maker in a copyright case involving a popular line dance.
The legal advocacy and defence group alleges that a choreographer is making "absurd" copyright claims against people he claims are incorrectly performing a dance he invented.
The case centres on the removal of a video posted on YouTube by amateur video maker Kyle Machulis.
The five-minute video shows a musical performance by techno band Sublevel 3 at the 2007 Further Confusion conference, a yearly "furry" convention sponsored by the Anthropomorphic Arts Education Foundation.
Machulis filmed the band and the audience, including a couple who performed a line dance known as The Electric Slide.
When choreographer Richard Silver saw the video, he filed a copyright violation notice with YouTube. The video was removed and a notice was sent to Machulis.
According to the EFF, the copyright claims were being made to prevent the spread of incorrect variations of the dance.
The choreographer displays the original directions for the dance on his Electric Slide website, along with two videos demonstrating the dance and a 2004 copyright granted for the dance.
The EFF contends that Machulis's footage falls under the protection of fair use laws which allow for the limited use of copyrighted work in certain situations, such as non-commercial or educational broadcasts.
Furthermore, the EFF said that it is not clear whether Silver can actually own the copyright to a dance move.
As part of the legal claim filed against Silver on behalf of Machulis, the EFF alleges that the dance steps cannot be copyrighted and that, even if they could, Silver did not properly apply for the copyright.
Even if Silver's copyright claim is upheld, the EFF is confident that it will prevail.
"Silver's claim of copyright infringement is absurd and is a classic example of the kind of Digital Millennium Copyright Act abuse that can chill internet speech," said EFF attorney Corynne McSherry.
"Even if Silver had a valid copyright in the dance, which is not at all clear, this is fair use and not infringing."
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