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Prince ‘dancing baby’ case could go to the U.S. Supreme Court

While Prince’s estate moves through probate court in Carver County, another legal case related to Prince — one that began long before his death — has been appealed all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices haven’t yet decided to hear the case, Billboard reports, but they’ve indicated their interest by requesting additional information from the government.

The case is known as the “dancing baby” case because it hinges on a YouTube video of a cute little baby dancing to “Let’s Go Crazy.” When the video was first posted in 2007, Universal Music ordered YouTube to take it down. The video’s creator — a woman named Stephanie Lenz, the baby’s mother — claimed that the video constituted fair use, and asked YouTube to put it back up. The video has remained online while a series of cases have made their way through the courts.

Prince’s position was clear: as stated in fall 2007, he wanted to “reclaim his art on the internet” and would be asking for the removal of all user-generated content involving his music. Do copyright owners have a leg to stand on, though, when it comes to a video like Lenz’s, which is clearly no substitute for a full recording of the song?

The outcome of this case could set a precedent for how all fair-use disputes are handled in the future: specifically, how high the burden of proof needs to be before a copyright holder can demand a takedown. The Supreme Court has now asked the U.S. Solicitor General to express the government’s position on the case, and will subsequently decide whether to hear the case.

Whether this will all be decided before the baby starts junior high remains to be seen.