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Hosseinzadeh v. Klein - 276 F. Supp. 3d 34 (S.D.N.Y. 2017)

Rule:

Fair use is an affirmative defense to copyright infringement. 

Facts:

Plaintiff Matt Hosseinzadeh was a filmmaker who posted original video content on YouTube. Defendants Ethan and Hila Klein created a video where they commented on and criticized Hosseinzadeh's copyrighted video ("Hoss video"). The Kleins' criticism and commentary were interwoven with clips from the Hoss video. Hosseinzadeh filed a complaint in federal district court alleging that the Kleins infringed Hosseinzadeh's copyrights, made misrepresentations in a counter-takedown notice in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") and defamed him. Both parties filed motions for summary judgment.

Issue:

Can a critical commentary on a creative video posted on YouTube constitute copyright infringement?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Klein's motion for summary judgment was granted by the court. The court held that irrespective of whether one found it necessary, accurate, or well-executed, the Klein video was nonetheless criticism and commentary on the Hoss video. The court reiterated that fair use was an affirmative defense to copyright infringement and commentary and criticism could fall under the fair use doctrine. The court further held that because the Klein video constituted fair use and did not infringe Hosseinzadeh's copyrights, Hosseinzadeh's claim that the Klein's made misrepresentations in their DMCA counter notification had to be dismissed. Finally, the court ruled, dismissal of the defamation claim was warranted because the alleged defamatory statements identified by Hosseinzadeh were either non-actionable opinions or substantially true as a matter of law.

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