When YouTubers Cry: Prince Concert Videos Deemed Not Fair Use

January 10, 2020
Post by Nicholas J. Krob

Last week, U.S. District Judge Leo T. Sorokin granted summary judgment in favor of the estate of the late artist Prince regarding its claim of copyright infringement against Kian Andrew Habib, who had previously posted six Prince concert videos to his YouTube channel. In doing so, Judge Sorokin rejected Habib’s fair use defense, claiming Habib’s arguments had “miss[ed] the mark.”

Perhaps the only thing less surprising than the Prince estate filing a lawsuit against someone posting videos on YouTube in the first place is the fact that a YouTube user misunderstands copyright law and the defense of fair use specifically.

In response to the Prince estate’s motion for summary judgment, Habib claimed the concert videos he had taken and posted to YouTube constituted fair use because they were transformative in nature (in that he had chosen the vantage point from which to film and alternated between shots of the stage and shots of the crowd) and noncommercial (in that he did not seek to make money by posting them). However, Judge Sorokin explained that Habib did not “imbue Prince’s musical compositions with new meaning or add any of his own expression to the underlying works” so as to render the videos transformative. Additionally, he noted that Habib was looking to drive traffic to his YouTube channel by posting and promoting these videos, even if there was no money involved.

Despite, in Judge Sorokin’s words, “misunderstand[ing] both the nature and scope of copyright protection for musical compositions,” Habib claims this case “highlights a legal deficiency” and is now seeking “vindication at the highest-level appeals court.” In other words, it appears Habib is taking Prince’s 1984 hit “Let’s Go Crazy” to heart.

Post Categories

Comments (0)
Post a Comment

Captcha Image
Return to the Filewrapper Blog

Search Posts


The attorneys of McKee, Voorhees & Sease, P.L.C. designed this blog as an informational and educational resource about intellectual property law for our clients, other attorneys, and the public as a whole. Our goal is to provide cutting-edge information about recent developments in intellectual property law, including relevant case law updates, proposed legislation, and intellectual property law in the news.


McKee, Voorhees & Sease, P.L.C. provides this blog for general informational purposes only. By using this blog, you agree that the information on this blog does not constitute legal or other professional advice and no attorney-client or other relationship is created between you and McKee, Voorhees & Sease, P.L.C. Do not consider this blog to be a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified, licensed attorney. While we try to revise this blog on a regular basis, it may not reflect the most current legal developments. We consciously refrain from expressing opinions on this blog and instead, offer it as a form of information and education, however if there appears an expression of opinion, realize that those views are indicative of the individual and not of the firm as a whole.

Connect with MVS

Enter your name and email address to recieve the latest news and updates from us and our attorneys.

Subscribe to: MVS Newsletter

Subscribe to: Filewrapper® Blog Updates

  I have read and agree to the terms and conditions of McKee, Voorhees & Sease, P.L.C.