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Lenz v. Universal Music Corporation

No. C 07-03783 JF (PVT) (2010)

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Lenz v. Universal Music Corporation

United States District Court for the Northern District of California

No. C 07-03783 JF (PVT) (2010)

Facts

Stephanie Lenz (plaintiff) posted a video on YouTube of her son dancing to a Prince song. Universal Music Corporation (Universal) (defendant) notified YouTube that Lenz had infringed Universal’s copyright, and YouTube removed the video. Lenz sued Universal and its subsidiaries on the grounds that the video was non-infringing fair use and that Universal had harmed her right to free speech and freedom of self-expression. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) represented Lenz. During the discovery phase, Universal sought communications between Lenz and her attorneys, which Lenz claimed were protected by the attorney-client privilege. Universal filed a motion to compel production of the information in question, arguing that Lenz had waived the attorney-client privilege concerning three groups of information: (1) Lenz’s motive for filing suit, which Lenz discussed in emails she sent to friends and family and on her blog; (2) EFF’s legal strategy, which Lenz discussed with online friends, and the communications about which Lenz argued were analogous to telling a friend that Lenz hired an attorney; and (3) specific factual allegations that Lenz had disclosed to friends, including that Prince was the villain in the case, Prince was targeting everyone, and Prince wanted to litigate rather than settle. Lenz also disclosed on her blog that her case was not a fair-use case, contradicting the allegations in the lawsuit. The trial court heard the parties’ arguments on the motion.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Trumbull, J.)

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