How could this incredibly cute YouTube video land a family in court? When it becomes the subject of a copyright battle. For those hard hearted souls who did not click on the link, the video shows a baby boy sitting in the bathtub splashing the pet dachshund, who keeps sticking its nose over the edge of the tub. The baby boy laughs heartily the entire time. It is adorable. And I don’t use that word very easily, if ever.

Ashley Candler, the boy’s mom, apparently shot the video and uploaded it to YouTube. And not long after that, the laughter stopped. It seems that a woman named Shannon Carter uploaded the video to a separate YouTube channel, claiming not only that she owned the copyright, but that she was the baby’s aunt. Her channel is supported by advertising, which means she makes some money every time someone views it. To date, the video on Carter’s YouTube channel has been viewed nearly 70 million times. 

Candler filed a lawsuit in a California federal court claiming that Carter infringed Candler’s copyright in the video. According to the complaint, Candler notified YouTube about the alleged infringement, and the video came down temporarily. But Carter apparently provided a counter notice, stating under penalty of perjury that she owned the copyright. 

According to Candler, though, there is no way that Carter could have possibly believed she owned the copyright, since she was not the one who shot the video.

Interesting case. If Candler is telling the truth, it sounds like Carter is a compulsive liar. But the case illustrates an important point that bears repeating. A person doesn’t lose copyright protection by posting a video to YouTube. While YouTube gets a license in the video, no one else does. And while it may seem a little counter intuitive that a person can make a video freely available to the world, but still be able to sue someone for re-posting it, that is the law. And if the unauthorized user makes money off of the content, it makes the copyright owner’s case that much stronger.