Another 512(f) Claim Fails–Moonbug v. Babybus

Moonbug runs the CoComelon channel, the top-ranked Kids YouTube channel. Babybus runs a competitive channel that Moonbug believes infringes its copyrights. An example:

Moonbug submitted takedown notices to YouTube covering at least 70 videos and sued Babybus for copyright infringement. Babybus counterclaimed for 512(f). The court dismisses Bbybus’ counterclaims.

Material Misrepresentations. “Moonbug’s DMCA notices to YouTube were accompanied by a 17-page letter along with 80-pages of exhibits providing a detailed list of infringed works, references to at least four additional copyright registrations, and analysis and examples of copying, including allegations of frame-by-frame copying, near-identical thumbnail art, copying of two series of original songs (including the same titles, melodies, lyrics and stories), and ‘copying of the plot, setting, pace and sequence of events of other CoComelon videos.'”

With respect to whether Babybus’ baby character infringed Moonbug’s baby, Babybus claimed that the alleged copying related to generic features found in nature. The court says:

As Moonbug extensively alleged in its letter to YouTube accompanying its DMCA notices, its infringement allegations did not simply target JoJo’s large head, positivity and curiosity or family structure. Rather, it examined Babybus’s duplication of a wide collection of features of the CoComelon characters and videos, as well as other recognizable features of the CoComelon franchise such as conceptual qualities like family dynamics, character animation styles and movement, and video plots, pace, themes, moods, and settings, as visible from screenshots and videos

Also, Babybus “removed from public view over 100 of its allegedly infringing videos within one day of Moonbug filing notices and accompanying letter with YouTube.”

Subjective Bad Faith. “Plaintiff’s takedown letters and supporting document establish facially plausible claims of infringement, and Babybus does not allege a plausible basis for a fair use defense.”

In response to allegations that Moonbug was trying to weaponize YouTube’s strike system, the court says: “§ 512(f) protects against bad-faith misrepresentations of copyright infringement not against a desire to see negative downstream consequences from properly-filed claims of copyright infringement.”

Even though knockoff cases usually pose a risk of overclaiming, Babybus’ 512(f) claims looked harder to justify than the normal 512(f) cases I see due to Moonbug’s careful preparation of the takedown notices.

Case citation: Moonbug Entertainment Ltd. v. Babybus (Fujian) Network Technology Co., 2022 WL 580788 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 25, 2022)

MAY 2024 UPDATE: The jury found that BabyBus’ counternotice violated 512(f) and awarded $10,000 in damages. The jury also awarded Moonbug $17M+ for copyright infringement. Moonbug Entertainment Ltd v. Babybus (Fujian) Network Technology Co., 2024 WL 2193323 (N.D. Cal. May 15, 2024).

Prior Posts on Section 512(f)

* A 512(f) Plaintiff Wins at Trial! 👀–Alper Automotive v. Day to Day Imports
Satirical Depiction in YouTube Video Gets Rough Treatment in Court
512(f) Preempts Tortious Interference Claim–Copy Me That v. This Old Gal
512(f) Claim Against Robo-Notice Sender Can Proceed–Enttech v. Okularity
Copyright Plaintiffs Can’t Figure Out What Copyrights They Own, Court Says ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
A 512(f) Case Leads to a Rare Damages Award (on a Default Judgment)–California Beach v. Du
512(f) Claim Survives Motion to Dismiss–Brandyn Love v. Nuclear Blast America
512(f) Claim Fails in the 11th Circuit–Johnson v. New Destiny Christian Center
Court Orders Rightsowner to Withdraw DMCA Takedown Notices Sent to Amazon–Beyond Blond v. Heldman
Another 512(f) Claim Fails–Ningbo Mizhihe v Doe
Video Excerpts Qualify as Fair Use (and Another 512(f) Claim Fails)–Hughes v. Benjamin
How Have Section 512(f) Cases Fared Since 2017? (Spoiler: Not Well)
Another Section 512(f) Case Fails–ISE v. Longarzo
Another 512(f) Case Fails–Handshoe v. Perret
* A DMCA Section 512(f) Case Survives Dismissal–ISE v. Longarzo
DMCA’s Unhelpful 512(f) Preempts Helpful State Law Claims–Stevens v. Vodka and Milk
Section 512(f) Complaint Survives Motion to Dismiss–Johnson v. New Destiny Church
‘Reaction’ Video Protected By Fair Use–Hosseinzadeh v. Klein
9th Circuit Sides With Fair Use in Dancing Baby Takedown Case–Lenz v. Universal
Two 512(f) Rulings Where The Litigants Dispute Copyright Ownership
It Takes a Default Judgment to Win a 17 USC 512(f) Case–Automattic v. Steiner
Vague Takedown Notice Targeting Facebook Page Results in Possible Liability–CrossFit v. Alvies
Another 512(f) Claim Fails–Tuteur v. Crosley-Corcoran
17 USC 512(f) Is Dead–Lenz v. Universal Music
512(f) Plaintiff Can’t Get Discovery to Back Up His Allegations of Bogus Takedowns–Ouellette v. Viacom
Updates on Transborder Copyright Enforcement Over “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”–Shropshire v. Canning
17 USC 512(f) Preempts State Law Claims Over Bogus Copyright Takedown Notices–Amaretto v. Ozimals
17 USC 512(f) Claim Against “Twilight” Studio Survives Motion to Dismiss–Smith v. Summit Entertainment
Cease & Desist Letter to iTunes Isn’t Covered by 17 USC 512(f)–Red Rock v. UMG
Copyright Takedown Notice Isn’t Actionable Unless There’s an Actual Takedown–Amaretto v. Ozimals
Second Life Ordered to Stop Honoring a Copyright Owner’s Takedown Notices–Amaretto Ranch Breedables v. Ozimals
Another Copyright Owner Sent a Defective Takedown Notice and Faced 512(f) Liability–Rosen v. HSI
Furniture Retailer Enjoined from Sending eBay VeRO Notices–Design Furnishings v. Zen Path
Disclosure of the Substance of Privileged Communications via Email, Blog, and Chat Results in Waiver — Lenz v. Universal
YouTube Uploader Can’t Sue Sender of Mistaken Takedown Notice–Cabell v. Zimmerman
Rare Ruling on Damages for Sending Bogus Copyright Takedown Notice–Lenz v. Universal
512(f) Claim Dismissed on Jurisdictional Grounds–Project DoD v. Federici
Biosafe-One v. Hawks Dismissed
Michael Savage Takedown Letter Might Violate 512(f)–Brave New Media v. Weiner
Fair Use – It’s the Law (for what it’s worth)–Lenz v. Universal
Copyright Owner Enjoined from Sending DMCA Takedown Notices–Biosafe-One v. Hawks
New(ish) Report on 512 Takedown Notices
Can 512(f) Support an Injunction? Novotny v. Chapman
Allegedly Wrong VeRO Notice of Claimed Infringement Not Actionable–Dudnikov v. MGA Entertainment