Suit Settled Over Political Parody

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by IJ Reilly, Aug 26, 2004.

  1. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    Posted with no comment (for now!).

    Creators of a Web cartoon that uses a Woody Guthrie classic may proceed in a pact with Ludlow Music.

    From Associated Press

    August 26, 2004

    This song is my song, this song is your song.

    That's the agreement reached between the publishers of Woody Guthrie's classic "This Land Is Your Land" and Santa Monica-based JibJab Media, creators of an animated Internet short that uses the tune in a comic send-up of President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential campaign.

    Ludlow Music, the song's publisher, agreed in a settlement Tuesday to allow the cartoon — one of the biggest Internet draws of the summer — to keep using the song.

    In return, JibJab dropped a lawsuit against Ludlow that sought an order saying its use of the song was protected because it was a parody and "This Land" was in the public domain.

    The creators also agreed to provide a link on their website to the song's original lyrics and donate 20% of any profit to the Woody Guthrie Foundation.

    "The settlement accomplished Ludlow's goals, which was to bring people back to the immediate message of Woody Guthrie," said Paul LiCalsi, an attorney for the firm.

    "JibJab burlesqued the two political candidates, and it had nothing to do with what Woody Guthrie's original song was about, which was the great riches of this country belonging as much to the underclass and the disenfranchised as they belonged to the privileged," he said.

    LiCalsi said JibJab's version of the song wasn't protected under copyright law because it targeted the election rather than the song itself. Protection under the fair-use clause of the law requires that copyrighted material be the subject of the parody, he said.

    JibJab's lawyers said Ludlow was misinterpreting the law and that the song in the cartoon clearly was a parody.

    " 'This Land' is known as an iconic song about national unity, and the JibJab parody is predominantly about the lack of national unity at this time," said Fred von Lohmann, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which represented JibJab. "It's fair use even if not everyone gets the joke."

    Since its July 9 debut on the JibJab website, the cartoon has been viewed by about 20 million people, according to JibJab.

    Equal-opportunity insults fly as big-headed versions of the two candidates cheerfully trade jibs and jabs. At one point Bush sings to Kerry, "You're a liberal sissy," and the senator answers, "You're a right-wing nut-job."

    Other prominent leaders join in, including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, toting a machine gun, and former President Clinton, who's seen with a bikini-clad woman.

    Ludlow demanded in late July that the company stop using the song. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting Internet expression, signed on to represent JibJab and sued Ludlow in federal court in San Francisco.

    The foundation said it discovered the Library of Congress had sheet music for the song from 1945 — 11 years before Ludlow copyrighted it.

    Under the law, the copyright had to be renewed after 28 years. JibJab's lawyers said that meant Ludlow lost the copyright by not renewing in 1973.

    Ludlow, which renewed its 1956 copyright in 1984, countered that the 1945 sheet music didn't meet the legal definition of published music.

    Evan Spiridellis, who with his brother Gregg heads JibJab and created the animated short, said the 20% of the profit they agreed to donate may not amount to much.

    Although advertising on the site has brought in some money, the site's heavy traffic has increased bandwidth costs.

    "You don't get rich making Internet cartoons, that's for sure," Spiridellis said. "At the end of the day it's really all done in good fun." ​,1,1699282.story
  2. blackfox macrumors 65816


    Feb 18, 2003
    I would make a joke about this, but perhaps someone has made a similar joke in the past and/or there is a chance I might hurt someones's I wouldn't want to be sued.

    Is nothing sacred?...Pathetic, if you ask me...
  3. IJ Reilly thread starter macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    I'm thinking Woody Guthrie is grinning in his grave right now, considering how he felt about private property. Altogether now, let's sing the second verse of "This Land is My Land...!"

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