Re: [rumori] Satire is out? They can't be serious

From: nat (
Date: Thu May 30 2002 - 16:36:23 PDT

And the funniest part of the article is the final sentence; "This material is
subject to copyright and any unauthorised use, copying or mirroring is

shannon o'neill wrote:

> Satire is out? They can't be serious
> Date: May 30 2002
> A court decision has delivered a low blow to comedians and the good old
> Aussie sense of humour, writes Andrew Bock.
> A serious miscarriage of humour was upheld by a full bench of the Federal
> Court of Australia last week. In a copyright wrangle over the use of TV
> footage, the full court ruled, among other things, that satire alone did
> not constitute a form of criticism, review or news reportage.
> Aristophanes, Juvenal, Chaucer and Moliere would be turning in their
> graves. Barry Humphries, Clive James and John Clarke are not likely to be
> entertained.
> The court's frightening conclusion issues a restriction to comedians in
> Australia. But perhaps a worse outcome of the ruling is that it may force
> the electronic media to take current affairs even more seriously.
> The case concerned a dust-up over the use of Nine's footage by Ten's
> satirical current affairs show The Panel, which rebroadcast a number of
> pieces of Nine's footage and made fun of the subjects, without paying for
> the footage. The copyright act allows one to borrow footage or reproduce
> works for the purposes of making a news story or for the purposes of
> criticism or review.
> Much time was spent in court debating what constituted a serious news
> treatment and what was merely "poking fun".
> Justice Finkelstein argued in classic deadpan style that John Howard
> singing Happy Birthday to Donald Bradman on the Midday show was newsworthy.
> "An incident where the prime minister of a country has behaved in a way
> which some might call `silly' is certainly newsworthy," Finkelstein
> declared. His argument implies that Howard does not always appear "silly".
> Discussion of the merits of particular Panel segments relied upon making a
> distinction between news and entertainment. The judges admitted this was
> not an easy distinction to make but nevertheless persisted. A singing prime
> minister was considered newsworthy. Silly disguises used by anonymous
> interviewees were merely entertainment.
> The court's assessment of other segments from The Panel hinged on the
> notion that making fun was not fair dealing unless there was also an
> element of serious or "recognisable" criticism. In other words, the court
> managed to rule that it is no defence to make fun of something unless you
> also take it seriously.
> Some would argue that in the case of Howard singing, this is impossible.
> Satire - having a lend - is an Australian institution. It saves us from
> political correctness. It saves us from being defined. It saves us from the
> tyranny of the establishment, which is often the tyranny of the serious.
> The right to razz ought to be preserved in the Constitution, let alone the
> common law.
> Ten's counsel should have argued that the whole problem here was that Nine
> couldn't take a joke.
> An absurd outcome of the court's decision is that it may now be safer and
> cheaper to produce serious current affairs programs than funny current
> affair programs.
> Michael Hirsh, co-executive producer of the The Panel, said the ruling may
> restrict all stations, including Nine, from creating programs easily from
> one another's footage.
> Nine has arguably shot itself in the foot. This ruling cannot be good for
> ratings. It may also make it harder for TV shows to satirise other shows.
> This, in turn, means the media may be forced to take itself seriously. This
> is not good for ratings or circulation either. It is satire, for example,
> that gives radio breakfast shows their popularity.
> I once asked the comedian Glynn Nicholas why he thought people liked
> comedians more than politicians. His response was deadpan: "Because they're
> more interesting."
> The law, it seems, would have the media treat all subjects in the way that
> lawyers do - seriously and critically. This is not an especially surprising
> ruling to come from an institution which excels in taking itself seriously.
> You're not allowed to make fun of the law. You'll pay if you do, mate.
> Which is why lawyers make particularly good comedy subjects.
> John Cleese once said that humans were funniest when they took themselves
> most seriously. By his reasoning, judges are perhaps the best comedians in
> the country. Which is no doubt why they felt qualified to limit the use of
> satire.
> Andrew Bock is a former Age journalist.
> This material is subject to copyright and any unauthorised use, copying or
> mirroring is prohibited.
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