[Rumori] Detritus Update: JibJab Jabbed by Lawyers

king wilson kingwilson at comcast.net
Thu Jul 29 02:33:09 PDT 2004

Are TV Networks “Inducing” Infringement?

Music Publisher Threatens Suit
  Over Song Parody Played On Network TV

Washington, July 28, 2004 – The Home Recording Rights Coalition (HRRC) 
today pointed to the threat of suit against a popular political song 
parody as illustrating worrisome trends in copyright law, and, in 
particular, the danger posed by a pending bill, S. 2560, the Inducing 
Infringement of Copyrights Act of 2004. A music publishing company now 
holding the rights to the late Woody Guthrie’s 1956 classic “This Land 
Is Your Land” has threatened to sue the creators of the widely 
circulated JibJab parody.

  “This case illustrates the potentially cascading effect of overly 
broad laws and court cases,” HRRC Chairman Gary Shapiro said. 
“Copyright terms have been extended for almost a century after the 
artist dies. Coverage for these protected works is claimed so broadly 
as to chill, threaten and squelch any possible creativity, in others, 
that the works may inspire. Now -- if S. 2560 were to pass – anyone who 
popularizes, points to, or even discusses an allegedly infringing 
version would also face suit for infringement. It would then take a 
jury trial to prove that you did not intend to induce infringement.”

“This Land Is Your Land” was written almost 50 years ago. The creators 
of the satirical JibJab web site produced a music video parody 
featuring images of President Bush, Senator Kerry, and other well-known 
political figures. It achieved such notice and acclaim that it was 
featured on the CBS Evening News. The creators were interviewed and 
lauded on ABC World News Tonight. When Ludlow Music, the present rights 
holder, threatened suit, the NBC Nightly News ran portions of it. 
Today, the CNN/Money site -- 
http://money.cnn.com/2004/07/26/commentary/wastler/wastler/?cnn=yes -- 
and others feature links to the full presentation on the JibJab site.

  “CBS is owned by Viacom, which owns a movie studio,” Shapiro 
continued. “CNN is owned by Time Warner, which owns a movie studio. 
Disney owns ABC. GE owns NBC Universal. By channeling viewers to the 
web site for additional plays of the allegedly infringing work, and 
even actively promoting it, these sophisticated businesses would seem 
to be knowingly inducing further alleged infringements. If S. 2560 were 
to pass, it would seem that they would be among the likely defendants, 
along with the JibJab creators.”

  Shapiro added that HRRC, of course, is not pre-judging the validity of 
the copyright claim against the JibJab parody. The right to parody, 
like other instances of fair use, is strongly grounded in the First 
Amendment. The point, he said, is that if such a case is considered 
strong enough to go to trial, S. 2560 would make potential defendants 
of Disney, CBS, NBC, CNN, and many others who have pointed to, 
forwarded, or publicly performed the JibJab work.

  HRRC also noted, courtesy of the “Techdirt” site -- 
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20040726/1733230_F.shtml – that the 
view of copyright taken by publishers who acquire artists’ rights often 
differs dramatically from the views of the artists themselves. As 
reported by “Techdirt,” here is the copyright notice that Woody Guthrie 
himself affixed to a work:
"This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright # 154085, 
for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our 
permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a 
dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote 
it, that's all we wanted to do."_________________

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