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Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

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May 18, 2004

Lawsuit Launched Over Schwarzenegger Bobbleheads

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Nearly three weeks ago a couple of posts on Copyfight noted that Governor Schwarzenegger's personal lawyers had sent a cease and desist letter to Bosley Bobbers, maker of fine bobble head dolls (including numerous political caricatures), for marketing a bobble head likeness of California's highest state official. Now, the New York Times reports that the Governor has not backed down and a lawsuit has been filed (Schwarzenegger Files Suit Against Bobblehead Maker). What part of the word "parody" does Governor Schwarzenegger not understand? One of the wonderful things about democracy is that we are able to ridicule and belittle our politicians. When politicians wield so much power it is a good thing to keep their egos somewhat in check with humorous renditions of their features. I see little reason why a 3D spring-mounted bust should receive less First Amendment protection than a political cartoon.

Previous Copyfight coverage:
Schwarzenegger Threatens to Sue Over Bobblehead Doll
Free Speech? Not on the Gubernator's Watch

Comments (10) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Abuse


1. Kevin Hester on May 18, 2004 4:01 PM writes...

A think that this Arnold reaction publication is a key response to this happening:

(nsfw - shrunken arnold naughty bits on the page)

Permalink to Comment

2. malachy on May 20, 2004 7:19 PM writes...

why do you think its a parody? I have a barry bonds bobblehead on my desk. is that a parody also? does the fact he now holds public office render it a parody? if he was still simply an actor would you still consider it a parody?

Permalink to Comment

3. Ernest Miller on May 20, 2004 7:30 PM writes...

Parody: A literary or artistic work that imitates the characteristic style of an author or a work for comic effect or ridicule.

I think a caricature of a public figure with an intentionally oversized head mounted on a spring is meant for comic effect. Or do you think that it is a realistic portrayal?

Frankly, I think bobbleheads are inherent parodies. If Barry Bonds is caricatured by a political cartoonist, is that a parody or not? What about the bobblehead makes it not a parody?

Permalink to Comment

4. malachy on May 20, 2004 8:22 PM writes...

what's with the snark? i think i raised a valid question. it may or may not be a parody that falls under the judicial exception to the right of publicity (though not all parodies are fair use). as you are no doubt aware, parody analysis is highly contextual, determined on a case by case basis (Campbell v. Acuff-Rose). I agree that the comic effect of a typical bobblehead militates toward a finding of parody. But it also appears to me a strong usurpation of rights to commercial exploitation of image. it just doesn't appear to be a cut and dried case of IP bullying that this site and others i've seen seem to believe.

Permalink to Comment

5. MAT on May 21, 2004 4:11 PM writes...

Maybe Arnold does not think it parody. Perhaps Arnold has low self esteem and believes that he really does look and act like a bobblehead. If that be the case then he does have the right to sue.

Permalink to Comment

6. jim on July 19, 2004 2:49 AM writes...

if he was still simply an actor would you still consider it a parody?
ohh, yes!

Permalink to Comment

7. Scarlett Johnassen on July 23, 2004 9:57 PM writes...

Since when does Schwarzenegger need a lawyer? Just terminate all bobblehead makers!

Permalink to Comment

8. Schwarzenegger on July 23, 2004 10:00 PM writes...

Since when does Arnold need to sue? Just terminate the bobblehead makers!

Permalink to Comment

9. Carl on August 9, 2004 5:01 AM writes...

I think a caricature of a public figure with an intentionally oversized head mounted on a spring is meant for comic effect.

Permalink to Comment

10. 传奇私服 on September 22, 2004 4:15 AM writes...

if he was still simply an actor would you still consider it a parody?
ohh, yes!

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