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August 1, 2004
...and the numerous reports are now confirmed: "In light of the July 30 deadline that Ludlow had set down in its threat letters to JibJab and its upstream hosting providers, we [EFF] felt we had little choice but to file suit to defend JibJab's fair use and free speech rights.
Both sides continue to exchange correspondence, and JibJab hopes this dispute can be resolved without further litigation. For the reasons discussed in our July 28 letter (PDF) to Ludlow, we continue to believe that 'This Land' is a fair use, especially in light of the fact that Woody himself borrowed the melody from an earlier song."
I can't say more than that about the JibJab case, but here are a few apropos links for those of you following the ongoing conversation about parody v. satire, fair use, free speech, and democracy:
- Copyrighting the President: "Many are concerned about the ever-expanding reach of copyright law. More are concerned about the ever-increasing concentration of the media. Greenwald's dilemma highlights how the two trends are linked: As media becomes more concentrated, competition to curry favor with politicians only increases. This intensifies during an election cycle. Networks able to signal that they will be 'friendly' - for example, by ensuring that embarrassing moments from interviews won't be made available to others - are more likely to attract candidates for interviews and so on, than networks that don't. Concentration tied to copyright thus gives networks both the motive and the means to protect favored guests" [Lawrence Lessig @ Wired Magazine].
- Some Troubling Implications about the Jibjab Case: "The social environment right now is politically riven; we are in the midst of the Democratic National Convention and at the heels of the Republic National Convention, with only a few months left before the election. Each side is tossing claims back and forth, promising to be the party that unites the nation. If the EFF successfully argues that Guthrie's song is about national unity, then Jibjab's release in the context of the surrounding sociopolitical climate can most definitely be argued as a parodic gesture. It just makes sense.
By the same argument, though, Ludlow Music could propel the idea that the animation is a satire on the political campaign. How, then, can a proper decision be reached in the case?" [Free Culture].
- This Land Is Not the Land We Thought It Was: "Guthrie was a radical in many ways. 'Mean Talking Blues,' a Guthrie song, is unabashedly pro-union, going so far as to portray the capitalist businessman in the persona of the Devil incarnate. We all sang as school kids this apparently very patriotic song extolling the virtues of 'This Land.' But when the mysteriously missing three stanzas are added, it becomes clear that 'This Land' is itself a parody, a takeoff on the happy-go-lucky optimism of a man who sees only good in his country while he overlooks glaring problems and inequalities.
Face it, by our standards, the man was a radical.
Anyway, I'm no expert, but when I saw the JibJab piece, my first thought was, ol' Woody woulda liked this one" [Dead Parrot Society].
- Copyright: Blawg Channel Gets the Joke: "Now, before you dismiss the fact that I saw the parody clearly merely because I practice copyright and trademark law and do this stuff all day, please note that as early as eighth grade, Mrs. Jacobson, our English teacher, lauded my ability to spot metaphors and the like in the assigned reading (a comparative advantage accruing to me by being the only person wonky enough to do the reading).
Be that as it may, as the Nader/Priceless court says, perceiving the parody clearly (or readily) is not the critical factor - parody can be subtle" [Marty Schwimmer @ The Blawg Channel].
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