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"on the meaning of 'parody'"

Lawrence Lessig just put up a great blog entry about the JibJab Flash of Bush/Kerry. The essence of Lessig's observations is that while JibJab claims that their use of Woody Guthrie’s This Land song is considered "fair use" under "parody" standards, it, in fact, does not meat the criteria for "parody" because the JibJab piece is poking fun at Bush/Kerry, not at Woody Guthrie. Guthrie's lawers (OK, not really Guthrie's lawers, but the lawers who represent the publisher who owns the rights to his works) are all over this now and are in the process of investigating what legal recourse they have against JibJab.

*sigh* The current state of copyright law is a mess. I certainly don't agree with everything Lessig advocates, but he does bring up some excellent points in most of his blog entries. The best point in this entry is the observation that were he still alive, Woody Guthrie would likely want to have nothing to do with any of this. Lessig points out that "Guthrie was not much for property rights himself." According to the law, it's very likely the case that JibJab's "parody" is illegal because it's technically "not a 'parody' in the copyright view of the word." The question is: should it be illegal or should it be fair use?

I don't know if JibJab's piece constitutes "fair use" or not. Well, no. It probably doesn't constitute "fair use" under existing law. But should it? Maybe, maybe not. What I do know is that it's one of the funniest pieces of political commentary I've seen in a long time. I agree with Lessig when he says it's "brilliant."

Be sure to check out Lessig's thoughts on the issue.

Lawrence Lessig's Blog is syndicated on LiveJournal as lawrencelessig.

Comments

drmellow
Jul. 27th, 2004 03:34 pm (UTC)
What aspect do you find appalling? JibJab's "parody"? The copyright issues? Something else?
prester_scott
Jul. 27th, 2004 03:47 pm (UTC)
Sorry I wasn't clear.

The fact that the lawyers are seizing upon this technicality as an excuse to sue someone who has created a decent work of art, (presumably) not for profit nor with any intent to defame the original author, is appalling. (I'm surprised he wasn't also sued by the owners of the photos he used in the animation... they probably couldn't be identified for certain.)

JibJab's "mistake" was apparently, taking credit for his work and not hosting the thing on a .ru or .fi site.

It's this kind of crap, as much as the heavy hand of the State, that is stifling free speech. Greedy fricking bastards.
drmellow
Jul. 27th, 2004 05:15 pm (UTC)
I was hoping that's what you found appalling, 'cause I agree.

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