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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.


Jul. 27th, 2004 04:22 pm (UTC)
All that Jibjab's lawyers need to do is to point out the political content of the original work and assert that the intention of Jibjab is to, among other things, ridicule the notion that one can seriously claim that the nation is unified around one particular coure of ideas or one unified American people. Moreover, the section in which a Native American sings the catch line is a direct reference to Guthrie's own Native American heritage and, arguably, contradicts his frequent political statements relating to the position of native peoples.

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