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More info on JibJab

I don't have much time to pontificate about this, but I just noticed some more updates on the JibJab issue I wrote about earlier today. Thanks again goes to Lawrence Lessig's blog (via lawrencelessig) for the links.

Lessig's latest blog entry points out a criticism of Lessig's claims that, if accurate, would indicate that the JibJab piece is indeed parody, and thus protected under "fair use" clauses in copyright law. On the other hand, Chris Cohen agrees with Lessig and claims that the piece is satire, which is not protected under "fair use" clauses. There is a lot more interesting information about the legal difference between parody and satire at those links.

Also, JibJab has contacted the EFF for legal help on this issue. Good for them! They point out that Woody Guthrie used the following as his standard copyright notice:

"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."

I really hope JibJab comes through this a winner. Getting the help of the EFF will go a long way to helping them out.


Jul. 27th, 2004 06:33 pm (UTC)
Perhaps the reason Weird Al pays royalties, and asks permission, is that he writes tunes, too (none are his most popular, but perhaps you've heard "You Don't Love Me Anymore" or "Christmas at Ground Zero", both completely original songs). Weird Al's being an ethical businessman, and is covering his butt legally. One of his bits, on every albums, is doing a polka medley of pop tunes, words unchanged... which would definitely require permission.

As for this suit... I suppose that the artists' intent isn't legally binding on the estate, but what about Creative Commons licenses? People online copyright their stuff but give open permission for use, as long as credit is given. Would some greedy estate in the future go against these original wishes? Are they bound by the artists' statements?
Jul. 28th, 2004 07:50 pm (UTC)
Well, I think in this case that Guthrie's wishes are legally irrelevant because I'm pretty sure that the copyright for that song is not held by him, or his relatives, but by a publishing company. As far as your other questions, yes -- I think if a Creative Commons license is applied to a work, then it's binding until the owner changes it. But I'm not entirely sure.

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