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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. 28th, 2004 11:57 am (UTC)
There is art for the love of creating it and there is art as a source of money. That isn't to say that a "real" artist (one who does it for love) shouldn't get paid for their art. Rather, I'm making a point that while every artist wants to see their work displayed and enjoyed, some seem to want exposure for the money, some seem to want exposure because they like their work.

The use of Guthrie's song in this satire shows that it is universally recognized. It already enjoys the greatest possible exposure. JibJab's work is a separate work of creativity. It seems to me that basing it on a song that is universally known is rather like basing it on a musical scale that was the invention of a famous composer who never considered copyrighting it.

By the way, I noted a reference to Seuss in Lessig's blog. I remember that Lessig was a pseudonym of Theodore Gissel (sp?), aka Dr. Seuss. Is there a relation?
Jul. 28th, 2004 07:55 pm (UTC)
Basing it on a song vs. basing it on a musical scale is irrelevant, because the song currently enjoys copyright protection while the scale does not. It doesn't matter that the song is universally known or not -- it's still under copyright protection. Exposure should have nothing to do with copyright. Additionally, the copyright on the scale would have long since expired.

I don't think there's a connection between this Lessig and Seuss (except that Lessig is Gissel spelled backwards).

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