Kienitz v. Sconnie Nation, LLC

Two things can be said for Kienitz. First, defendants did not need to use the copyrighted work. They wanted to mock the Mayor, not to comment on Kienitz’s skills as a photographer or his artistry in producing this particular photograph. There’s no good reason why defendants should be allowed to appropriate someone else’s copyrighted efforts as the starting point in their lampoon, when so many non-­copyrighted alternatives (including snapshots they could have taken themselves) were available. The fair-­use privilege under §107 is not designed to protect lazy appropriators. Its goal instead is to facilitate a class of uses that would not be possible if users always had to negotiate with copyright proprietors. (Many copyright owners would block all parodies, for example, and the administrative costs of finding and obtaining consent from copyright holders would frustrate many academic uses.)

Second, this use may injure Kienitz’s long-­range commercial opportunities, even though it does not reduce the value he derives from this particular picture. He promises his subjects that the photos will be licensed only for dignified uses. Fewer people will hire or cooperate with Kienitz if they think that the high quality of his work will make the photos more effective when used against them! But Kienitz does not present an argument along these lines, and the consideration in the preceding paragraph is not enough to offset the fact that, by the time defendants were done, almost none of the copyrighted work remained. The district court thus reached the right conclusion.

AFFIRMED

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Farah, et al. v. Esquire Magazine, et al.

This case is principally a defamation action based on the publication of an article by journalist Mark Warren on Esquire Magazine’s Politics Blog. The article was posted one day after the release of a book entitled “Where’s the Birth Certificate? The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to Be President,” written by Jerome Corsi and published by Joseph Farah’s WND Books. Farah’s website, WorldNetDaily, announced the book launch with the headline, “It’s out! The book that proves Obama’s ineligible: Today’s the day Corsi is unleashed to tell all about that ‘birth certificate’” (emphasis in original). Approximately three weeks earlier, President Obama had released his long-form birth certificate showing that he was born in Hawaii. Warren’s article was entitled “BREAKING: Jerome Corsi’s Birther Book Pulled from Shelves!” (emphasis in original). It stated, in part: “In a stunning development one day after the release of [the Corsi book], [Farah] has announced plans to recall and pulp the entire 200,000 first printing run of the book, as well as announcing an offer to refund the purchase price to anyone who has already bought . . . the book.” Approximately ninety minutes later, Esquire published an “update” on its blog “for those who didn’t figure it out,” that Warren’s article was “satire”; the “update” clarified that the article was untrue and referenced other “serious” Esquire articles on the birth certificate issue. Farah observed the same day that he thought the blog post was a “poorly executed parody.” Also that day, Warren told The Daily Caller that he had no regrets about publishing the fictitious article and expressed his negative view of the book’s author; his statements were published on The Daily Caller website that day and the following day.

Farah and Corsi filed suit for compensatory and punitive damages alleging defamation, false light, interference with business relations, invasion of privacy, and violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)(1)(A) and (B). Esquire for all defendants moved to dismiss on several grounds, and the district court dismissed the complaint. Farah and Corsi appeal, focusing in their brief principally on the dismissal under the D.C. Anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (“Anti-SLAPP”) Act, D.C. Code § 16-5501 et. seq., and dismissal of the Lanham Act claim. Upon de novo review, we hold that the complaint was properly dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim because the blog post was fully protected political satire and the “update” and Warren’s statements are protected opinion. The complaint also fails to state a claim for violation of the Lanham Act. Accordingly, we affirm the dismissal of the complaint.

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Judge Slams Attorneys in 'South Park' 'What What (In the Butt)' Copyright Lawsuit (Video)

Ruling says there wasn't ever much question that the show had fair use to viral music video and harshly criticizes the plaintiff for bringing the lawsuit.

12:55 PM PST 12/7/2011 by Eriq Gardner

As punishment for suing Viacom, the owners of the YouTube viral video What What (In The Butt) have been ordered to pay up the you-know-what.

In November 2010, Brownmark Films filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Viacom and Comedy Central over an episode of South Park that allegedly infringed the massively popular music video. In July, a federal judge dismissed the case, finding that South Park characters recreating the super-silly clip was clearly fair use. Now, the judge has also ordered Brownmark to pay Viacom more than $30,000 in attorney fees for making a legal action that interfered with free speech and wasn't a proper way to handle the situation.

Full story.


Lawmakers Pushing Bill That Could Land YouTube Lip-Synch Artists Behind Bars

By Pete Griffin

Record labels are clamoring for a chance to have their artist lip-synch alongside 16-year-old YouTube sensation Keenan Cahill in, of all places, his bedroom. But could a proposed amendment to the federal copyright infringement law potentially land Cahill, or any person lip-synching copyrighted material in a YouTube video, behind bars?

Senate Bill 978, a bipartisan measure introduced last month by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.), is backed by supporters who say it closes glaring loopholes in current copyright infringement law created by the realities of the digital age.

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Barney parodies are met with a snarl

By Rebecca Carr
Cox News Service
Published November 12, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Barney's official Web site promotes "sharing, caring, imagining, dancing and learning" for the preschool set. Now the affable dinosaur can add litigating to the list.

Barney's owner, Lyons Partnership, is in a legal squabble with a Web site creator who posted unflattering images of the children's character. The dispute is testing the boundaries of copyright law and free expression on the Internet.
Stuart Frankel, a musicologist from New York City, said he's promoting nothing more than laughter. He posted the Barney material to parody the Tyrannosaurus rex best-known for singing, "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family."

Lyons didn't laugh.

Matthew Carlin, a New York lawyer representing Allen, Texas-based Lyons, sent Frankel a series of cease-and-desist letters ordering him to remove the negative images or face the prospect of legal action for copyright infringement.

Full story.