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Parody and Satire Videos, Which Is Fair Use?

April 27th, 2010 04:25 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

Hugh Pickens writes “Ben Sheffner writes that both sides in Don Henley’s lawsuit against California US Senate candidate Chuck DeVore (R) over campaign ‘parody’ videos that used Henley’s tunes set to lyrics mocking Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) have now filed cross-motions for summary judgment, teeing up a case that will likely clarify the rules for political uses of third-party material. The motions focus largely on one issue: whether the videos, which use the compositions ‘The Boys of Summer’ and ‘All She Wants to do is Dance,’ are ‘parodies,’ and thus likely fair uses, or, rather, unprivileged ‘satires.’ The Supreme Court in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, 510 U.S. 569 (1994), said that a parody comments on the work itself; a satire uses the work to comment on something else, so for Henley, this is a simple case: DeVore’s videos do not comment on Henley’s songs but use Henley’s songs to mock Boxer. DeVore argues that his videos do indeed target Henley, who has long been identified with liberal and Democratic causes, and asserts that the campaign chose to use Henley’s songs for precisely that reason. ‘DeVore’s videos target Henley only in the loosest sense,’ writes Sheffner, ‘and his brief’s arguments … sound dangerously close to the post hoc rationalizations dismissed as “pure shtick” and “completely unconvincing” by the Ninth Circuit in Dr. Seuss Enters. v. Penguin Books USA, Inc., 109 F.3d 1394 (1997).’ The case also bears directly on the recent removal of the ‘Downfall’ clips from YouTube where many journalists have almost automatically labeled the removed videos ‘parodies’ while the vast majority aren’t, says Sheffner.”

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