Monday, October 20, 2008

What has SNL done to Sarah Palin?

One writer to IPBiz mentioned (hypothetical) libel issues in the Sarah Palin context.

IPBiz recalls the MD Tenn case Acuff-Rose v. LUTHER R. CAMPBELL a/k/a Luke Skyywalker, 754 F. Supp. 1150, which in turn mentioned "Mad Magazine," a favorite of LBE's in days long past (in a copyright context)-->

Likewise, in Berlin, the Second Circuit affirmed the application of the fair use defense in a case where the defendants, publishers of "Mad Magazine," had published a volume which parodied twenty-five of the plaintiff's song lyrics in same meter. "The disparities in theme, content and style between the original lyrics and the alleged infringements could hardly be greater." Berlin, 329 F.2d at 545. Cf. Walt Disney Productions v. Air Pirates, 581 F.2d 751, 758 (9th Cir. 1978)(holding that fair use defense cannot apply where the copying is virtually complete or almost verbatim and that parodist may only use what is necessary to conjure up the original), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 1132, 59 L. Ed. 2d 94, 99 S. Ct. 1054 (1979); MCA, 677 F.2d at 185 (holding that where defendant's song "Cunnilingus Champion of Co. C" did not parody plaintiff's song "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B," the amount copied by defendants from the original song was so substantial as to be unfairly excessive).

See also Tin Pan Apple, 737 F. Supp. 826-->

That conclusion is not inconsistent with Berlin v. E.C. Publications, 329 F.2d 541 (2d Cir. 1964), the second case upon which present defendants rely. In Berlin the publishers of "Mad Magazine" put together a "collection of parody lyrics to 57 Old Standards which reflect the idiotic world we live in today." 329 F.2d at 543. So that the parody lyrics could be sung, they were written in the same meter as the original lyrics, as illustrated by the parody of "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody": "Louella Schwartz Describes her Malady." The court of appeals affirmed dismissal of the original song publisher's claims of infringement. Judge Kaufman wrote:

"The disparities in theme, content and style between the original lyrics and the alleged infringements could hardly be greater. In the vast majority of cases, the rhyme scheme of the parodies bears no relationship to the originals. While brief phrases of the original lyrics were occasionally injected into the parodies, this practice would seem necessary if the defendants' efforts were to "recall or conjure up" the originals; the humorous effect achieved when a familiar line interposed in a totally incongruous setting, traditionally a tool of parodists, scarcely amounts to a "substantial" taking, if that [**12] standard is not to be woodenly applied. Similarly, the fact that defendants' parodies were written in the same meter as plaintiffs' compositions would seem inevitable if the original was to be recognized, but such a justification is not even necessary; we doubt that even so eminent a composer as plaintiff Irving Berlin should be permitted to claim a property interest in iambic pentameter.

And, of course, 13 Misc. 3d 1215A; 824 N.Y.S.2d 755 -->

The New York Times prides itself on its motto "All the news that's fit to print." There was also a satiric reference to this in, I believe, Mad Magazine many years ago, "All the news that fits, we print."

See also


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