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Parody or Satire? Threat To Sue JibJab

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the ask-roy-orbison dept.

Censorship 710

The Importance of writes "Internet multimedia producers JibJab have been getting a lot of attention recently for their version of Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" that pokes fun at Bush, Kerry and America in general. Now, JibJab is being threatened with a copyright lawsuit by the rights holders. They've already contacted EFF and there is an ongoing debate about whether the flash animation is protected parody or infringing satire."

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710 comments

Did they listen to the original? (5, Insightful)

beeplet (735701) | more than 9 years ago | (#9816894)

There's something horribly ironic about this lawsuit... if you read past the first few verses of the song (the most widely known ones) you realize that this is not exactly a patriotic hymn...


As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

Chorus

In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

Chorus (2x)


Anti-property, anti-government... and they're worried that a satire aimed at Bush/Kerry will "damage" this "icon of americana"?? This is what the original folk music was all about! It seems to me that the copyright holders are just looking for an excuse to come down on these people. I doubt Woodie Guthrie would have approved the suit...

(PS. Just to be clear, I love this song - in its entirety - and was listening to it last week during a drive across the U.S. I wish the original message wasn't getting so lost...)

Dude (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9816926)

If the lawyers representing JibJab don't point this out, I will be extremely depressed.

My god, something actually VALUABLE was posted to slashdot. What a rare occurance!

Sold out for a buck (2, Insightful)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 9 years ago | (#9816960)

This is what happens when artists sell the rights to their work for a buck or two. Got a problem with the RIAA, MPAA etc, talk to the stupid artists who are having caviar dreams and champagne wishes.

As scripture says, you cannot serve two masters.

The point is, artists are in complete control UNTIL the moment they worry about $$ instead of art. Most artists are too stupid to understand this concept. It is easier to blame the "Big Corporations" for their own ignornace.

Re:Sold out for a buck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9816970)

One wonders if selling out when this song was written had the same consequences it has now.

Re:Sold out for a buck (-1, Troll)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817053)

That doesn't matter. Sold out means sold out. The value of selling at the time was measured, not the future.

If you sell me a house today, and the law changes tomorrow in a way that seriously benifits me for that house, you cannot complain that you were ripped off or otherwise complain that it wasn't a fair deal. You sold out to me, the deal is done.

But I can see that you are a whiney little coward, who thinks one should not be held accountable for ANY adverse reprocussions for one's bad decisions.

The world is NOT fair, never was, never will be. Quit trying to make it fair, because you only make it worse.

Re:Sold out for a buck (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9817088)

To quote Ren Hoek...
"Sometimes your wealth of ignorance is astounds me"

and to quote Woody Guthrie...
"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."

Re:Sold out for a buck (5, Interesting)

YOU LIKEWISE FAIL IT (651184) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817123)

This is what happens when artists sell the rights to their work for a buck or two. Got a problem with the RIAA, MPAA etc, talk to the stupid artists who are having caviar dreams and champagne wishes.

Insolence. The original copyright notice attached to This Land is Your Land ( and several other Guthries, iirc ) reads as follows:

"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."

Your bullshit about caviar dreams and champagne wishes is poorly placed against a man who loved his fellow americans, loved the free flow of information, mailed lyrics booklets to his listeners and invited them to sing his songs, and died wretchedly in a state hospital of an irreversible degenerative nerve disorder. Learn your history.

Re:Sold out for a buck (4, Insightful)

macdaddy357 (582412) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817182)

If this isn't the smoking gun proof that copyrights last too long, then nothing is. If the original 28 year copyright maximum still existed, This Land is Your Land would have been in the public domain where it belongs long ago. Woody Guthrie is dead. He cannot be encouraged to keep creating through copyright protection.

For those who don't know, here is the portion of the U.S. Constitution that copyright and patent are based on:
"congress shall have the power . . . to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." If they pass a copyright term extention every 20 years, then they are perpetual, and therefore not for limited times.

Re:Did they listen to the original? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9816998)

Thank you!

Re:Did they listen to the original? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9817010)

This is the first truly informative and insightful post I think I've ever read on slashdot.

Re:Did they listen to the original? (4, Insightful)

August_zero (654282) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817043)

I think you are 100% correct. The original piece of music had this subtle little defiance in it and that is why it is great.

I think the whole reason that this is happening goes something like this:

1) Parody Song criticizes political figures (a hornet's nest to begin with)
2) The people that own the rights to the real song are either offended by the political view point of the parody, or are being pressured by one or both of the two political figures whom the parody is targeted at.
3) They sue because this is America, and you can do that, senses of humor went out of style a long time ago and if someone does something funny that you don't find funny it must be wrong and bad so you may be entitled to money/the elimination of the opposing viewpoint.

This and everything else that has been going on with both parties convinces me I would be right to stay home on election day and get smashed on Listerine.*

*yeah the quotes not exact.

Folkways here we go... (2, Interesting)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817057)

As a very strong personal liberties advocate, and writer of many folk songs, I'm sure Mr. Guthrie is spinning in his grave right now. I can just see his ghost walking the halls of the US Copyright office trying to haunt anybody who pretends to agree with such an idiotic stance.

Re:Did they listen to the original? (4, Interesting)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817124)

The song is, I believe, part of a book of songs (that I've mentioned before) that Woody himself originally privately published and dedicated to the public domain. If I dug through my stacks for an hour or two I could come up with the actual wording of the dedication, where Woody said something like "I had fun writing them and that's what I wanted to do. You have fun singing them."

After Woody became famous (and thus his songs worth money) Ludlow Music unleashed its lawyers to have them withdrawn from the public domain.

Is this a great country or what?

It's also an often parodied song already. I like the Israeli version myself:

This land is your land
This land is my land
From the Arab border
To the Arab border
From the Arab border
To the Arab border
This land was made for you and me

This "icon of Americana" was also part of what got Woody labled a communist. Go figure.

KFG

Re:Did they listen to the original? (5, Insightful)

javaxman (705658) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817161)

this is not exactly a patriotic hymn...

Oh, it's patriotic all right, just not in the sense that the Republican Party and big business would like to sell... it's patriotic in the good-ol'-fashion power-to-the-people *democratic* sense.

Re:Did they listen to the original? (5, Interesting)

kaden (535652) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817166)

Even more to the point, here's a quote from Woody Guthrie about copyrights, as found on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

"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."

Just further evidence of how messed up copyright laws are. The person whose rights are allegedly being protected here is the last person who'd want them protected like this.

GNAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9816896)

GNAA TROLL FP

HAHAHAHAHAH (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9816909)

If you think chickens are stupid, try planting vegtables!

Precedents? (2, Insightful)

Daniel Ellard (799842) | more than 9 years ago | (#9816914)

Gadzooks, there must be precedents for this...

What does someone like Weird Al Yankovich do? Does he pay the copyright holders for the songs he parodies? Seems like whatever applies to W.A.Y. applies here.

Re:Precedents? (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 9 years ago | (#9816929)

What does someone like Weird Al Yankovich do? Does he pay the copyright holders for the songs he parodies?

Yes [weirdal.com].

Re:Precedents? (5, Informative)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817069)

Reread the page you linked to. It doesn't say anywhere that he pays the copyright holders. It only says that he voluntarily asks for permission from the original artist before doing a parody.

Does Al get permission to do his parodies?

Al does get permission from the original writers of the songs that he parodies. While the law supports his ability to parody without permission, he feels it's important to maintain the relationships that he's built with artists and writers over the years. Plus, Al wants to make sure that he gets his songwriter credit (as writer of new lyrics) as well as his rightful share of the royalties.

On Weird Al... (1)

nweaver (113078) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817078)

But read the FAQ entry:

Does Al get permission to do his parodies?

Al does get permission from the original writers of the songs that he parodies. While the law supports his ability to parody without permission, he feels it's important to maintain the relationships that he's built with artists and writers over the years. Plus, Al wants to make sure that he gets his songwriter credit (as writer of new lyrics) as well as his rightful share of the royalties.

Re:Precedents? (1)

martinX (672498) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817094)

To point out the exact bit:
Does Al get permission to do his parodies?

Al does get permission from the original writers of the songs that he parodies. While the law supports his ability to parody without permission, he feels it's important to maintain the relationships that he's built with artists and writers over the years. Plus, Al wants to make sure that he gets his songwriter credit (as writer of new lyrics) as well as his rightful share of the royalties.

Having said that, is JibJab's work a parody of TLIYL, or is it comedy at the expense of Bush and Kerry, using TLIYL as a means to an end? If it's the latter, then the owners of TLIYL should have the right to veto it.

Re:Precedents? (1)

brilinux (255400) | more than 9 years ago | (#9816964)

I actually believe that he, as well as other satirists such as The Capitol Steps [capsteps.com] must get permission from the artists and copywrite holders, as well as state that they had permission on the album cover or wherever the music is, in order to parody it. While they may not have to pay copywrites on the songs, they do have to seek permission and state that they have it.

Re:Precedents? (2, Funny)

jrumney (197329) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817007)

They don't have to (under the law at least). But they will find it hard to get their recordings distributed and promoted if they don't due to the fact that the record industry doesn't approve of fair use.

Re:Precedents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9817063)

I think all he really has to do is pay the standard ASCAP/BMI fee to use the music separately from the lyrics. It is a standard fee.

It works the same way with covers. You pay the ASCAP/BMI fee, you can do your own version of the song.

Pretty obvious (5, Interesting)

dark404 (714846) | more than 9 years ago | (#9816916)

The intent is to make a political message about the government not to parady the song. Ergo Ipso Facto, it's a satire not a parody and they're in the wrong.

Re:Pretty obvious (3, Funny)

Billobob (532161) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817029)

For us homely normal talkers, ergo ipso facto means "therefore by this fact", or "Latin makes arguements sound smarter".

frist post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9816918)

frist post!

Aside from the legal ramifications... (1)

yetdog (760930) | more than 9 years ago | (#9816920)

That "This Land Is Your Land" parody is hysterical. --Proud Republican ;)

Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9816959)

I'm a proud Democrat, and I have to say they do a really good job of making both sides feel good and feel insulted too =)

Though I have a hard time believing you're a proud Republican when you've got a STUPID DUMBASS as your leader.

Peace and Love! Peace and Looove!

Peaace.... And..... Looooooveeee!!!

Re:Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9816980)

and war!! don't forget waaaaaarrrrrrrrr!!!

Re:Yeah (-1, Offtopic)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817145)

I have a hard time believing you are a proud Democrat when you have Jimmy Carter giving lessons on economics and forign policy at your convention.

Not to mention that the STUPID DUMBASS was called "Tricky", "Sneaky" by one Al Gore. Who is the dumbass, the dumbass or the one that thinks the dumbass is smart?

So which John Kerry you going to vote for? The one that voted for the 94 billion, or the one who voted against it?

The one that said that Saddam had WMD or the one that said He didn't?

The one that is Prolife, or the one who is Prochoice?

We have a split personality running against a STUPID DUMBASS. Since I can't pick stupid over psycho I will vote third party.

Vote for a Libertarian. Vote for Green. Anyone but Skull and Bones.

Republicrats, Demicans.

Re:Aside from the legal ramifications... (0, Flamebait)

SoSueMe (263478) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817129)

I saw this for the first time this morning. I honestly have to say it is about the most pointless piece of tripe I have had the distinct displeasure to witness in quite a while.
I am not of the US but I do follow your politics as it impacts on a significant part of the world.
The American sense of humour eludes me. I think it is because it's ... not funny.

Snarks do well here (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9816921)

This frost is claimed for snarks

I want to sue JibJab too (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9816924)

That joke is sooo fucking lame, I'd like to hold them liable. Not to mention, due to some meme/brainworm, I have to get this URL mailed to me 1000 different times by every assclown I know. Please, do us all a favor, and shut down jibjab.

Parody vs. Satire unimportant (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9816928)

What's important in this case is that is clearly political speech, and the Courts have time and time again give much more freedom to political speech than any other. Political speech is what is most protected by the first ammendment, because it keeps a free government free.

satire vs. parody (5, Insightful)

rgoldste (213339) | more than 9 years ago | (#9816936)

The difference is that parody makes fun of the original work that the work is derived from; satire is a derivative work that makes fun of something else. Parody is protected, satire is not fair use.

It's pretty clear that the flash animation in question does not make fun of the actual song, but rather the presidential candidates and America in general. Thus, I don't think it's legal, but I'm only a law intern.

I'm not saying that I like the conclusion, however.

Re:satire vs. parody (2, Interesting)

mriker (571666) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817046)

It seems to me that a lot of Weird Al's parodies have nothing to do with the original song except for the melody (ie. the lyrics are completely unrelated to the original song). So if your definition is correct, shouldn't Weird Al be getting sued lots?

Re:satire vs. parody (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817118)

Nope. Al's songs are making fun of the original song -- the lyrics still scan similarly and there's really no other target.

This is the important distinction between parody and satire in the world of copyright: who's the target. You can make fun of Bush without needing to use someone's song. You cannot make fun of the song without using the song, however.

Of course Al can muddy the waters a bit since he gets permission anyway, so it's a non-issue for him.

There was a case revolving around a satire of the OJ Simpson case where someone used The Cat in the Hat. Since their target was Simpson and not The Cat in the Hat, they got their asses sued off. It's a decent read if you poke around for it; it's not all that old a case.

Re:satire vs. parody (2, Informative)

neurojab (15737) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817120)

>So if your definition is correct, shouldn't Weird Al be getting sued lots?

Perhaps that's why Wierd Al asks the artist's permission first, then pays them handsome royalties after the fact.

Re:satire vs. parody (1)

chadjg (615827) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817109)

I think there are some real gems in the original song, and it's really too bad that only naive people can listen without almost crying these days.

That said, the lyrics in the JibJab version viewed in contrast with the original lyrics comprises a valid commentary. It was hilarious, I think, and makes cynical fun of the original's point of view. That's my take on it.

Then again, only a moron would confuse the two versions. I think that the JibJab guys are screwed.

Re:satire vs. parody (1)

zeux (129034) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817175)

So you are basically saying that in this country you cannot make fun of your government and your country?

And you are talking about freedom of speech?

In my country we publicly (read 'on TV') make fun of our government in countless occasions and AFAIK nobody ever had any problem with that. It's fun, and sometimes necessary.

Seems infringing (1)

mingot (665080) | more than 9 years ago | (#9816937)

It's not a parody of the song. It uses the song to make fun of Bush and Kerry. If it was making fun of the song I think they could get away with it.

Weird Al Yankovic (1)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817001)

From what I remember from his VH-1 interview, he asks permission first as a courtesy to the artist who originally performed the music. But his producer swears up and down that they really don't need it, as in the mix up with Snoop Dog (He really didn't give permission, but Al thought he had it and did the parody anyway, royally pissing off Snoop. Snoop couldn't/didn't take legal cation.)

Re:Weird Al Yankovic (1)

Jad LaFields (607990) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817048)

That was Coolio, not Snoop Dogg, but yeah, he really shouldn't have to ask permission. Hell, I hear amature "parodies" on the radio all the time. This is B.S., pure and simple.

this is just how lawyers masturbate (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9816943)

I wouldn't worry too much about it.

Woody Guthrie on Copyright (4, Informative)

bfields (66644) | more than 9 years ago | (#9816947)

From www.woodyguthrie.com [woodyguthrie.com], quoting Pete Seeger:
When Woody Guthrie was singing hillbilly songs on a little Los Angeles radio station in the late 1930s, he used to mail out a small mimeographed songbook to listeners who wanted the words to his songs, On the bottom of one page appeared the following: "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." W.G.

Whoever wound up with the rights to his music has, I suspect, a rather different view of things.

--Bruce Fields

Woody Guthrie (2, Insightful)

rrangel (791703) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817005)

Wonderful quote and link. I think it says everything. W.G. was an Open Source original.

Re:Woody Guthrie on Copyright (2, Funny)

tsackett (410681) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817017)

That copyright notice sounds like a good legal defense for JibJab. I hope that "This Land is Your Land" was included in that songbook. Of course, the current owners of the copyright will probably claim that Guthrie's notice was a parody of a copyright notice. Or is that a satire?

Re:Woody Guthrie on Copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9817033)

Mod parent up

Re:Woody Guthrie on Copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9817035)

I don't suppose this song ever had that notice attached. That would settle things pretty quickly.

Also, how were things arranged with other folk singers that sang this song? Such as....all of them.

Re:Woody Guthrie on Copyright (1)

jhoger (519683) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817054)

So WG really was a trailblazer... his "we don't give a dern" license is pretty close to a BSD license.

And truth to tell, unless this statement was somehow recinded, it looks suspiciously like a license to me.

Re:Woody Guthrie on Copyright (4, Funny)

nacturation (646836) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817107)

Of course, Richard M. Stallman would add a clause to that license agreement since it's not free enough: "... we don't give a dern, so long as you also be providin them lyrics to all othern who be wantin to sing it too."

Re:Woody Guthrie on Copyright (4, Interesting)

thogard (43403) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817125)

This law suit might be a good thing. A court could rule that the current copyright law clearly goes against the wishes of the copyright creator and also clearly is going against the reasons for copyright stated in the Constitution. I think if I was being sued for this sort of thing, I would also try to convince a jury that the song is in the public domain. After call can you find 12 people who can name the author of that song? If they heard it, it was most likely because they sung it in 2nd grade music class. Its clear that even congress seems to think many songs are in the public domain after their singing God Bless America on the steps without paying royalties based on performance with a billion viewers of news programs world wide. Would a reasonable person assume that Happy Birthday is in the public domain?

Re:Woody Guthrie on Copyright (4, Interesting)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817184)

court could rule that the current copyright law clearly goes against the wishes of the copyright creator

The copyright creator is Congress. The creator of the WORK sold his rights -- he's out of the picture. I mean no one cares what Shakespeare thinks about staging his plays; why should we? If Guthrie was willing to sell his rights -- and no one could get 'em otherwise -- then that's the end of his involvement. If authors want to keep a hand in, that's their problem, and they shouldn't sell their rights if that's what they want.

I would also try to convince a jury that the song is in the public domain. After call can you find 12 people who can name the author of that song?

Well, it's not. I suppose a jury could nullify or something, but it's really not in the public domain, and popular belief alone don't make it so. Get that popular belief to change the laws, and then we'll be cooking with gas.

Its clear that even congress seems to think many songs are in the public domain after their singing God Bless America on the steps without paying royalties based on performance with a billion viewers of news programs world wide.

God Bless America IS in the public domain, IIRC, having been written in 1918.

Would a reasonable person assume that Happy Birthday is in the public domain?

Dunno. But they'd be wrong unless they got the laws changed. Which I'd likely support.

Re:Woody Guthrie on Copyright (1)

Derekloffin (741455) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817192)

Although I think that would be great to bring up in the case of a simple copy, the version here isn't a simply copy. One other thing that copyrights grant the creator is a type of moral control which basically says you have the right not to have your creative work used in ways you see as objectionable.

However, I believe that particular is non-transferable, at least I believe that is the case in Canada, not sure on the good old USA, so seeing as how the creator isn't around anymore it may not apply anyway.

Oh my, so much legal thinking. My brain is starting to hurt...

har. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9816951)

it's funny, how fast this has been making it's way around the internet lately. i swear, it seems like each night another person links me to it, over aim. my dad even got it in an email. i would be damn hard pressed to see how it could be judged as anything other than a parody...

Threats? (-1, Redundant)

valkraider (611225) | more than 9 years ago | (#9816953)

Now, JibJab is being threatened with ...

I think that NOW JibJab is being threatend with a Slashdotting...

The first time I have seen a site Slashdotted before the first Slashdot post!

Re:Threats? (1)

Anonymous Custard (587661) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817003)

"The first time I have seen a site Slashdotted before the first Slashdot post!"

The site's been WAS'd (Wide Area Slashdotted) ever since that animation came out.

Re:Threats? (2, Informative)

casuist99 (263701) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817061)

If you're going to watch it anyway, why not just "wget http://images2.shockwave.com/afassets/flash/this_l and.swf" (removing the spaces) and actually save it to your HD so you have it later and don't have to download it every time you watch it or show it to people? It's just the same amount of load on the server in the beginning, but it's more convenient later.

Threats?-BiTorrent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9817141)

Two things. BiTorrent it. Two I can't get the Flash Player to play it, all by it's little ol self.

Its all about the money (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9816954)

These companies don't give a hoot about songs nor artists. They only care about how much money they can make off it.

The music company is just mad because they are not making money from it.

Welcome to the land of corporations.

The song should be renamed: This land is my land, your land is my land.

Lyrics and visuals make it not an infringement IMO (3, Insightful)

LeahofRivendell (797671) | more than 9 years ago | (#9816956)

Satire has a near and dear place in many people's hearts just as a coping mechanism with all of the crazy stuff happening in the news. Take it away, and we go back to rioting. That's how it works

Woody's estate probably has a case (5, Informative)

DavidBrown (177261) | more than 9 years ago | (#9816982)

I've seen Jib-Jab's song, which is a very clever and well-done piece of bipartisan fun. The problem though, is that parody can't use an entire work - either all the words or all the melody or both. Appropriating the entire song and changing some of the lyrics goes beyond the normal bounds of fair use. It's why Weird Al Yankovic gets the copyright holder's permission before publishing his parody songs, and it's why Mad Magazine sets limits to the song parodys it publishes.

Of course, the present copyright holders of "This Land is Our Land" are still being dickheads.

Amusing, given Guthrie's standard copyright notice (2, Insightful)

PapayaSF (721268) | more than 9 years ago | (#9816983)

http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Woody_Guthrie [wordiq.com]

"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."

Re:Amusing, given Guthrie's standard copyright not (1)

jkeyes (243984) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817092)


"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."


IANAL or do I play one on TV. But it seems to me that because of this the Copyright holders could end up losing their copyright (which apparently they should have many years ago) thus losing what money they were making off of it, seems pretty dumb to rock the boat when your own copyright is in question (and making you money).

remember hamster dance (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9816991)

that was the intro song to Robbin Hood (the DISNEY CARTOON) simpy sped up.... it was identical.... nobody ever said anything to them

Funny Quotes (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 9 years ago | (#9816992)

Any way you look at it, it's very funny.

"He can't say nuclear, that really scares me.
Sometimes a brain is really handy."

"He got that Botox"

There are plenty of other goodies and great images that roll by that had me laughing and laughing.

They need to make another one about the RIAA and the Girl Scouts singing "America the Beautiful". If culture can't be used for fun, what good is it? If this constitutes a republication or public performance of someone else's work, I'm going to burn all my Puff Daddy CDs in protest.

It is protected speech... (1)

John Seminal (698722) | more than 9 years ago | (#9816994)

If Larry Flint can publish in his magazine a cartoon showing Jerry Falwell having sex in an out house with him mom, and that he liked fucking goats, then anything is protected speech.

The music is a part of the parody. I think they are saying how absurd politics are. But that is my take on it.

My opinion is... (1)

Maxite (782150) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817002)

that it is indeed a satire, but I see no reason for them to be sued. If you have ever seen the Flash animation, you can probably easily determine that it is indeed a political satire. "This Land" is an old song, and has been parodied many times. I am sure that if they just played the song alone without the Flash animation, it would be considered a parody. Most likely though, they're going to be screwed, and that'll be a shame.

Would anybody even care if not for the publicity? (3, Insightful)

bluemeep (669505) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817004)

I swear, I've seen the entire flash three times now thanks to the repeat airings on the news. Would anybody have gotten their undies in a twist if the animation had been something completely forgettable on Newgrounds.com?

What the hell? (3, Interesting)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817016)

"This puts a completely different spin on the song," said Kathryn Ostien, director of copyright licensing for the publisher. "The damage to the song is huge."

"The damage to the song is huge"? I'll never understand these idiots. It's as if they assume that because somebody heard a menial representation of a very well known song in a little cartoon being distributed via the Internet that they're immediately going to think that the original work is bad/political/evil/whatever.

That JibJab parody was hilarious. If anybody should be getting pissed, it should be the Native Americans because of that bit at the end of the song (go ahead and hold your breath, I'm sure it won't be long before they jump on).

Re:What the hell? (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817083)

I had never even heard of the song before I saw this (not in US), gotta be the best production quality of any flash animation ever! and they've given the song free advertising and as far as i can tell its in exactly the spirit of the original song, what are these people complaining about?

Native Americans have a lot more to be pissed abou (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9817093)

The Native Americans should be pissed because of their portrayal in a song? I guess they finally got over the last 500+ years of American history then.

Seems like satire to me (4, Insightful)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817022)

They're probably making fun of Bush, not Woody Guthrie. They're just using Woody Guthrie's song to enhance their parody. Penny arcade had a simular problem when they did a comic about "American McGee's Strawberry Shortcake". Actually, Penny Arcade might have been able to win that case (the commic had Strawberry dolled up like a Dominatrix, and you could argue they where making fun of her overly sweet image by showing her in that light). Now, I haven't seen this flash, but I'm guessing it in no way makes fun of Folk songs/signers.

Now, the irony is having a champion of the little guy (Woody Guthrie), having his works controled by large corporations. Gotta love it.

It doesnt mean anything anymore (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817031)

At the end of the day, ive seen it, you've seen it, they've seen it, and if it gets taken down it will be back on numerous other sites, emails or file-sharing networks. With internet memes there are no cease and desists. How about a copyright law that says even if you dont agree to the use someone wants to put your copyrighted work to, you still have no choice but to accept it and take their pre-defined royalty payment? or am i on crack?

Take it easy...but take it! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9817040)

Woody would have loved it!

Re:Take it easy...but take it! (2, Interesting)

applef00 (574694) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817173)

Amen to that. Woodie Guthrie was all about giving his songs to the people. As many have already posted, he was all for people using his songs however they wanted. Even leaving that aside, however, this is quite obviously parody, and thus protected.

Can't South Park sue them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9817042)

The whole thing looks suspiciously like something Trey and Matt would make.

On the animation itself... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9817058)

I just have one suggestion to improve the ending.

Nader: "This really sucks."

Perot: "Tell me about it."

Don'tcha all know.... (5, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817074)

.... its freedom of speech but only when you say what I want to hear.....

Not a Parody? (2, Insightful)

Cytlid (95255) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817081)

How can anyone say the song wasn't making fun of the original? By changing the lyrics and making about something else, it *is* a parody. It takes the original "this land is your land, this land is my land" and pokes fun at it ... sure sounds like a parody to me.

Besides, wasn't the original just a song and not a flash animation/video? SO, let a blind guy listen to the song and then to the "parody" in question and ask him if it's making fun of the original... if that guy happens to be a judge, end of case.

It's A Parody (1)

Goo.cc (687626) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817096)

and that is protected by the first admendment. 2 Live Crew went through this a few years ago over a parody and won in the Supreme Court. This will fail too.

Play your own copy. Ad free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9817101)

Just look for 3.8MB file in your browser local cache. Add .swf extension and play it in your browser.
Bigger picture, no ads.

Doug

JibJab may not need to worry. (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817105)

JibJab,

It's PARODY. The precedent has been set in New York, back in the Saturday Night Live days. I remember back in 2001 or 2002 listnening to CNET Radio when they used to be on the air. Desmond Crisis or Alex Bennett (think Bennett) was on SNL (Saturday Night Live).

They used to do a skit, "You run for your life in fear!", a parody on "There's more to your life a Sears" or something like that. Their skit was on Apartheid, in Africa. It insulted or offended Sears, and they sued, but the case was settled, and mainly because, according the attorney and the judge, PARODY has to have a certain element of familiarity. Otherwise it is NOT recognizable enough to be laughed at. If it is so filtered or watered down in the fear of going beyond protected speech, then the effect of parody is nullifed. Thus, no parody, no stand-up comics, no alterations of stories, etc.

The lawyer for the company suing JibJab might need a jab in the ass to wake up to reality. Get a life.

In a little bit, maybe tonight, I'll post my renditions of UnderDog and Gilligan's Island, two songs I modified by lyrics to exorcise or cope with my having been laid off by a company that turned my life upside down. It took me from Jan 31, 2001 to Feb 8, 2004 to find a permanent job.

Stay tuned...

Underdong/Underdog.

You'll neHVUR see the headlinez read;
that wall street's filled with FILTH and GREED;
supporting, pushing Kompaneez;
Driven by an Effving NEED
for MURJ Frenzy;
Murje frenzee
Merge Frinzee
Mirge Frinzy,

Buhy a Subsid-
Clohz the Murjer;
Politik them,
Cross bought werkers-
Subsume them,
hAh-hah-ahh-ahh-
Subsyoom them,
Sbusyume them...

Tho Now the Murjer has completed;
Frightend werkers HAVE retreated;
Still there needs to be sum BLEEDING;
Because-the-new-headcount-is-still too EFVING HIGH!!!

Efving High,

Efffing High
Effving High
PUrgue some headcount
Freeze the vesting
Kissup to scald-street
Pine their blessing
Whatever...
itt-itt-tay-ay-ay-akes
wha tever
whattever..."

(it goes on a bit more... but I'll have to look at my script and post the verbatim)

I also prewarned that prev employer that under precedent in New York, parody permits me to say this, name them, and publish it.

Hell, I sat on the toiled innumerable days and nights wondering how I would save my mortgage. The paltry severance was vastly less than what the CEO and typical CEOs get after whacking the hell out of headcount.

David Syes

Parts of Gilligans' Island parody, not really against GI, but against my former employer:

"Jusss-sit RIGHT back,
and you'll hear a tale,
a tail of a fate-ful MERJ;
That started with the Divi-Cubes
But the DiVvees would be PURGED

The Skipper was a VC's man,
and controlled by the B-O-D.."

(Wait for the rest....)
David Syes..

this log is your log (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9817127)

anyone know if "the simpsons" got in trouble for that epsisode with the "this log is your log" song?

So true. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9817130)

I hate songs about freedom.

OB (3, Insightful)

Heem (448667) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817139)

This log is your log
This log is my log
When lightning struck it
It kicked the bucket!

I poured some onions
Inside my trousers

This log, it used to be a tree
Now it spreads love to you and me
Hey look, it's headed out to sea!

OT Flash and linux (1)

Sark666 (756464) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817142)

Some flash still skyrockets my cpu usage, but all flash has sound lag issues. In this clip the sound is about a full second behind the animation. Any way of fixing that?

TRO == RIAA? (1)

Southpaw018 (793465) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817149)

I give not a whit if it's a funny satire or a funny parody. Myself and everyone I know that's politically-minded (and most of my friends are) thought this little flash animation absolutely hysterical. In fact, my Mom was -mad- at me for not telling her right away when I saw it.

The only people who seem to be pissed off about this whole situation are those who stand to make money from its destruction. The guys at JibJab stopped charging for the downloads because they stopped caring about the cash. TRO started caring about the cash and now they look like the RIAA song nazis.

CNN excerpt (5, Funny)

ejaw5 (570071) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817185)

http://money.cnn.com/2004/07/26/commentary/wastler /wastler/

Right now lawyers for both sides are just hurling threatening letters at one another. If the dispute ends up in court, it'll be interesting.

TRO: "You've hurt our music!"

Jibjab: "You've got no humor!"

Both: "This judge will surely side with me!"

Barbie song (1)

IBX (793635) | more than 9 years ago | (#9817195)

The band Aqua got sued for their Barbie song. Mattel lost - even though the song used copyrighted Barbie slogans, verbatim.
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