« Why Who Can Sue Under the DMCA is Important |
| INDUCE Act (IICA) Press Roundup - 29 July 2004 »
July 29, 2004
EFF Defends JibJab Animation as Parody
WIRED writes a story on the JibJab controversy, looking fairly closely at the claims for and against fair use (Sue You: This Song Is Our Song). See also, this shorter Newsday article ('This Land' was made for comedy).
For a much more detailed analysis of the legal analysis, however, you can (and should) read the dueling letters between the legal representatives for the This Land is Your Land copyright holders and EFF, which is officially representing JibJab.
Ludlow's 4-page Cease and Desist Letter to JibJab's Lawyer: Re: JibJab Media Unauthorized Use of 'This Land is Your Land' [PDF]
Mr. Guthrie's musical composition is an iconic portrait of the beauty of the American landscape and the disenfranchisement of the underclass. As both a populist anthem and an ironic metaphor, "This Land Belongs to You and Me" contrasts a view of the "sparkling sands of her diamond deserts" and the sun shining on "wheat fields waving" with the city's working class in the "shadow of the steeple near the relief office" who grumble and wonder if such natural treasures embody their own experiece with this country. The Unauthorized Movie does not comment on those themes. Instead, Jib Jab merely uses Mr. Guthrie's lyrics and music as a convenient vehicle to caricature the partisan climate of the current presidential campaign. Although the combination of Mr. Guthrie's music with Jib Jab's script and animation is very funny, the caricaturing of the candidate's sound-byte attacks on each other does not transform the work into a parody of Mr. Guthrie's work.
EFF's 4-page Response to the C&D: Re: Jib Jab Media, Inc. and Ludlow Music, Inc. [PDF]
While your view of Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" as being predominantly about "the beauty of the American landscape" and "the disenfranchisement of the underclass" is interesting, most Americans think of the song as an iconic expression of the ideal of national unity. Jib Jab's parody addresses, among other things, the lack of national unity that characterizes our current political climate (ending with the optimistic hope that unity might be rediscovered). In short, "This Land" explores exactly the same themes as the Guthrie original, using the parodic device of contrast and juxtaposition to comment on the original. See Abilene Music v. Sony Music Entertainment, 320 F .Supp.2d 84, 90-91 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (emphasizing the role of contrast and juxtaposition as parodic devices). The parodic comment takes on an additional dimension of irony when viewed in light of the often omitted closing stanzas of Guthrie's original.
Read both letters, they do an excellent job of summarizing current law on these issues.
Bonus: EFF cites my claim that JibJab's use clearly parodies Guthrie's work in a footnote, "It is enough that the parody here is readily and objectively perceptible, as demonstrated by the fact that a variety of commentators already perceive it clearly" (Parody or Satire? iRaq Posters, JibJab Animation, Fuse's Silhouette Ads).
EFF's official announcement: Update on JibJab's "This Land". via Copyfight
UPDATE 2 31 July 2004
I've added a "JibJab Category to make following this story easier.
+ TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Culture | JibJab
- RELATED ENTRIES
- Kitchen Academy - Course II - Day 23
- Kitchen Academy - Course II - Day 22
- Kitchen Academy - Course II - Day 21
- Kitchen Academy - The Hollywood Cookbook and Guest Chef Michael Montilla - March 18th
- Kitchen Academy - Course II - Day 20
- Kitchen Academy - Course II - Day 19
- Kitchen Academy - Course II - Day 18
- Salsa Verde