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Ernest Miller Ernest Miller pursues research and writing on cyberlaw, intellectual property, and First Amendment issues. Mr. Miller attended the U.S. Naval Academy before attending Yale Law School, where he was president and co-founder of the Law and Technology Society, and founded the technology law and policy news site LawMeme. He is a fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Ernest Miller's blog postings can also be found @

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« Hatch's Hit List #16 - The New York Times | Main | JibJab Does File Lawsuit - "This Land" a Fair Use Parody »

July 31, 2004

JibJab Files Lawsuit for Right to Distribute Parody?

Posted by Ernest Miller

Bloomberg News is reporting that JibJab and EFF have actually filed a lawsuit to protect their right to distribute the parody (JibJab defends use of 'This Land'):

"This Land" was made for you and me, JibJab Media says in a lawsuit seeking the right to use the Woody Guthrie song This Land Is Your Land in an online parody of President Bush and Sen. John Kerry....JibJab, which is run by brothers Gregg and Evan Spiridellis, says in its suit, filed Thursday in San Francisco federal court, that the video is a parody and doesn't infringe on Ludlow Music's copyrights.
There is nothing on EFF's website that I could find and this is the only report of a lawsuit I've seen. I'm trying to confirm this report with EFF.

I've received anonymous confirmation that a lawsuit was filed (JibJab Does File Lawsuit - "This Land" a Fair Use Parody)

UPDATE 2 1350 PT
Seth Finkelstein has the court electronic database information (JibJab vs. Ludlow - Court Info).

Other JibJab News

The Dallas Morning News (annoying reg. req.) (Hits and Misses - July 31, 2004):

If this is danger, bring it on

The Richmond Organization is alleging that an online cartoon parodying the presidential race is causing "huge" damage to its copyright of Woody Guthrie's folk classic "This Land Is Your Land." But what it's really doing is adding some much-needed levity to a heated political season. The owners of the copyright are asking to stop distributing the cartoon that features John Kerry and George Bush as cartoon characters singing new words to the patriotic ditty. As obvious political satire, it's surely protected free speech. It's irreverent. It's funny. It jabs both sides. The true danger would be a lack of good satire in a presidential election year. [emphasis in original]

With regard to JibJab the Blawg Channel points to Stanford's Copyright & Fair Use Center for more information on the issues involved (Research Site of the Day).

USA Today had an odd column about the JibJab phenomenon. The article doesn't discuss the copyright issues, but is bizarre enough that I thought I'd point it out (This Net was made for you and me and the rest of the world).

I've now added a "JibJab Category" to my lists of categories to make following the story easier.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Culture | JibJab


1. hognoxious on July 31, 2004 10:37 PM writes...

USA Today article is 'bizarre'? You're either exceptionally polite or a master of understatement.

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2. background screening on August 1, 2004 03:08 AM writes...

I'm continuously amazed at what depths people are required to go to just to protect what should obviously be protected rights.

For Pete's sake, it shouldn't take a rocket scientist (or a judge) to see that what they've created is a parody. Somehow though, the sword-rattling gets going, and things escalate for no reason.

I guess I should just be thankful that neither party has tried to scare them with a cease-and-desist for some kind of defamation or whatnot.

C'mon Guthrie folks, just enjoy the extra attention the song is getting. Maybe if you were smart you'd offer to team up with jibjab and offer downloads of the song for $.99 on itunes.

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