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Censorship The Internet United States

Parody or Satire? Threat To Sue JibJab 710

Posted by timothy
from the ask-roy-orbison dept.
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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Parody or Satire? Threat To Sue JibJab

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  • by beeplet (735701) <beeplet@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:02PM (#9816894) Journal
    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 (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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!

    • by August_zero (654282) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:16PM (#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.
    • by kfg (145172) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:25PM (#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
    • by javaxman (705658) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:29PM (#9817161) Journal
      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.

      • by RazzleFrog (537054) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:39PM (#9817248)
        Do you really believe that it is just the republicans that are pushing heavy copyright enforcement? That would be completely ignorant of the fact that DMCA was signed by Clinton, that the biggest proponent in copyright extension, Senator "Disney" Hollings, is a Democract, and that most of Hollywood and the music industry are democrats.

        Maybe the "good-ol'-fashion power-to-the-people" democrats believed in something different but that isn't what the party is about now. Hell Kerry could become the richest president ever.
        • by Izago909 (637084) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <dogsiuat>> on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @08:14PM (#9817546)
          Do you really believe that it is just the republicans that are pushing heavy copyright enforcement?

          Dems, Repbs.... what's the difference? They are each a different means to the same end... the reduction of personal rights in favor of corporate rights.

          [RANT] Around election time when the patriotic propaganda comes out attempting to make people feel bad for not voting there is usually one message behind it all. "If you are not voting, what does are you saying?" I'm saying plenty by not voting. "Americas 2 party electoral system is a sham, and I won't participate. Choosing between the lesser of 2 evils is not liberty or freedom." Hell, even Communist Russia had elections. You could choose between the hard handed communist in corner A, or the hard handed communist in corner B.[/RANT]
          • by dabraun (626287) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @08:26PM (#9817640)
            Uhm, vote for someone else? The fact that one of those two parties will win (and yes, I agree, it sucks) doesn't change the fact you can send a message by voting for some *other* candidate - and it's a much stronger message that not voting at all.
            • While I generally agree with the sentiment, right now there is a substantive difference in foreign policy approach taken by the Democratic party and Republican party as a whole, and the current negative perceptions of Americans, the rejection of multilateralism and inability to cooperate with foreign nations ("coalition of the willing"... give me a break). This difference is why voting for Kerry is important. That and the fact that Bush is truly an idiot - I know I don't feel good about anybody _that_ dum
            • I've already replied, but...

              Exactly what message do you think is sent by: voting for some other candidate that cannot possibly win?

              Because I think there isn't one, I think the one of the two potential winners looking at your vote will say: Damn, why can't they see voting for x is a waste of time?? But do your really think it will change their behaviour? More than voting for them?

              Let me put it like this... Say you're a left-wing commie (same argument applies to nazi gun-nuts). You could vote for DEM, or
          • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker @ g mail.com> on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @08:28PM (#9817645) Journal
            You should still go and vote. Vote for a third party canidate. If there is none, write a name in, or something. This way its counted as a vote for neither, and potentially, just maybe, neither canidate will get 50% of the vote. Forcing a runoff in many states.
          • by southpolesammy (150094) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @09:15PM (#9817934) Journal
            Yeah, pretty much what I've been saying to friends and colleagues so far this election year. Basically...
            Our choices this year are to vote for the militaristic, plutocratic Yale graduate, or you can try to change things and vote for the militaristic, plutocratic Yale graduate.

            • This is not insightful. Wealthy != plutocrat. In fact, Kerry's reputation in Massachusetts is as the senator who is NOT responsive to big business interests, relative to Ted Kennedy at least (and this has been confirmed by CEOs of large Mass. based companies).

              Military service != militaristic. And the authorizing vote in Congress does not count as militarism either - I'm not saying I agree with that particular vote of Kerry's, but he was not on the Intelligence Committee and did not have access to all o

          • Write in "No Vote" when you vote.
          • by bodrell (665409) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @09:41PM (#9818091) Journal
            "If you are not voting, what does are you saying?" I'm saying plenty by not voting. "Americas 2 party electoral system is a sham, and I won't participate. Choosing between the lesser of 2 evils is not liberty or freedom."
            You may be saying something, but no one is listening. I agree totally with your sentiment, but I also voted for Nader in the last TWO elections (I wrote him in in 1996, and all you democrats blaming Bush's presidency on Nader can go to hell). Even if you don't vote, you can make your voice heard in more meaningful ways. Try to engage people in conversation (not argument). Most Republicans hate big government, and are pretty pissed about all the spending Bush is doing. A lot of people choose their candidates based on issues, not on parties, so a lot of those who voted pro-Bush were actually voting anti-abortion, or anti-gun control. But you know what? Russ Feingold is a democratic senator from Wisconsin who opposes gun control too. Bush, however, expressed support for an "assault weapon" ban even though he's a Republican.

            I don't know what, if anything, you're doing to help enact change; but regardless of what statement you're trying to make, neglecting/choosing not to vote won't send a message to the authorities.

          • by Daetrin (576516) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @09:43PM (#9818099)
            "If you are not voting, what does are you saying?" I'm saying plenty by not voting. "Americas 2 party electoral system is a sham, and I won't participate. Choosing between the lesser of 2 evils is not liberty or freedom."

            And whose fault is it that we've got a 2 party system? YOURS!!!

            Sure our current election system encourages a two party system, but it's not writ in stone, you could change the system, or at least see that one of the two parties was one worth voting for, but you're just sitting on your ass instead.

            I give a damn about my country, so even though i think the democrats aren't that different from the republicans (well, other than the hard core fundamentalist republicans like Bush anyways) i think that difference is worth fighting for. There ar probably third parties out there i agree with more, but i'm more interested in results than fantasies. If i see party X which i really like with less than 5% support and the democrats who i somewhat agree with at 50% plus or minus a critical couple percent, i'm going to vote for the democrats. Lesser evil all the way.

            YOU however aren't helping at all! You're not trying to get the lesser evil into office, and you're not trying to get the _good_ people into office either! If you won't vote for the lesser evil, get out there and vote for the people you actually support! About 50% of the population doesn't vote in most elections. If they all happened to agree on someone that's enough to get _anyone_ elected, and even if they didn't agree it's certainly enough to help shake things up. If you and everyone else who claims they don't like the two party system went out and voted for parties X, Y and Z, then X Y and Z would be getting 15-20% each, and the democrats and republicans would be down to around 25%. At _that_ point people would realize they could switch away from the democrats and republicans and make a real difference.

            Either you're just too lazy to get off your ass on election day, and you claim you're protesting against the "system" to cover up for it, or you just haven't really thought about the issue. Not voting doesn't send any kind of message, at least not the one you think. The politicians and those of us who vote just think it means you're lazy or stupid. Voting for a third party candidate _does_ send a message.

            Whatever you think of Nader (personally i think he's a lying hypocritical bastard who is certainly a worse choice than the democrats) you have to admit that the 3-5% who actually voted for a third party sent a much louder and clearer message than did you and the others in the subset of the 40-50% who didn't vote because they "object to the two party system." It's only a two party system because you refuse to vote for the third parties!

    • by kaden (535652) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:29PM (#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.

    • > 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!

      Ironic -- the original song's sign didn't say "no trespassin", it said "private property".

      And on that note: It's pretty weak filk, but it's the best I can do in 30 seconds. Hey, it's Slashdot, whaddya expect, Woody Guthrie or something?

      I went to jib-jab - to hear some comedy,
      Heard a RIAA landshark - talkin' 'bout his I-P,

  • Pretty obvious (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dark404 (714846) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:03PM (#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.
    • For us homely normal talkers, ergo ipso facto means "therefore by this fact", or "Latin makes arguements sound smarter".
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Definition of Satire [m-w.com] according to m-w.com:

      One entry found for satire.
      Main Entry: satire
      Pronunciation: 'sa-"tIr
      Function: noun
      Etymology: Middle French or Latin; Middle French, from Latin satura, satira, perhaps from (lanx) satura dish of mixed ingredients, from feminine of satur well-fed; akin to Latin satis enough -- more at SAD
      1 : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn
      2 : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly
      synonym see WIT

      • Huh? I'm much more inclined to believe that the definition of satire applies.

        One entry found for satire.
        1 : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn

        Yup, it's ridiculing the low intellectual level of the presidential debate thus far.

        2 : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly
        I'd say it's exposing the folly that is this presidential election.

        Main Entry: parody
        1 : a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or wo
    • Re:Pretty obvious (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nacturation (646836)
      Can't it be both? It's satirizing the elections by using a parody of the song.
    • Re:Pretty obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dashing Leech (688077) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @08:16PM (#9817556)
      The intent is to make a political message about the government not to parady the song.

      Not so fast. The primary intent was to make political satire. However, this song was chosen specifically to contrast the political status with the message of the song. As well, the song often used to promote patriotism by those running, and running for, government despite the fact that it is very anti-government.

      If they had just picked a random song, you'd probably be right. But because of the specifics of the contrast between the original song message, current political status, and typical use of the song by government, it seems to be very much a parody. IANAL, but I think there's a solid argument there for parody. AFAIK, the parody doesn't have to be the primary intent of the song to make it fair use.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:05PM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rgoldste (213339) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:05PM (#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 (Score:3, Informative)

      by maxpublic (450413)
      It's pretty clear that the flash animation in question does not make fun of the actual song

      It's pretty clear you've never listened to the lyrics of the actual song. Yes, it's satire of both political parties and the entire election process; but this song was picked *for a reason*. If you want to know the reason, check out the original lyrics and listen to JibJab's version again.

      It's hilarious, and quite witty. And satire or not, it also qualifies as a parody of the original song. I think Guthrie woul
    • Re:satire vs. parody (Score:4, Informative)

      by ktheory (64289) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @08:39PM (#9817725) Homepage
      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.

      I disagree. The original song is about America in general. It addressed social and political issues such as land ownership and welfare. Read the lyrics [songlyrics4u.com].

      The Jib Jab song features the two presidential candidates, but also Bill Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger--singing Guthrie's original line "From California, to the New York Island". It also has the Native American being overshadowed by huge shopping centers. And there are the generalizations about the economic classes that Kerry and Bush represent, different attitudes towards war, etc.

      In short, the Jib Jab song is not just about Kerry and Bush, but it's a parady of American culture, just as Guthrie's original was a critique of American culture. Since the Jib Jab song addresses the original content of the work, it is fair use.
  • by MisterLawyer (770687) <mikelawyerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:06PM (#9816946)
    Oh, sorry, I thought the title said "Threat To Sue JarJar"
  • by bfields (66644) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:06PM (#9816947) Homepage
    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

    • 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."
    • by thogard (43403) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:25PM (#9817125) Homepage
      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?
      • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:31PM (#9817184) Homepage
        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.
        • If Guthrie was willing to sell his rights -- and no one could get 'em otherwise -- then that's the end of his involvement.

          Actually Guthrie is dead so whatever rights he might or might not have to the music would have reverted to his heirs, whoever they were possibly people chosen by the state if he died without a will.

          So Guthrie might never have sold the rights to this song - but they could have been sold to whomever brought the suit - and this is possibly or even probably against the artist's (Guthrie's
        • Don't forget, copyright is currently life+75, which means something written in 1918 could easily stay out of the public domain for a number of decades.

          Quoting from http://law.wustl.edu/WULQ/75-3/753-5.html

          [1.]According to the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers' ("ASCAP") electronic search database, ACE, ASCAP owns the copyrights to "God Bless America," written by Irving Berlin and "Puff The Magic Dragon," written by Peter Yarrow. ASCAP's Ace on the Web (visited Mar. 10, 1997) . I
          • copyright is currently life+75, which means something written in 1918 could easily stay out of the public domain for a number of decades.

            Not exactly. I know of nowhere that copyright is life+75; life+70 is the general standard, although Mexico is life+100, Canada and Australia is life+50, and many of the less industralized countries have shorter terms.

            More to the point, the US is not life+70; it's life+70 for works published after 1978, with a few exceptions. Works published before 1923 lapsed into the p
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:07PM (#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.
    • We sang it this way on the playground... This land is my land. This land ain't your land. This land was made for only me. I got a shot gun, and you ain't got one. If you don't get off, I'll blow your head off. This land is my land. This land ain't your land This land is private property.
  • by LeahofRivendell (797671) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:07PM (#9816956) Journal
    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
  • by DavidBrown (177261) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:10PM (#9816982) Journal
    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.

    • Wrong. (Score:3, Informative)

      That's false, as others have pointed out. It's true that the courts will look at how much of a work is used in another work when determining fair use, but that is only one factor to consider and they have been correctly reluctant to make a hard and fast rule about how much use of a work is OK. The big copyright case involving parody is the 2 live crew case; they used the entire song though changed the lyrics, just like Weird Al does, and the Court held that as parody it was strongly protected. Political
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:10PM (#9816991)
    that was the intro song to Robbin Hood (the DISNEY CARTOON) simpy sped up.... it was identical.... nobody ever said anything to them
  • 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? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:13PM (#9817016) Homepage Journal
    "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).

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:14PM (#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.
  • by 3seas (184403) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:19PM (#9817074) Journal
    .... its freedom of speech but only when you say what I want to hear.....
  • Not a Parody? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cytlid (95255) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:20PM (#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.
    • Re:Not a Parody? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by stubear (130454) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @08:06PM (#9817488)
      No, this song isn't making fun of the original, it's poking fun at the 2004 US elections and the candidates for both parties. The song is simply the means to an end and JibJab could have just as easily picked any number of songs about America for the tune.

      Before the mods kick this post into oblivion note this, this doesn't mean I think JibJab's animatin wasn't funny, it just means I can see why this could be construed as an infringing satire and not a legitimate pardoy.
  • OB (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Heem (448667) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:26PM (#9817139) Homepage Journal
    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!
  • CNN excerpt (Score:5, Funny)

    by ejaw5 (570071) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:31PM (#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!"
  • by HBI (604924) <kparadine@gma i l . c om> on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:33PM (#9817197) Homepage Journal
    Political satire now has to be hosted outside the US because of stupid laws.

    The copyright on this song should have expired years ago. I hope Congress is proud of itself.
  • by bullitB (447519) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:36PM (#9817222)
    I'm not sure if we can trust Wikipedia, but any man who says [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." ...very likely wouldn't be too concerned about people changing his song in any way. Perhaps a bit sad is the fact that he's been dead for almost 40 years, and yet that copyright he thought would last only 28 years is still in effect.
  • by SpecBear (769433) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @07:52PM (#9817369)
    Back when I was grade school, we sang our own version of the song:

    This land is my land.
    This land ain't your land.
    I've got a shotgun
    And you ain't got one.
    If you don't get off
    I'll blow your head off.
    This land was made for only me.

    Fortunately, the lawyers never showed up at the playground to shut us down.
    • by crimethinker (721591) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @08:37PM (#9817718)
      Or how about"

      Glory, glory, hallelujah
      Teacher hit me with a ruler
      Met her at the door
      With a loaded 44
      And she ain't my teacher no more!

      Nowadays, songs like these get you expelled under "zero tolerance" policies. Hell, I remember when we did the Christmas gift exchange, I brought a cap gun. The lucky bastard who drew my number was the "cop" that day during the playground game of "cops and robbers." Nobody, teachers included, said jack. Try to imagine how many people would wet their pants, not even at the sound of a cap gun on a playground, but at the very fact that a crude facsimile of a pistol was on school grounds at all.

      I worry that we're teaching kids how to appreciate a totalitarian society, and worse, that some people are happy about it.

      -paul

  • Misuse of copyrights (Score:4, Interesting)

    by darin3200 (791186) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @08:08PM (#9817500)
    This is the kind of gross misuse of copyrights that is appalling. A little digging around on the Google and we can see that author of this song is Woody Gurthrie who lived from 1912-1967. Now assuming Woody Gurthrie wrote this song on the year of his death under the original copyright laws this work would have passed into public domain by 1999. But due to lobbying efforts of the music and movie industry this period has been extended to before the Great Depression! This isn't all that important though because it is still copyrighted regardless of former laws. However, what is important is that this song on JibJab isn't the exact song by Woody Gurthrie that was copyrighted, it is cleary a derivative work that is based on a copyrighted work but which adds a creative element that goes far beyond what Woody Gurthrie ever did. This is an issues talked about extensivly throughout the book Freeculture by Lawrence Lessig which is freely downloadable at his site [free-culture.cc]. One example given in the book is how many great works where based on copyrighted works before them that had not yet entered public domain such as Disney movies or Japanese comics. The general idea is that although new works are based on older copyrighted ones it doesn't hurt the original copyright holder and serves to stimulate the growth of culture. For more information check out FreeCulture.org [freeculture.org]
  • by johnlcallaway (165670) * on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @10:04PM (#9818223)
    What a freakin riot. It's refreshing to find someone that can poke the appropriate amount of fun at both parties without getting too wrapped up any moore.

    The swf file can be found here [shockwave.com] so you don't have to deal with the ads and can save it on your own drive. Show the corporate types what the Internet is all about, sharing.
  • by VValdo (10446) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @10:07PM (#9818255)
    Much has been said about Guthrie's standard copyright notice to do whatever you want with his music, but I haven't read anything yet about the "folk process [aol.com]" to which Guthrie and his contemporaries such as Pete Seeger (who was in the folk group "The Weavers" and is still alive) depended on.

    What was the folk process [uk.net]?

    In short, it was the age-old practice Guthrie and others used of taking old music and writing new words. Just like a folk-tale is a story that has been told and changed as time goes on.

    When the Weavers took [Guthrie's] 'So Long (It's Been Good To Know Yuh)' into the pop charts '51, the song had been written originally to cheer up migrant workers, adapted as a patriotic war song and as a jingle for selling pipe tobacco; far from being outraged, Woody was there in the studio, helping the Weavers adapt it yet again: 'For better or worse,' wrote Colin Irwin in Mojo '97, 'this was the folk process at work.'

    As Seeger says [berkshireweb.com],

    "My father was more sensible. He said to think of the folk process as something that has gone on through the ages. The folk process occurs in cooking, with cooks rearranging recipes. And lawyers rearrange old laws to fit new citizens. If you look at it this way, then the true importance of folk music is to let ordinary folks change things."

    W
  • by Sevenfeet (657415) on Tuesday July 27, 2004 @10:47PM (#9818485)
    This potential case has already been decided in U.S. case law.

    The case that recently decided this issue on the federal level was SunTrust Bank v. Houghton Mifflin Co. It's the case where the estate of Margaret Mitchell, the author of "Gone With The Wind" went after Alice Randall, author of "The Wind Done Gone" for copyright infringement. The case claimed that it was illegal for Alice Randall to take the story and characters of Gone With The Wind, put it in a blender and use them to make a new story that made a social and political statement.

    The SunTrust Bank v. Houghton Mifflin Co. case was first affirmed for the plantiff but was overturned on appeal. The issues of that case aren't any different from this potential case. Can parody be defined as making a political satire or statement? Is it legal to take an entire previous work and use the characters and places and story line to make your own case for such parody?

    The reason I know about all of this is because it is very personal to me. Alice Randall is my sister-in-law. And in the end, the plantiff not only lost the case, but decided to contribute to charities dear to the defendant.

    You can read the case yourself. But if I were the holders of the Woody Guthrie copyright, I would read this case carefully and choose not to file. Because I guarentee that the defense will be using this case as the cornerstone of their argument.

    http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/suntrust/wdg5 31 01petrhr.pdf
  • Isn't it... (Score:3, Funny)

    by anothy (83176) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @05:24AM (#9819973) Homepage
    ironic?

    (please don't sue me!)

    woodie guthrie is so trying to climb out of his grave right now.

I took a fish head to the movies and I didn't have to pay. -- Fish Heads, Saturday Night Live, 1977.

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