This Land is Your Land [Updated]

[via Guile] Woody Guthrie’s classic folk song, This Land is Your Land, is the basis for JibJab’s funny Flash animation featuring John Kerry and George Bush trading insults:

“You’re a U.N. pussy…”

“Kick ass!”

The Richmond Organization is the publishing company that owns the rights to Guthrie’s classic, and they’re a little peeved at the JibJab animators.
They think the parody, which is getting hits in the millions, is
“damaging” the song. There’s probably not much that they can do, as parody (“an imitation which ridicules another’s work or as any burlesque or
risque occurence that would not happen in an original instance”) is protected speech.

It’s called fair use, and it’s not dead yet.

Addendum: Cory in BoingBoing points out that Woody Guthrie’s standard copyright notice was:

“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.”

5 replies on “This Land is Your Land [Updated]”

As many people have pointed out in the discussions that this event has generated, parody (a piss-take on the song itself) is protected speech that is covered by fair use, but satire (using the song to ridicule someone other than either the author or the performer) is not.

I was aware of that: I always use Weird Al’s Smells Like Nirvana as an example of parody, since it pokes fun at the song amd the band, while another tune of his, Like a Surgeon, is satire, since his new lyrics have nothing to do with the song.
I interpreted the Flash treatment as parody since it plays with the concepts in Guthrie’s song and just happens to use “Bush” and “Kerry” as its singers. Mind you, the joke doesn’t work if you don’t use those characters, so I guess the song falls under the category of satire, not parody, and I will conced that legal point.
I will stand by my assertion that the Ricmond Corporation are being asses.

Oh, they are asses all right; and I am sure this treatment of Guthrie’s song will mean they get to sell more of the original copies!

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