This Suit Was Settled for You and Me

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The JibJab case, which I wrote about on this site last month, has come to a happy conclusion. The Electronic Frontier Foundation reports:

Music publisher Ludlow Music, Inc., has officially backed down on its threats against web animation studio JibJab Media Inc. over the widely circulated "This Land" animated parody lampooning President Bush and Senator Kerry….As part of the settlement of the case, JibJab will remain free to continue distributing the "This Land" animation without further interference from Ludlow.

The more JibJab's lawyers looked into the issue, the weaker the publisher's case appeared to be. It seems the copyright on "This Land Is Your Land" might have expired way back in 1973, when the publisher failed to renew it. Ludlow disputes this—it believes the copyright didn't have to be renewed until 1984—but it apparently preferred not to have the matter decided in court.

NEXT: Secret Lovers

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  1. Yeah, Ludlow probably didn’t want anyone to go poking around in the songs they claim to own to verify if they actually do. It’s much better for them to make the loud initial scream, try to get a quick negotiated settlement, and then back down quick if they get a fight, saying that ‘public goodwill’ or some such supposedly altruistic reason is more important… this time. More and more, legal cases are all about the big press releases and charges, not about any actual facts.

  2. The bigger issue is copyright law. Woodie Guthrie has been dead for decades. Why do we allow copyright law to protect intellectual property and pay royalties to grandchildren who didn’t contribute anything to the creation of the original work?

    The founding fathers realized the importance of protecting inventions and ideas, but they also saw the value of releasing these works to the general public after the inventor/author had earned a fair return on their labor.

    Corporations have jumped on the copyright/patent bandwagon and used their influence to extend these rights almost to perpetuity. The worst offender is Disney. They zealously guard the copyright on Mickey Mouse, etc, but shamelessly borrow from the public domain to create their biggest movies (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, etc).

    They should forfeit their copyright on Mickey Mouse due to lack of use. When was the last time Disney released a Mickey Mouse animated movie? Maybe they should let someone else have a turn at using the character in a feature film. I’ll bet Pixar could do something with fun and interesting with the character.

    Maybe their strategy is to claim that Mickey Mouse is not a character anymore, but a trademark symbol. That would allow them to keep the image locked up after their 90 year(!) copyright expires.

  3. “Woodie Guthrie has been dead for decades. Why do we allow copyright law to protect intellectual property and pay royalties to grandchildren who didn’t contribute anything to the creation of the original work?”

    I think all the latest efforts to extend copyrights stink, but Guthrie does have a famous primary heir still living, a son by the name of Arlo.

  4. Uhh….

    There’s a NEW Mickey, Donald & Goofy flick out on video.

    http://disney.go.com/disneyvideos/animatedfilms/threemusketeers/home.html

    Of course, nobody named Dumas is getting any royalties.

    Kevin

  5. If Ludlow’s case was so weak, why did the Jib Jab lawyers agree to give them a portion of any money gained anyway?

    Turns out it was all just a money-grab for these lawyers.

  6. If Ludlow’s case was so weak, why did the Jib Jab lawyers agree to give them a portion of any money gained anyway?

    Where did you read that? I read that they were donating the money to the Woody Guthrie Foundation, which is a different organization entirely.

  7. (1) Since Woody Guthrie was a Commie, isn’t it appropriate that his music be taken for the common good? (2) The really funny thing about JibJab is that it is on a higher intellectual level than the actual campaign…

  8. I stand corrected.

    The plot of the video, however, underscores my other point. Disney has no compunction about using the work of others in their movies, but they zealously guard an aging cartoon character by having Congress extend the copyright law for corporations from 70 years to 90 years.

    Notice that the web site celebrates Mickey’s 75th anniversary. If Disney hadn’t taken action, Mickey would now be in the public domain.

    Has Disney created any characters subsequent to Mickey Mouse that aren’t based upon someone else’s work? I can’t think of any. In fact, they have basically given up on creating any new ideas in the animated world. Pixar has taken that crown for themselves.

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