south park

'What, What'? Missing South Park Already?

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Still bummed South Park's 19th season series is over?

It's tough—I know—rewatching Cartman's deflategate hallucination for the umpteenth time, sharing a laugh around the water cooler over Mr. Garrison's Trump-like hatred of illegal Canadian immigrants, wishing PC Principal's violent P.C. outbursts were real.

Okay, maybe not "wishing" that exactly.

While South Park's dark farce fits perfectly in its bright cartoon universe, the show's use of pop cultural references for its parodies has lead to real world consequences—particulary when it comes to copyright. 

Electronic Frontier Foundation's Parker Higgins recently sat down with Reason TV to explain how scene of Butters dancing in his own homoerotic version of 'What, What (in the Butt)' wound up in the most widely cited lawsuit in courtrooms of the last five years and inadvertently expanded free speech for everyone.

In 2010, EFF became unlikely allies with media giant Viacom—the owner of South Park—who was sued by Brownmark Films after a 2008 episode called "Canada on Strike" parodied a popular viral video by musician Samwell.

The case eventually made its way to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals where the judges ruled in favor of South Park and Viacom. The ruling has become an important one in entertainment law because it says that a fair use lawsuit can be stopped before going to trial—which can help content creators avoid the huge costs of litigation brought on by frivolous copyright lawsuits.

"Under the Supreme Court this is the highest precedent that you can have—that this Butters video is fair use," Higgins says. "The thing that's a little less fun is the fact it can stop lawsuits early."

So why wait for the next season of South Park to start? Under fair use, you (and a very close friend) can star in own homoerotic homage to Tweek x Craig. How kawaii!