Friday, October 5, 2007

Family Guy

Family Guy has been sued for an episode where Peter Griffin, one of the main characters, sings "I need a Jew," set to the tune of "When You Wish Upon A Star." 

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the show, Family Guy is comedy cartoon focusing on pop culture satire/parody. In the "infringing song," Peter explains his poor financial skils and decides that he needs to hire a jewish person to manage his money. Here is the complaint, courtesy of the WSJ, (typos and all). Although the lyrics were technically antisemetic, the song was clearly intended in good fun and I doubt anyone, other than someone who finds Family Guy offensive overall, would be in any way consider the parody as a factor in valuing the tune negatively. The show is often politicaly incorrect, but rarely if ever mean spirited. Can a case be made that The Family Guy's parody has decreased the value of "When You Wish Upon A Star"? Come-on! In fact, the parody exposure (like the exposure the plaintiffs attorneys are gaining from this lawsuit) probably has positive marketing value. If anything has hurt the value of the tune, it is the fact that the copyright holder, Bourne Co., is bringing this lawsuit. As sympathetic as I am for plaintiff's lawyers going after deep pockets, that's just not right. Not only am I a Family Guy fan, I am also a fan of the First Amendment.

I hope the Seth Macfarlane does a parody of overzealous copyright infringment and defamation lawsuits next.

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