Mashup kings threaten other mashups

Everyone loves JibJab, sure, and their new spot that pokes at Wal-Mart while not actually naming the giant retailer is pretty cute. But as it turns out, these guys who once took shelter in the First Amendment for their use of "This Land is Your Land" are now threatening others who've used their work with legal action.

Ludlow Music, which had owned the copyright to original Woody Guthrie tune, sued JibJab for infringement when they published the cartoon that made them famous during the 2004 election season. JibJab, with the aid of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, got the suit dropped because the copyright to the tune was never renewed, and thus the song is now public domain.

Now JibJab has sent Black Lantern a cease and desist letter for using nine seconds of "This Land" in a video mashup of "George Bush Doesn't Like Black People." [VIDEO] WFMU's blog has a great breakdown comparing the two cases:


In JibJab's original lawsuit with Ludlow Music, they made their argument for fair use based on a few arguments (very nicely summarized here)z;

1) JibJab's work was supposedly "clearly transformative" and non-commercial in nature (the JibJab people argue they made no money)

2) "Regarding the amount of copying Jib Jab argued that the 'quantity' of borrowing is not relevant where a parody is transformative and easily perceptible"

3) Jib Jab asserted that its video did not harm the market for Woody Guthrie's original work.

[...] Now let's look at how these arguments stack up against Black Lantern's use of the JibJab material in his video:

1) The Black Lantern video is non commercial in nature (unlike JibJab the Black Lantern sells no merchandise on his site) and is "clearly transformative".

2) The Black Lantern video borrows 9 non-contiguous SECONDS of material while the jib jab clip consists of 2 contiguous MINUTES of its source material. Each of the offending clips in the Lantern video is no more than 2 seconds.

3) The Black Lantern video clearly does not harm the market for JibJab's original work.

It would seem that when you're landing sweet distribution deals with Yahoo! and MSN, the ability to wiggle the First Amendment gets a little bit easier. Black Lantern has remixed the without the video offending nine seconds, but I sure hope he's on the horn with the EFF himself.
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