Will Fox Sue Congress For Simpsons Parody?

from the d'oh! dept

If you follow politics outside of the tech world you've probably seen plenty of talk in the last week or so about the battle over SCHIP, the State Children's Health Insurance Program. The details of the debate really aren't worth getting into on a tech/business news site, but a bunch of Republican Congressmen put out what can only be considered a parody press release using characters from the TV show The Simpsons to try to highlight their side of the debate. This was so random and bizarre that a few people actually wondered if the Republican site had been hacked. That turned out not to be the case, but apparently none of the Representatives who put together the mock press release sought the approval of Twentieth Century Fox, who apparently is not at all happy that Simpsons characters are being used in this manner: "Twentieth Century Fox was unaware of the illegal use of characters from The Simpsons in this press release. Let me assure you, Fox did not authorize this use. Characters from The Simpsons may not be used in this manner…" Some would argue that parody is covered by fair use, but that may only be true if the parody is of The Simpsons itself, rather than using them for a parody of something else. Either way, while Congress has been bending over backwards to give the entertainment industry everything it wishes when it comes to keeping control over their creative works, it seems that even those same Representatives can think of cases where it made perfect sense to them to make use of characters without having to first license them. Somehow, why do I get the feeling this lesson won't stick and these same Reps will have no problem putting in place more stringent copyright laws that eat away at fair use?


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Jeff, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 9:19am

    FOX will sue Republican Congressmen at about the same time as Dick Cheney finishes freezing his summer home.

     

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  2.  
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    OKVol, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 9:26am

    Let loose the hounds of war...

    Let's contact 20th Century Fox and express our outrage at this blatant misuse of the Simpsons. Homer, being a helpless as he is, needs our defense. Bart should never be used as a Republican shill - That is like having Moses holding a copy of the Koran.

    Come on folks, where is your righteous indignation? If someone is about to be drummed out of the halls of the Legislation for tapping his foot in a rest room, those responsible for this travesty should be ridden out of town on a rail!

     

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  3.  
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    OKVol, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 9:31am

    Here is an e-mail address

    askfox@fox.com is their public address. Let's each write an individual e-mail expressing our indignation. We can make a difference!

     

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  4.  
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    B, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 9:38am

    And we wonder

    I remember the days when people used to settle their problems without a lawsuit around every corner.

     

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  5.  
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    Gunnar, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 9:50am

    Only if

    I imagine their problem is not with the unauthorized use of their characters but the abysmal way they were used. It's not a parody so much as a nonsensical jumble of words.

     

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  6.  
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    Boost, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 9:53am

    Re: Let loose the hounds of war...

    Oh, get a life, hippie.

     

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  7.  
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    shmengie, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 10:15am

    fair use for some...

    the simpsons doesn't pull many punches in its parodies. while the creators, et al, might not like the GOP, isn't fair use a two-way street?

    besides, it's not like the GOP is using the simpsons' likenesses for profit. it's for power. sweet, delicious power...

     

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  8.  
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    Bob3000, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 10:23am

    That brutal parody is hosted on .gov servers? My tax money is payiong for the time to wriye and host that?

     

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  9.  
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    Bob3000, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 10:23am

    That brutal parody is hosted on .gov servers? My tax money is paying for the time to write and host that?

     

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  10.  
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    John Duncan Yoyo, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 10:35am

    Re:

    Heh, it is better than the amateur theatre groups on the C-Spans.

    Actually I'm pretty sure that the constitution holds actual congressmen and senators non-liable for this sort of thing while they are in office or at least serving in the capitol. Byrd used his copy of the pocket constitution to get out of traffic tickets for years.

     

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  11.  
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    Brad Eleven, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 10:41am

    GOP "Children's Health Fact of the Day"

    Gee, that's funny--this feature has only existed since the SCHIP controversy showed up. Thanks, GOP!!!

    I'm so happy that the House Republican's Committee on Energy and Commerce lent their webspace so generously to the important cause of limiting health care for children. I'm so glad that these wise minds realize how important it is to spend our taxes on war, instead of wasting it on the health of children. I mean, gosh--someone might use Federal money to pay for their kids' health care instead of paying out of his or her own pocket. We certainly can't have that.

    And, of course, the sagacious Congressmen know best, since their health care plans are provided at no cost to them, and generously cover their extended families.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 10:45am

    While I personally dislike the use of the Simpsons characters in this manner, and by blisteringly partisan and clearly self-indulgent conservative "representatives" to make an almost nonsensical case... how is this parody different than Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988)?

    Let them be known for what they say, so we can keep our eyes on their actual detachment from reality.

    "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -- Evelyn Beatrice Hall

     

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  13.  
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    Interrobanger, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 10:50am

    Getting back on to the real subject -- SCHIP

    You know what? They probably did it to cause another useless distraction... which is useful to them. Just like going after Graeme Frost, the more they can stir up a non-issue into a side-controversy, the less we're talking about overriding Bush's SCHIP veto. Well, not me. I'm working for Families USA on this one. They've got an ad on the air right now about it, which you can see here. Meanwhile, check the name of your member of Congress against this list. If your rep is on there, you might want to think about giving them a call to let them know what you think about how they should vote.

     

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  14.  
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    devolutionist, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 11:01am

    No Sugar OR Money??

    Did I miss the part where the Republicans got the sugar and the money? How can you have power without first having the sugar or the money?

     

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  15.  
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    Bob Jones, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 11:12am

    I thought the entire point of Fox was to put the Republican side ahead? Its about time they got creative with it!

     

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  16.  
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    JS Beckerist (profile), Oct 16th, 2007 @ 11:18am

    Homer? A Republican?

    Homer is a republican? I didn't think he was NEARLY smart enough for that...

     

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  17.  
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    Andrew Harris, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 11:28am

    Re: last comment

    brilliant, and right on!

     

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  18.  
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    Ken, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 11:28am

    Re: Homer? A Republican?

    "smart enough"? I think you have that backwards.

     

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  19.  
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    RandomThoughts, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 11:45am

    The SCHIP veto was a good one. That bill was vetoed because the states are not signing up poor kids with what is available today, so why give them even more money?

    Here in NJ, they are not signing up poor kids and want to raise the family income up to $100K and include adults. Why should the Fed. Govt. pay for something that the states can't get right in the first place?

     

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  20.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Oct 16th, 2007 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Good Veto

    Yes, it was a good veto. Put it into perspective. Currently SCHIP covers children who's household makes at or under 200% the poverty level. For a family of 4, thats $41k. If they really wanted health insurance for their children they would budget for it. They would rather have cable, a new car, big screen tv, etc. The new bill wants to raise the bar up to 300% the poverty level and include adults. Thats $62k for a family of four, people! It is about the pay of an engineer with a few good years under his belt. This bill is just paying insurance for the financially irresponsible middle class. I saw some drivel on the news interviewing a lady who, because her husband was getting a raise above the current limit, would be losing SCHIP coverage. Damn! Prioritize you idiots!

     

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  21.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (continued), Oct 16th, 2007 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Continued

    I will drop my company insurance that I pay about $40/month covering four with good care and take the SCHIP since it is my own (middle-class) taxes paying for the program. That way I'm not paying twice.

     

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  22.  
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    RandomThoughts, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 12:24pm

    Chuck, check out New Jersey.

    The Fed rule is under %200, but the states have been bumping it up. Here in NJ, a family of 4 with a household income of $72K would qualify, yet the state has not done enough to sign up the kids that it was designed for in the first place (people under the poverty level)

    Why should the states open it up to higher income families when they can't get the truly poor signed up?

     

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  23.  
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    MEoip, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 12:34pm

    Bad, good

    1)This was a horrible parody! I didn't imagine Burns or Quimby saying any of this. They dialogue didn't have the usual Simpson's pith and wit. It sounded like some middle school kid who isn't allowed to watch the Simpson's wrote it.
    2) This parody isn't for profit, if you really think about it it's for not-profit. If this is to stop the government from spending money through health care then it's not-profiting anyone, except every tax payer, thus it isn't for profit.
    3) I'm glad GW vetoed this, the program is ripe with abuse and misuse. I don't want to help some family earning 60k a year pay for their kids health care because they don't want to. I bet they could afford it if dad stopped playing golf every weekend and mom stopped drinking Starbucks twice a day on the way to the spa.

     

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  24.  
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    WRE, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 1:50pm

    Re: how is this parody different

    >how is this parody different than Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. >Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988)?

    Its different because one was done by a collection of perverts, degenerates, hypocrites and borderline criminals...

    and one was done by a magazine.

     

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  25.  
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    RandomThoughts, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 2:17pm

    WRE, I take offense to your comment. There is nothing borderline about the criminals part.

     

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  26.  
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    Anthony Kuhn, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 3:01pm

    D'oh is right

    Mike: Why, oh why, can't our Representatives get it right? How about a $9K fine per character for illegal usage payable in non-Monopoly money? Would that get them interested in following the law? It's all fun and games until someone infringes on a copyright, you know. I cross-posted on your piece to http://blog.innovators-network.org. The Innovators Network is a non-profit dedicated to bringing technology to startups, small businesses, non-profits, venture capitalists and intellectual property experts. Please visit us and help grown our community! Best wishes for continued success, Anthony Kuhn Innovators Network

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 4:29pm

    I dont understand if healthcare and the costs are regulated by the government then how are people who attend medical school supposed to pay for their education? Maybe we should have government medical schools and draft people to become Doctors who do well on their school work. If they dont want to become doctors then we throw them in jail just like draft dodgers. We could do the same with pharmaceuticals and any other costly items we need in life. Everyone knows the government is better at solving problems than the private sector because thanks to government we dont have poverty, bad food (E-coli, salmonella, or mad cow), we dont allow foreign countries to bring lead based toys into our country because of our strict laws, we dont have plane crashes, highway accidents, or any other problems in life all thanks to the efficiency of the government. I cannot wait to stand in line at the post office for my check up from a well mannered, motivated, and highly skilled government worker!

     

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  28.  
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    JGM, Oct 17th, 2007 @ 7:52am

    Political wonks writing comedy - now there's a recipe for mirth.

     

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  29.  
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    James, Oct 17th, 2007 @ 2:53pm

    I can see two republican interns just laughing away while making it. It's about that level maturity, at least.

     

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  30.  
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    Kyros, Oct 18th, 2007 @ 6:37pm

    This has reached a new level of stupidity. I am now more ashamed of my government as an entirety. Not to say I wasn't before ashamed of it, simply that I'm more ashamed now.

     

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  31.  
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    ed, Apr 21st, 2009 @ 11:01pm

    I have tertiary stphilis.

     

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  32.  
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    sprearson81 (profile), Jun 8th, 2012 @ 6:08pm

    Er, me too?

     

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