University Of The South Says No Creativity Allowed If It Involves Tennessee Williams' Characters

from the going-a-bit-far dept

If you've been following copyright for the last decade or so, you're almost certainly aware of the lawsuit over a book called The Wind Done Gone. It was a reimagining of Gone With the Wind done from the eyes of another character. Yet, the holder of the copyright on Gone With the Wind sued. While a lower court sided with the copyright holder (in part because the judge seemed offended that anyone would try to do anything to Gone With the Wind), an appeals court overturned it. It looks like we may have another such situation on our hands, as the University of the South, who holds the copyright on Tennessee Williams' plays, including A Streetcar Named Desire, is threatening to sue the guy behind a one-man satirical play called Blanche Survives Katrina in a FEMA Trailer Named Desire. It's a play on Streetcar and the character of Blanche DuBois. It seems pretty clear that this is a legal, transformative use of a character -- not a rip off of the original play at all. But, not according to the university who called it:
"infringements on the university's valuable intellectual property rights."
The university claims that a fair use defense doesn't work, because the parody is not directed at the original work, but at current events. While the university is correct that a parody defense only works if the parody is directed at the original protected work, that doesn't mean that other fair use factors won't come into play. It seems like the play's author and actor, Mark Sam Rosenthal, has a pretty strong fair use defense on a variety of factors including the fact that the parody is of both current events and the original play. Either way, it's yet another example of copyright being used to stifle creativity, rather than promote it.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    teknosapien, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 6:06pm

    Yea

    are not getting tired of this crap
    surely this is a college I will advise my daughter to not apply for

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 6:16pm

    And the South wonders why non-Southerners (and the more enlightened Southerners) hate the South.

     

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  3.  
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    RuPaul, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 6:19pm

    Transformative?

    A one-man play in which the only character is a female named Blanche? Talk about "transformative"...

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 6:35pm

    I swear to God in heaven if I get one more fucking spam e-mail from the University of the South...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Comboman, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 6:47pm

    Should have made it a musical

    I guess the University of the South have never seen the Simpsons episode "A Streetcar Named Marge". Oh wait, I guess they did.

    By the way, "University of the South"? Are there really enough students in the former Confederate states capable of passing the SATs to warrant having any entire university down there? ;-)

     

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  6.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Feb 6th, 2009 @ 8:11pm

    Re: Transformative?

    "A one-man play in which the only character is a female named Blanche? Talk about "transformative"..."

    The original plan was for it to be a robot, but they ran into legal difficulties...

     

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  7.  
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    skyrider (profile), Feb 6th, 2009 @ 8:45pm

    "And the South wonders why non-Southerners (and the more enlightened Southerners) hate the South."

    Don't blame Southerners for this, blame all the lawyers they kicked out of New York and Los Angeles, the South is just where they happened to end up because nobody else in the country wanted them. (That includes East Texas.)

    Yes, I am from the South, in a little burg in (South Carolina.)

    Another thing: Here in the South, we have practiced 'BuyItNow' for ages before there was an internet and eBay, and many an auctioneer has been baffled by the story I tell them about the patent fight that happened over 'BuyItNow.'

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Jesse, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 8:48pm

    "more enlightened Southerners"

    Oxymoron. As well as the other kinds of morons.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 8:53pm

    Re:

    I have to call you on your statement that non-southerners hate the south. Only the liberals from the north, with their ultimate enlightenment hate the south.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 6th, 2009 @ 8:57pm

    Re: Should have made it a musical

    Prejudice and hate cannot be removed from society as long as you on the left, the self proclaimed protectors of the weak, realize your comments are as hateful and stereotyping as anything attributed to the right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Cleetus, Feb 7th, 2009 @ 4:39am

    Re: Re:

    So, how's your sister? You two still married? How many kids now? I heard your oldest has mastered walking and chewing gum. At age 17, that's quite the feat!

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Known Coward, Feb 7th, 2009 @ 7:40am

    University of the South

    Hyuk, hyuk.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Its Not Bubba, Feb 7th, 2009 @ 9:10am

    Re:

    That is true.It is mainly us liberals that hate the south.
    I need to mention, you don't like us either.
    BTW The civil war has ended (in most places).

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Vukovar, Feb 7th, 2009 @ 1:20pm

    You should try living here...

    Living in Birmingham, here's some of the more interesting things I've been subjected to in the past few months:

    The US Senate race ads that included this sentence: "That don't fly down here."

    The very large, Confederate flag that flys right next to Interstate 65, just outside of Montgomery (state capitol).

    I hear the phrase "... war of Northern Aggression ..." at least once a month.

    While originally from Wisconsin, I am referred to as a "Yankee."

    Our mayor - well, let me clarify - our federally indicted on 93 counts mayor, affectionately knwon as "La La" continually proposes a multi-million dollar domed stadium project out at the dog track. Did I mention that a) the city is on the verge of filing bankruptcy (and will be the largest bankruptcy of any municipality in history if they do) because of fiscal mismanagement with the sewer debt (see mayor's indictment for bond-swap details). Oh - did I also mention that we have no professional sports team in Birmingham either? Before you say "College football" don't forget they already have their own stadiums already.

     

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  15.  
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    Tyrone, Feb 7th, 2009 @ 4:08pm

    Re:

    actually we hate chickenshit Anonymous Cowards who think we're a bunch of rednecks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Big Earl, Feb 8th, 2009 @ 7:27am

    Re: Re:

    Is it because you know you are rednecks?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    David Sogge, Feb 8th, 2009 @ 8:06pm

    Copyright

    Is this not a State funded school? Taxpayer owned, I am having trouble understanding how the State can own a copyright...this should now be public domain...

    "infringements on the university's valuable intellectual property rights."

    How is this an infringement on intellectual property rights the University did not create "A Street Car Named Desire"...

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Doug Hall, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 6:40am

    Re: You should try living here...

    Re: Living in Birmingham, here's some of the more interesting things I've been subjected to in the past few months:
    ...
    The very large, Confederate flag that flies right next to Interstate 65, just outside of Montgomery (state capitol).

    Yeah, that flag is offensive. But even though it's right next to the interstate, it's on private land, and protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. They could put up a swastika and we couldn't do anything about it.

    In the meantime, please don't paint a picture of my city and state that's just not true. We're doing our best to get past racism, just like the rest of the country. The actions of a few have marred the efforts of the majority. It's no longer 1955. Make no mistake, there will ALWAYS be racist rednecks in the South. But I claim that there will ALWAYS be _MORE_ decent, hard-working, live-and-let-live southerners who are not bothered by people whose skin happens to have more melanin than my own. That may not have always been the case, but it is now. We have bigger things to worry about.

    Montgomery native

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 7:54am

    Re: Should have made it a musical

    "By the way, "University of the South"? Are there really enough students in the former Confederate states capable of passing the SATs to warrant having any entire university down there? ;-)"

    Unfortunately the SAT board helps them with the exams. And most of the universities I have seen down here in the south, since I have been here, are historically black universities. Problem with that is that a lot of them are teaching racism against whites, and a lot are losing accreditation because they are helping the students cheat.

    Now I have had a lot of people yell at me for saying these things, but when you walk into a classroom and the instructor is standing in front of the class and verbally assaulting the one white kid in the class for existing and thinking that he is allowed to infiltrate the sanctity of a pure black university, I think the truth speaks for itself. Another issue is that there are classes that are labeled black culture classes. These classes teach how to work and manipulate government programs so that you can live on govt assistance all your life and never pay a dime for anything. Now this I saw at Albany State University, in Albany, GA. That town is as corrupt as you can get.

    Home Invasions there have risen 200% since the elections. The chief reason suspects give for breaking and entering is that they feel that Obama has given them license to collect of the redistribution of wealth. What a crock.

     

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  20.  
    icon
    kirillian (profile), Feb 9th, 2009 @ 8:31am

    Racism in the South

    I'm a native Southerner...and man, I never really met racism until I moved up farther North (I guess Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota really aren't North, but they are close enough). I grew up in Texas...and damn you if you EVER called a black person an African-American...but up here, the white people seem to thinnk that calling someone black is just as offensive as 'nigger' (pardon my use in the academic sense here...) or such-like. Heck, my mom's side of the family is all hick...and they could care less what color you were...

    I don't think you can lump the South into a big group of racists like that. Just like I don't think that all Northerners are racists either (though I swear that about 60% of them have never seen a black person that was not named Obama...).

    I think no matter where you go, there's gonna be a little lack of understanding on anyone's part...we used to make fun of Arkansas-ans for being the inbreds...

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    ras alghul, Feb 9th, 2009 @ 8:54am

    A Christmas Carol

    How is it there are thousands of reinventions of "A Christmas Carol" all these years without this same myriad of legal wranglings?

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Robert Libbey, MD, Apr 5th, 2009 @ 6:24pm

    Misinformation and bad assumptions

    I am sorry to hear that U. of the South tried to block a creative work on copyright grounds-- but I am not familar with the work and don't know how much was copied (plagarized) vs. parodied. I do know, as an alumnus of U. of the South, 1987, that it is not a "redneck" place, nor any more racist than most of the rest of the country. Nor is it a state supported school. A private liberal arts college and theologic seminary, it was founded in the mid 1800's by the southern Episcopal dioceses, at a time when young men either went to England or to New England for their education. It does have many cultural roots in both England and the pre-Civil war South; the original library was a gift from Oxford, and some of the first professors were former Confederate generals. The copyright to T. Williams' play I understand was a gift along with financial assets to inspire creative writing, so I do hope that someone at the university handles this appropriately. But too many of the preceeding comments are made based on ignorant sterotypes. For what its worth, I've seen as much racism in Australia and Michigan as anywhere in the South-- its ugly where ever its found.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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