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?

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Comments on “Will Fox Sue Congress For Simpsons Parody?”

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OKVol says:

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!

John Duncan Yoyo says:

Re: 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.

Brad Eleven (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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

Interrobanger (user link) says:

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.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

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?

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) says:

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!

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

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?

MEoip says:

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.

Anthony Kuhn (user link) says:

D'oh is right


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

Anonymous Coward says:

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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