Daily Variety Refuses To Back Down On Vandals Lawsuit

from the pick-your-battles dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about how publishing giant Reed Elsevier had decided to sue the band The Vandals, for supposedly violating a previous agreement not to use an album logo that parodied Reed’s publication, Daily Variety:

While the band had agreed not to use the logo, images with the logo were being found on various websites, but it was other sites using it, not the band promoting it itself. Furthermore, it’s clearly a parody, which should be legal (though it’s complicated by the band’s agreement to stop using the logo, so the contractual issues take precedence over the trademark/parody questions). What’s amazing is that after all the negative attention being put on Reed over such a ridiculously minor issue, the company refuses to back down and is still pushing forward with the case. It’s difficult to see why this makes sense in any way. Reed is a publishing giant. It hardly needs to win this lawsuit, and it’s got nothing to do with protecting its trademark any more. Besides, this lawsuit has done a hell of a lot more to promote the old logo than anything that happened before.

Where this gets even more interesting (or potentially dangerous, depending on your opinion), is that the band’s bassist, Joe Escalante, is a former entertainment lawyer who is representing the band in the case. Despite not being a litigator, he’s been learning about litigation and even got himself admitted to practice law in Delaware, where the lawsuit was filed (the band is trying to get the case moved to LA). Escalante has been publicizing all of the aspects of the case, and the band is even holding a “fundraising” concert to fund the legal defense.

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Companies: reed elsevier

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Comments on “Daily Variety Refuses To Back Down On Vandals Lawsuit”

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The Vandals (profile) says:

Daily Variety Sues Punk Band For Font

Thank you techdirt for illuminating the essential question here. Why are they sticking with this
Why this is “clearly a parody:” the Daily Variety calls itself the “Bible Of The Entertainment Industry.” When the Vandals want to parody Hollywood, if they can’t spoof the people that call themselves the Bible of it, then let’s take the word parody out of the dictionary, and any other words Reed Elsevier things might cost them a nickel.

Webster calls a Parody “a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule.”

Legally, the Fair Use Doctrine protects works like ours because they are creative and transformative. We take a hint of a pompous enterprise’s logo and comment on the materialistic and egotistical obsessions of the Hollywood system. That may not be high brow art, but it’s our art. It’s the best we can do. Should we be financially ruined over it?

Should Reed Elsevier and the Daily Variety be allowed to extort money out of us in a far away jurisdiction unless we spend tens of thousands to explain to them and the court in Delaware how the Internet works and how negotiated “30 day cure periods” work in a fair society?

The only people that would think this punk band should be subject to financial ruin for what has taken place here are the 950 attorneys at Fulbright & Jaworski who have to try to rationalize this kind of corrupt behavior to get some sleep at night and the in house counsel for Reed Elsevier Henry Z. Horbaczewski who has to explain to Reed and Variety why they should think it’s worthwhile to take such a beating in the press for what they’re doing.

Google “Daily Variety.” All you see, besides their own website, are articles about suing a punk band over a free speech issue. After one hundred and one years, this is where they’ve brought themselves. For what?

Well, they own Lexis-Nexis. So when the Vandals do legal research to defend themselves, they actually have to send Reed money. So does everyone defending themselves in a frivolous lawsuit. Reed has found a way to actually profit nicely from lawsuit abuse.

Perhaps they hate our bass player because he uses his law degree to give free legal advice to thousands of people on his radio shows that might otherwise hire their type of attorneys. And he is a spokesperson for Legalzoom.com, a revolutionary service eliminating the need for attorneys in many instances. What does he do in his spare time? He enjoys his life playing in a “popular enough” punk band. He represents freedom to these people and a world where they are less powerful so they want to drive him out of the public forum, mafia style. We don’t have any other way to explain this odd behavior.

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