Yes, It's Fair Use To Mashup Charlie Brown And The Smiths

from the stand-up-for-your-rights dept

We had mentioned in our post about Universal Music sending bogus DMCA takedowns over Lauren LoPrete’s This Charming Charlie tumblr mashup, that LoPrete had been contacted by various copyright and internet free speech lawyers offering to represent her. It appears that among the lawyers reaching out to her were the good folks at Booth Sweet — whom we’ve covered many times for their efforts to fight copyright trolls and other bogus threats — have taken on her case. Lawyer Dan Booth has sent a short and simple counternotice to Tumblr, arguing that the strips that were taken down were covered by fair use.

So much to answer for! Yet our client believes in good faith that these three posts, like all posts on her charming website, do not infringe the copyright for any Smiths lyrics, as they constitute fair use in accordance with 17 U.S.C. § 107. The three contested posts are JPEGs (attached for your reference) that quote from songs by the Smiths, namely “Ask” (a seven-word quote: “Nature is a language, can’t you read?”); “This Charming Man” (eight words: “Will nature make a man of me yet?”); and “Frankly, Mr. Shankly” (twelve words: “Sometimes I’d feel more fulfilled making Christmas cards with the mentally ill”). Those brief excerpts are used to transformative effect, as you see. They also have no commercial purpose, and cannot have any negative effect on the market for the original works. As a result, the takedown notices are erroneous. We look forward to the prompt reinstatement of the posts pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 512 (g)(3).

And now we wait to see if Universal Music decides to sue. Doubtful, but you never know with the big labels and their itchy trigger finger lawyers.

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Companies: booth sweet, tumblr, universal music

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Comments on “Yes, It's Fair Use To Mashup Charlie Brown And The Smiths”

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Loki says:

Another example of major label failure.

I have, in the past, pointed out I’m a huge music lover (with over 2,000 albums and close to 30,000 songs, in my music catalog). Yet,oddly I have never heard anything from The Smiths (at least not that I am aware of). Had I seen these comics, and been intrigued, upon discovering where these “quotes” came from I might have been inclined to find these songs and listen to them (and potentially add them to my collection – assuming that I hadn’t been boycotting all RIAA music for about a decade now).

All this does is highlights yet again why major label music isn’t worth bothering with. I hope the Smiths are happy their label cost them another potential customer (and over something that didn’t even have anything to directly do with their music).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

All the songs referenced in the letter were written while the Smiths were under contract to Rough Trade -an independent.
One can only wonder as to how Universal has assumed ownership of them in the 25 years since then.

On another note, stop fooling yourself if you’ve missed the smiths up till now you’ll probably never have heard them.

horse with no name says:


The transformative effect here is not significant when compared to the derivative and duplicative nature of work. That is to say that without A or B, the work would be meaningless. It needs, nay requires, the originals to be at all useful, and as such, bases it’s sole existence on it.

Neither is transformed here – just copied and stuck together.

(PS: Techdirt continues to block, censor, and delay my posts… don’t you think that real censorship is more important than a lazy artist getting called out for copying someone else’s work?)

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