by Mike Masnick
Tue, Oct 16th 2007 8:37am
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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