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If you read it anyplace else, it's not Really Legal!
Zick Rubin’s columns on the lighter side of publishing and intellectual property law.
"A Pet Guinea Pig Is Not a Party to This Proceeding"
"First, a pet guinea pig is not a party to this proceeding so Policy ¶4(c)(ii) does not apply (it applies only to respondents and animals cannot be respondents). Second, allowing this defense would simply promote a plethora of pet guinea pig websites (whether the pet guinea pig has died or not."
– National Arbitration Forum arbitrator Houston Putnam Lowry, ruling that Andrew Gruner must hand his "colonelsanders.com" domain name over to the KFC Corporation, despite Mr. Gruner's claim that the site was dedicated to his pet guinea pig "Colonel Sanders" (January 2, 2004).
"While his works vary, Forsythe generally depicts one or more nude Barbie dolls juxtaposed with vintage kitchen appliances. For example, `Malted Barbie' features a nude Barbie placed on a vintage Hamilton Beach malt machine. `Fondue a la Barbie' depicts Barbie heads in a fondue pot. `Barbie Enchiladas' depicts four Barbie dolls wrapped in tortillas and covered with salsa in a casserole dish in a hot oven."
– Court of Appeals Judge Harry Pregerson, dismissing Mattel's lawsuit against photographer Tom Forsythe, on the ground that Forsythe's "Food Chain Barbie" photographs qualify as parodic commentaries on the position of women in society (March 6, 2003).
"Taubman concedes that Mishkoff is `free to shout "Taubman Sucks" from the rooftops.' Essentially, this is what he has done in his domain name. The rooftops of our past have evolved into the internet domain names of our present."
– U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Richard F. Suhrheinrich, holding that The Taubman Company, which owns and manages shopping malls throughout the country, cannot stop one Henry Mishkoff from using the domain name taubmansucks.com for a website criticizing The Taubman Company (February 7, 2003).
"We've never had an incident of a child coming here [to Interlocken International Camp in New Hampshire] when they thought they were going to the place in Michigan [Interlochen Arts Camp]. No child ever showed up at our camp with a violin in his or her hand or looking for the orchestra pit."
– Richard Herman, director of Interlocken, a camp dedicated since its inception in 1961 to "friendship through understanding," on the trademark lawsuit brought in 2001 by the richer and more famous Interlochen Arts Camp. In December 2003, Interlocken ran out of legal funds and agreed to change its name.
Editor's Note: Score one for friendship through understanding.
"Aside from the fact that both illustrations depict a boy wearing glasses, there is little similarity between the two works."
– The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, affirming the dismissal of Nancy Stouffer's claim that the "Harry Potter" books infringed the copyright and trademarks in Stouffer's "Larry Potter" books (December 2, 2003).
"Our review of the record convinces us that these `violent' video games contain stories, imagery, `ageold themes of literature,' and messages, even an `ideology,' just as books and movies do."
– U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Morris Sheppard Arnold, striking down on First Amendment grounds a St. Louis County ordinance that banned the sale or rental of violent video games to minors (June 3, 2003).
"In this age of mass communication, a celebrity can in fact establish a vested right in the use of only their first name. There are many celebrities that are so recognized, including Cher, Madonna, Sting, and Liza."
– New York County Superior Court Judge Walter Tolub, granting to Spike Lee an injunction to stop Viacom from naming its new male-oriented network "Spike TV" (June 12, 2003) (Lee and Viacom then settled the case, allowing the use of the name.)
Editor's Note: For my own part, I am in the process of filing suit against Stephen Sondheim, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and many others for their shameless misappropriation of my persona in "A Little Night MuZICK," "The Sound of MuZICK," and the Radio City MuZICK Hall.
"Although fiction writers often ground their works in part on people and experiences from their own lives, the essence of what they write is by definition fictional.
– New York Country Supreme Court Judge Richard F. Braun, dismissing a claim by library site adviser Daria Carter-Clark that she was recognizable as "Ms. Baum," the librarian in Joe Klein's novel Primary Colors who had a tryst with Governor Jack Stanton, the fictional stand-in for then-Governor Bill Clinton (October 2, 2003).
Editor's Note: Needless to say, if anyone didn't recognize "Ms. Baum" as Ms. Carter-Clark, Ms. Carter-Clark has made sure that they will now.
"Nobody is forced to attend Rock & Roll concerts."
– New York County Supreme Court Judge Martin Schonfeld, dismissing a claim against rock performer John Fogerty for playing so loudly that the plaintiff, a 51-year-old lawyer, suffered permanent hearing damage in his left ear (April 24, 2003).
"Satava may not prevent others from depicting jellyfish with tendril-like tentacles or rounded bells, because many jellyfish possess those body parts. He may not prevent others from depicting jellyfish in bright colors, because many jellyfish are brightly colored. He may not prevent others from depicting jellyfish swimming vertically, because jellyfish swim vertically in nature and often are depicted swimming vertically."
– U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Ronald M. Gould, reversing an injunction that prevented another artist from making jellyfish sculptures that looked like Richard Satava's (March 20, 2003).
Editor's note: This is an important case for jellyfish artists.
Copyright © 2004 by Zick Rubin