JibJab, the creators of the hilarious and hugely-popular This Land animation, is frustrating a record company at the moment. The Flash animation, which parodies the 2004 Presidential campaign, features Bush and Kerry singing along to Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land (with modified lyrics, of course).
Naturally, Ludlow Music, which owns the rights to the song, is a bit irritated. They sent a C&D letter to JibJab, and they’s planning to sue them.
The doctrine of fair use is what allows me to occasionally quote news articles at this site (like I did below), without getting fined the standard $150,000 for copyright infringement. It’s allow why there are so many political cartoonists out there – they couldn’t survive if they had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for each weekly installment they publish.
It’s a clear example of a legal concept called fair use, say the lawyers for JibJab and advocates of liberal copyright laws. If JibJab wins, the case could embolden artists to fend off copyright holders’ aggressive lawyers, who increasingly view digital distribution as a threat.
As a Wikipedian, I’m particularly anxious to find out what happens next: Wikipedia uses tons of material under fair use.
As it turns out, the melody for Guthrie’s song isn’t even his.