Parody or Pilfering? Court to Decide What’s What (In The Butt)

Brownmark Films is suing “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker in a case that seems right out of one of the South Park scripts. The court will decide whether Stone and Parker stole copyrighted material from “What What (in the Butt) — a music video that went viral. They are accused of stealing the idea from the website CollegeHumor, but the show insists that this is simply protected parody.

The video was released in 2007 and has been downloaded 33 million times on YouTube at this link. They have had over 33 million hits.

In 2008, South Park produced its own re-creation featuring Butters in an episode “Canada on Strike.” South Park insists: “Courts have consistently recognized that parody enjoys broad protections under the First Amendment and the Copyright Act. We believe ‘South Park’s’ parody of the ‘What What (In the Butt)’ viral music video…is fully protected against any copyright infringement claims under the fair-use doctrine and the First Amendment and we plan to vigorously defend those rights.” In other words, you will have to pry our version of “What What (In The Butt)” from our cold dead cartoon hands.

They have also noted that Brownmark founders Bobby Ciraldo and Andrew Swant stated publicly after the show that they “sent Trey and Matt a thank-you e-mail the next day.” Once again, I find the growing copyright litigation to be a stifling trend in our country. In this case, the creators put the video for download on YouTube with tens of millions of hits and yet sue over a re-make.

Source: Yahoo

56 thoughts on “Parody or Pilfering? Court to Decide What’s What (In The Butt)”

  1. Blouise I will bring Mexican if that is what you want. I have jury duty tomorrow.

  2. Buckeye,

    Poker without dining is so … so uncultured … my house … pot luck (which given the culinary skills of our posters should be some kind of meal) … you bring the wine … I will invite Buddha but only so that we may rub his green belly for luck.

    Ladies: … I find it ominous that Buckeye did not claim to be a neophyte … I suggest we keep an eye on him when he deals!

  3. Blouise,

    Since I’m jade, I’m somewhere between 70 and 140 million years old but I pronounce it 40-ish.

  4. With appologies to Elaine M:

    Poker’s fine.
    Your house or mine.
    I’ll bring the wine.
    Shall we also dine?

  5. Just thought I should mention that my wife got the “Drugs are bad mmmmkay” speech from a school councilor named Mr. Lakkey, although it was really a “cigarettes are bad mmmmkay” speech.

  6. “Privatization of the Commons” concerns me.

    I wonder whether I might, as Ph.D.-educated bioengineer, come up with some process which is essential to life for which the fine details are not yet obvious, and get a patent such that every living cell would be obligated to pay me massive royalties.

    Especially, I love the patenting of unique human genes which are associated with particular rare genetic conditions. My life, at conception, apparently came with a form of familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) (used to be called Gardner’s Syndrome by some folks). At a license fee of $1000 for every cell in my body to be paid to whosoever gets to the patent office first with patent for the particular form of FAP gene I have, where will I ever get the trillions of dollars needed for me to pay the patent royalties in order to not have my body confiscated as a patent violation?

    Any and all patentable ideas in my doctoral dissertation and associated research were, to the best of my practicable ability, dumped forever into the public domain as stated in the dissertation.

    Is there any upper limit to the madness of greed?

  7. rafflaw,

    You, sir, are a gentleman, as Buddha was responding to my mention of Pogo …

    Buddha is a forever-young, dimmpled, lad from the mid-wast making his way in the world …

  8. My previous comment doesn’t seem to be showing up — I’m going to try it again without the URL. If this turns into a double post, my apologies.

    The whole episode can be seen over at the South Park Studios website, the episode is seaon 12, episode 4, “Canada on Strike”

    If you want to just jump to where the song fits into the episode, go to about 7:40. The song itself starts at 8:35. It’s also relevant in most of Act 2. Kyle’s speech at the end is also relevant.

    The episode deals with the WGA strike (substituting the premise that all of Canada goes on strike). The boys have to make money off the internet in order to get Canada to go back to work, but find out that all of their video hits just get them theoretical money, rather than real money.

    I don’t think South Park has as air tight a case as they normally would. The point of their use of the song isn’t parodying the What What song itself, it’s parodying the WGA and the fact that you can’t make real money on the internet. They also use a fairly large chunk of the song (about a minute).

    However, I’m still inclined to think this falls under fair use.

  9. SwM,

    That’s ok … I have nothing against the show … I’ve just never watched it … you can be the resident expert having seen at least one episode.

  10. I actually have watched the show so I guess i can’t be an official member of the group.

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