Tuesday, December 20, 2011

When Pigs Fly: EFF Files Amicus Brief Supporting . . . Viacom

Yesterday EFF filed my latest amicus brief, which supports . . . Viacom.  
EFF doesn't normally support Viacom, but in Brownmark v. Comedy Partners, we did.  Brownmark had sued Comedy Partners, Viacom, and other defendants for copyright infringement over Brownmark's music video.  An episode of South Park included a parody of Brownmark's video -- it's well established that such parodies are fair use.  The trial court granted Viacom's motion to dismiss the case on fair use grounds, and Brownmark appealed.  Brownmark claimed it was improper for a court ever to dismiss a case on fair use grounds without discovery and possibly a trial.  EFF supported the defendants on this legal issue.  
It's important for courts to be able to dispose of fair use cases quickly when the fair use is obvious (which it was in this case; see the videos here if you want to).  Requiring artists and others to go through a trial even when fair use is clear-cut will discourage them from fighting the claims and from innovating in the first place, as EFF's press release explains

Best of luck to Viacom and Comedy Partners on this particular appeal.

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