Cosby’s Lawyers See No Flattery in an Imitation – New York Times The New York Times is out with a piece this morning on a cease and desist that Channel101.com received for a satire show created based on Bill Cosby called “‘House of Cosby,’ a cartoon that tells the story of Mitchell Reynolds, an obsessed Bill Cosby fan who builds a machine that clones Cosbys, each of whom has a special power (like data analysis).”
While Channel101, where the show was hosted, has taken the show down, Andy Baio is standing up for our fair use right to satire over at waxy.org and keeping it up — although Andy removed some sound clips from a Bill Cosby talks to Kids about Drugs album (which is funny because Bill has been accused of being a little bit of a pharmaceutical fiend himself — the folks at Smoking Gun are going to have great fun with this latest cease and desist).
“But I’m not removing House of Cosbys. House of Cosbys is parody, and clearly falls under fair use guidelines. I’m not taking it down, and their legal bullying isn’t going to work. They claim that hosting these videos “violates our client’s rights of publicity as well as other statutory and common laws prohibiting the misappropriation of an individual’s name, voice and likeness and unfair competition.” Sorry, but the First Amendment protects satire and parody of a public figure as free speech. Also, the right of publicity only applies to unauthorized commercial use, and not a work of art or entertainment.”
What Andy is doing here is super important. Fair use is something very worth defending. Too often we back down when approached by authority figures or threatened with cease and desist letters.
As an aside, recently the cease and desist letter issue came up in a conversation I was having with a group of unnamed bloggers. The advice? Always ignore the first one. Most of the time you never see a second one. If you respond to the first one you let them know they’ve got a live one on the hook.
While Andy will most likely have to end up responding to this one it is also great to see that the EFF is there as a resource to assit him with this. Jason Schultz from the EFF has offered Andy assistance in this issue. The EFF performs an equally important function in providing online advocates of free speech and fair use a valid tool for opposing people like Bill Cosby.
Bill Cosby should fire whoever is giving him advice these days because not only will he lose this one, Satire is actually protected, but the show that he wants to take away from everyone so much is just about to go mainstream. You can watch the videos here and let Andy know if you can mirror the shows.