Saturday, August 23, 2003

Decisive victory for Franken

Here's the line that will be in trademark/1st Amendment casebooks:

"There are hard cases and there are easy cases," judge Chin said. "This is an easy case. This case is wholly without merit, both factually and legally."

Expect Franken to file a motion to dismiss the suit.

In addition to denying the injunction, the judge took direct aim at Fox for bringing the case:

"Parody is a form of artistic expression protected by the First Amendment. The keystone to parody is imitation. Mr. Franken is clearly mocking Fox," said Chin. "It is ironic that a media company, which should be protecting the First Amendment, is seeking to undermine it."

That says it all on the legal side; On the irony scorecard, there was this:

One round of laughter was prompted when Judge Chin asked, "Do you think that the reasonable consumer, seeing the word `lies' over Mr. O'Reilly's face would believe Mr. O'Reilly is endorsing this book?"

The giggling continued as Dori Ann Hanswirth, a lawyer for Fox, replied, "To me, it's quite ambiguous as to what the message is here." She continued, "It does not say `parody' or `satire.' "

Ms. Hanswirth said Fox's "signature slogan" was also blurred, because people who were not associated with the network, which owns the Fox News Channel, also appear on the cover with Mr. O'Reilly.

Judge Chin said, "The president and the vice president are also on the cover. Is someone going to consider that they are affiliated with Fox?"

The courtroom broke into laughter again.

The funny thing is, that last question can be answered with a yes . . .

And finally, here's Franken's observation:

"In addition to thanking my own lawyers, Franken said, I'd like to thank Fox's lawyers for filing one of the stupidest briefs I've ever seen in my life."

URLs:
In Courtroom, Laughter at Fox and a Victory for Al Franken
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/23/nyregion/23FRAN.html

Judge rejects Fox bid vs. Franken book
http://www.salon.com/ent/wire/2003/08/22/franken/index.html

Fox Loses Bid to Stop Sale of Franken Book http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=638&ncid=579&e=3&u=/nm/20030822/en_nm/media_fox_dc

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Posted at 07:20 AM in Media | Permalink

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