Congress Stretches Copyright with Foolish Simpsons Parody

//Though a  silly story, how can I pass-up this combination of Fair Use issues,  the Simpsons, and our duly elected representatives?//

If its parody, then Fair Use extends to those covering its use.Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee issued a press release on October 12th which insulted political opponents using the copyrighted images of Simpsons characters.

The release was so sophomoric and lacking in gravitas that writers reporting on the release on the House’s official web site speculated that it may have been the work of hackers. 

The alleged parody used secondary Simpson characters to portray various political opponents in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) debate.

“If the poor children can get a piece of the action, why can’t I?” explained Burns at a rally in Capital City.” And it went downhill from there.

Fox Licensing spokesman Andy Bandit reportedly stated “Twentieth Century Fox was unaware of the illegal use of characters from The Simpsons in this press release. Let me assure you, Fox did not authorize this use. Characters from The Simpsons may not be used in this manner…”

Political parody, even done badly, is given broad First Amendment protection. While Fox may bluster about use of their copyrighted characters, this non-commercial use of incidental characters was in a political context, and would likely be considered “fair use”.  Further, the right-leaning Fox and its owner Rupert Murdoch may be less inclined to pursue this issue than if the offense was by liberal Democrats.

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