Ruh Roh, Don Ness!

Danes firstDuluth next?

Four mayors in Denmark now know what it’s like to become a target of an international recording label out for blood over copyright. The controversy stems from the publication of a YouTube video featuring the officials dancing to Gangnam Style. Universal Music, the company holding the copyright to the original track, have warned the mayors that unless they pay $42,000 by tomorrow, a copyright infringement battle will follow.


Barrett Chase

about 11 years ago

I'm no lawyer, but I think it would be Rubber Chicken Theater, not the City of Duluth, who would be liable for the infringement in this case.


about 11 years ago

The article on Torrent Freak explains a bit more clearly. Considering the parodies that are out there on this and many other videos it seems this is just another one of those shots across the bow of the people with senses of humor. Or, we could be having a fundraiser for one or both which might be even more fun.

Barrett Chase

about 11 years ago

The thing about viral videos and parody is that without them, very few of us would have any idea what the hell "Gangnam Style" even is. It's ridiculous to attack the people and the system that made you rich and famous.


about 11 years ago

Yeah, the mayor or the city wouldn't have anything to worry about. This is totally a Rubber Chicken Theater project. And as it clearly states on our Youtube description, we don't own any of the music and it's a parody. Now, if you want to see us do something else that might truly be worthy of a lawsuit, come check out The Chicken Hat Plays this Saturday at 7pm at Harbor City!


about 11 years ago

I agree with Barrett. It astounds me that people can be so clueless about where they got all their money: the people who see a viral video and say, "I gotta get that song, it's sooo funneh."


about 11 years ago

People get money from attention; once their viral videos stop generating their own attention, a lawsuit sure draws attention back to them.


about 11 years ago

The copyright trolling lawyers are the real profiteers in these lawsuits.

Here is the article Sarafenix mentioned: 

Universal Music tells Gangnam parody mayors: Pay $42,000 by tomorrow, or else


about 11 years ago

Maybe I'm wrong, but isn't there a law in the US protecting parody? Maybe it's different in Denmark.

Barrett Chase

about 11 years ago

There is a law protecting parody, but like any law, it's open for interpretation, meaning you still might get sued, and even if you do win in the end, it won't be fun.

The Torrentfreak link above explains it like this: "The argument appears to stem from the use of the track. While the mayors believe their contribution to the Psy phenomenon was entirely for parody purposes and therefore fair use, Universal sees things very differently. They insist that the mayors were actually attempting to increase their own profiles and used the video - and Universals copyrights - in order to boost their political careers."

So, just because you say that something is parody, that doesn't mean someone can't drag you into court and challenge the idea that what you did was parody.

Tony D.

about 11 years ago

Parody is protected by law. But the question is, as Barrett suggests, can you afford the court costs?

Back in the 90s when Tim Nyberg and I were writing the Duct Tape books, we also did a bunch of parody of self-help / inspiration books as Bad Dog Press. One title, "When I am an Old Man I Shall Wear Mixed Plaids," was supposedly written by "Jerry Atrick" (get it?) and the "factoids" we presented were the work of the "Atrick and Associates Research Project" or "AARP." The words "A Parody" were right on the cover, front and back. The real AARP's lawyers sent me a scary letter, I replied citing parody law, and the lawyers phoned. They told me I was absolutely right, but that they were on retainer with the AARP, who wanted the book to go away, and were Tim and I prepared to fly to NYC and spend several weeks and thousands of dollars on lawyers to prove we were right. We didn't have that kind of money and had just sold out of the first printing so we simply changed the joke for the next printing. They were happy. 

So yeah, parody is protected--but if someone wants you to stop having fun with their original idea you have to have the $ to use that protection. And often a cheesy joke just ain't worth it.

On another note, at Book Expo in about the same year one of the creators of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series saw our parody ("Rubber Chickens for the Soul") and panicked on the spot, yelling at us that he was going to sue us out of business. His co-creator came over, looked at the cover, and said "This is a parody. I can think of no greater homage." And then he thanked us and gave us some free books.

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