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ASCAP Starts To Act Like the RIAA 272

Scott Lockwood writes "Below Average Dave, a Dr. Demento style parody artist, has been shut down by the ASCAP. This collective, acting as badly as the RIAA, is now attempting to ignore the 2 Live Crew Supreme Court decision that parodies are new derivative works. Just like the RIAA, ASCAP seems intent on misrepresents the law. If you know anyone who can help BA Dave in his plight, please contact him." This artist doesn't have the resources to fight the ASCAP, even though the law is pretty clearly on his side. Anyone at the EFF or the ACLU interested?
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ASCAP Starts To Act Like the RIAA

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  • ASCAP? (Score:4, Funny)

    by bersl2 ( 689221 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:43AM (#27967653) Journal

    More like "ASSHAT".

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:43AM (#27967669) Journal

    If you know anyone who can help BA Dave in his plight, please contact him.

    Number of certified lawyers that read Slashdot: 5.

    Number who actually give a shit: 1.

    Paging Ray Beckerman [slashdot.org] alias NewYorkCountryLawyer.

    • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @12:27PM (#27968555) Journal

      I think if I was this guy, I'd just ignore the lawsuit completely and continue doing what I've always done. Cost: $0.00. Eventually due to my lack of participation the court case would probably be decided in ASCAP's favor, and I'd be fined a couple million dollars. Then I'd start calling folks like CNN, NBC, FOX, PBS to publicize the ridiculous nature of a law that fines average citizens a couple million dollars, just because they sampled a few seconds in a parody. It would embarrass ASCAP, get the attention of Congress, and lead to change.

      Another outcome is that the Judge would simply throw-out the case. Again my cost would be $0.00.
      And a final outcome is that if this thing drags-on, I might die of old age, then the whole thing is moot.

      I wonder how Weird Al Yankovic feels about this case? He too is affected if it's decided parodies/samplings are no longer allowed. Who knows, maybe he's next in line to be sued. Well whatever. Dear ASCAP/RIAA/MPAA/Authors Guild: Fuck ye. And eat a bullet.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Weird Al gets the permission of the people who he is parodying. I believe that this gets around ASCAP.

        • by Carnivore ( 103106 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @12:38PM (#27968789)

          Yes, but that's just to be polite. He doesn't have to, which protected him from Coolio when he proceeded with 'Amish Paradise' even though Coolio claimed that he had not granted permission for the parody.

          • What part of "You don't need permission to do a parody" do you not understand?

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              Parodies are not automatically fair use. Re-read the two live crew decision.

              Getting permission to make a parody just makes you not be a douchebag.

      • by DJ Particle ( 1442247 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @12:36PM (#27968737) Homepage
        B.A.Dave uses backing tracks supplied by Karaoke-Version.com, who has given him permission to use said tracks. I have the same agreement with them, myself.
        • by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @01:15PM (#27969455)

          I checked out the FAQ on that site. They write (emphasis mine):

          Use in public events

          We are happy to allow the use of our soundtracks in public places and during events, commercial or not. However, and for your information, we'd like to remind you that you must receive an official agreement from your national music rights management office (MCPS in UK for example) to be legally compliant.

          If the event is private and non-commercial, use of soundtracks is, of course, allowed and not restricted.

          Other use (Recording/Streaming/Broadcasting...)

          Recording rights of our soundtracks (Whether it's on a specific media or not) is not included in the price.

          Prior to any recording of one of our soundtracks, it is mandatory to file for a written authorisation. Any use of any of our available tracks, without prior agreement, is a violation in regards of French Law dated July 3-1985 and International Conventions. Be aware that Moral Copyright allows Songwriters/Composers to forbid any re-use of his work if he finds this use doesn't respect the original design.

          I'm not sure about that "moral copyright" part (it may relate to jurisdictions outside the US) but the rest matches my understanding: karaoke-versions.com licenses for private, in-home use, but if you want to broadcast it or record it, you need to get additional authorization -- ie. ASCAP or BMI in the US.

          This appears to contradict your statement. Do you have a more comprehensive contract with karaoke-versions.com which allows for recording and broadcast?

          • "moral copyright"

            self-contradictory term.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            KV told me that additional payments only apply if I sell over 1000 copies (which is no problem...I'm lucky to sell 100). From my other sources in the parody/comedy music industry, ASCAP usually agrees to that as well. Dave hasn't yet sold a single copy. He gives away his parodies for free.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hatta ( 162192 )

        I think if I was this guy, I'd just ignore the lawsuit completely and continue doing what I've always done. Cost: $0.00. Eventually due to my lack of participation the court case would probably be decided in ASCAP's favor, and I'd be fined a couple million dollars. Then I'd start calling folks like CNN, NBC, FOX, PBS to publicize the ridiculous nature of a law that fines average citizens a couple million dollars, just because they sampled a few seconds in a parody. It would embarrass ASCAP, get the attentio

      • covers and parodies (Score:3, Informative)

        by MushMouth ( 5650 )

        Actually, anyone is allowed to cover or parody any published song without any permission needed so long as they pay the songwritering royalties. In the case of a parody, those royalties are usually split between the original writer and the writer of the parody, in other words Weird Al himself gets a check from ASCAP or BMI (I'm not sure who he is registered with) for performance. As for his CD's those are covered by the mechanical royalty, which is also split in a very similar way by and handled by the Har

    • Thanks for the referral, eldavojohn, but I'm not in a position to take on additional nonbillable work at the moment. He should go to Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, they might be able to find him a volunteer attorney in a case like this one.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MoldySpore ( 1280634 )

      If you know anyone who can help BA Dave in his plight, please contact him.

      ...if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe YOU can hire...The A-Team.

  • Starting? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mmkkbb ( 816035 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:48AM (#27967755) Homepage Journal

    BMI and ASCAP have been thugs for a long time, threatening bar and club owners for licensing agreements for offering live music. For this reason, AS220 [as220.org] in Providence no longer allows musicians to perform any cover songs!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) *

      BMI and ASCAP have been thugs for a long time, threatening bar and club owners for licensing agreements for offering live music. For this reason, AS220 [as220.org] in Providence no longer allows musicians to perform any cover songs!

      Um, your link brings me to a photography blog. It does have a word doc [as220.org] that starts out with:

      As of Nov 1, 2004 AS220 is boycotting BMI, ASCAP and SESACâ(TM)s Blanket License Policies. This means that NO music registered to any of these organizations may be performed or played on the premises. This applies to any sampled material as well.

      Honestly, as a performer, I've been pleased with ASCAP. How I understand it is that a bar or establishment pays a modest price (like ~$500 a year?) and all artists can play covers without fear of legal recourse. Sounds like a great deal to me. Doesn't sound very thuggish, does it?

      Your favorite bar doesn't think so. Good for them. Heck, even better for originals only bands. Too bad for bands like mine that

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I own a climbing gym, and they have been after my ass for almost two years. We play a radio station, which is already paying ASCAP and BMI. If I break down and pay ASCAP, BMI will come with their hand out, and a small business will be out at least $2000 per year. To play the fukcing radio! Everyone in the gym can have on headphones tuned to the same station and ASCAP won't care. It's a damn climbing gym! People don't "work out to the music" as the contend.

      I contacted a guy, and there is a way around it: pla

      • Re:Starting? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Misch ( 158807 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @12:12PM (#27968263) Homepage

        Get a Sirius/XM business account. The business account includes rights to play in your business.

        $25/month last I looked.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by phulegart ( 997083 )

        There is another way around this...
        It depends on the number of speakers you are using to entertain your guests. You only have to pay the ASCAP fees if you are using more than 3 speakers. Silly, I know, but this is the line for non-jukebox atmosphere music. So a store, with only a stereo playing (only two speakers) does NOT have to pay ASCAP fees. If that same store had a quadraphonic setup, they would have to pay.

        I only learned about this when the owner of three retail shops I was handling the S&R f

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 )

      BMI and ASCAP have been thugs for a long time, threatening bar and club owners for licensing agreements for offering live music.

      Not licensing for live music, licensing for peforming someone else's composition. That's their job.

      When you play a songwriter's composition in a way that makes you money (such as attracting customers), you owe that songwriter a cut.

      While BMI and ASCAP may be bastards, the general principle of "share this song if you like it, but if you make money from it you owe me a royalty"

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Not licensing for performing someone else's composition, licensing for live music that is totally original and wholly owned by the artist playing at the venue. That's illegal.

        When an artist plays their own original music live at a venue, BMI and ASCAP have no right to get involved at all, but they will hound you mercilessly with demands that you pay them money. They want people to believe that they automatically own the rights to all music ever written, and they take that position in their communication wit

      • Re:Starting? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Bellegante ( 1519683 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @01:37PM (#27969767)
        [quote]When you play a songwriter's composition in a way that makes you money (such as attracting customers), you owe that songwriter a cut. [/quote]

        Why? No, seriously, why? It doesn't take money from the people who made the music, it doesn't even deny them CD sales in the way that piracy could theoretically do (though there is no hard evidence that it does).

        The reason the stupid copyright law exists in the first place is to benefit the people! It isn't so that you can claim profit from each and every rendition of a song throughout space and time. A cover band playing a professional song will never detract from the professional group's funds, and I defy you to find anything to the contrary.

        Explain the moral obligation society has to pay an artist for every single performance of work that he originated, please.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Uh, maybe this [wikipedia.org] one?

          Copyright is a valid and useful thing for a society. The implementation of it can be problematic though and ours is rife with abuses, such as Disney, etc.

          I tend to not have a problem paying for actual performances and if I use something someone else owns to do it, paying a fair fee is reasonable. The bigger problem is with licenses for the simple 'sale' of recorded performances. With technology this is now an infinite good; the value of a 'copy' of the performance is so low as to
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 )

          it doesn't even deny them CD sales

          Songwriters don't necessarily have CD sales. Songwriters often produce rough demos, or written music, to get their ideas to performing or recording musicians. Not all songwriters are singers.

          It's the songwriters, not the original performers, who get these royalties. If I play "Love Potion Number 9" at a paid gig, Leiber and Stoller [wikipedia.org] get the nickel, not The Clovers.

          The reason the stupid copyright law exists in the first place is to benefit the people!

          Exactly! And having

    • by zotz ( 3951 )

      If a band (its members) is a member of ascap or bmi, could they even perform their own stuff?

      all the best,


    • Re:Starting? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by destiny71 ( 731278 ) <destiny71&gmail,com> on Friday May 15, 2009 @01:31PM (#27969683) Journal

      Not playing covers songs isn't enough for them.

      ASCAP in effect shut down a local venue because they had no way to pay the exceptionally high fees they wanted in order to allow live music to be played.

      They catered to local, younger musicians playing ORIGINAL music. At first, they let them go because they were playing original music. Then, they came back and said they had to pay the fees.

      Why? because someone warming up, tuning up, or whatever may play a few notes that someone else wrote.

      This place was for a younger audience, so no alcohol sales. Cover charges were just to keep the place open. They had to close down.

  • by cortesoft ( 1150075 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:50AM (#27967807)

    Once the animal rights people get involved, it's game over.

  • Starts to?! (Score:5, Informative)

    by linumax ( 910946 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:51AM (#27967829)
    ASCAP has been in this much much longer [wikipedia.org] than RIAA.
    • --New members were only admitted with sponsorship of existing members.--

      This sounds like how a gang operates not an organization. Looks like the dude could just pay membership dues or something. He ain't paying so they are going to mess him up.

  • Who's Next? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TreyGeek ( 1391679 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:53AM (#27967863) Homepage
    Will the ASCAP be targeting Weird Al now?
    • I think Weird Al usually sought permission of some kind. I don't know if he paid royalties, but I remember there being some kind of controversy over Amish Paradise because Weird Al's management said they'd gotten permission from Coolio, and then after the fact Coolio denied it.
      • Which was hilarious as Coolio more than sampled Stevie Wonder for that song. The only thing he could be pissed about is Weird Al tying braids in his hair.

        • Well, this is going off topic a bit, but apparently Coolio was mad because he took the lyrics of the song fairly seriously. He had intended for it to sort of raise awareness of certain kinds of social problems, and so he resented it being turned into a joke.

        • I think you mean Lakeside, not Stevie Wonder. :-)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by robkill ( 259732 )

      No, for several reasons.

      1.) Having recorded for nearly 30 years, Al knows the ins and outs of what's legal, what he can easily fight, and what he can't.

      2.) The original songwriter is credited on all parodies (and polka medleys) meaning Al pays royalties to the original songwriter on all songs recorded on CD or receiving airplay. ASCAP and the original artist are making money from Al.

      3.) Al gets permission from the artist before recording a parody, even though it isn't legally necessary. In the case of

  • Is This Anything New (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SlashdotOgre ( 739181 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:53AM (#27967867) Journal
    I can't say I'm surprised, from the limited knowledge I have on the subject, these guys along with BMI have been on the bullies for years. For a good example from a couple years ago, check out The Richard Phillips vs BMI Story [woodpecker.com] in which an independent artist, who only performed his own music (no covers, etc.), which he owned the copyright to, was pushed out of a job.
  • by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @11:56AM (#27967931) Homepage

    ASCAP charges both for lyrics and melodies. If you make an instrumental version of a song, you have to pay, and if you create alternative lyrics over that instrumental, I don't think it changes anything. I suspect Dave isn't going to avoid the bill.

    • by hondo77 ( 324058 )
      Exactly. When Weird Al puts his lyrics over someone else's tune [wikipedia.org], the original songwriter is definitely getting paid.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Actually, I believe he asks permission out of courtesy, but if he were less polite he could just do a parody without asking.
        • by shark72 ( 702619 )

          Correct -- but the songwriter is still paid.

          Below Average Dave believes that he should not have to pay the songwriter. This is based on his apparent misunderstanding of the laws regarding parodies.

    • Yes, that's kind of what I came in here to say. I'm not familiar with the 2 Live Crew Supreme Court decision mentioned in the summary, but there are multiple issues when talking about musical copyrights: the musical composition, the lyrics, and the actual recording.

      Even if they change the lyrics, if they're using a derivative musical composition, I think it's a derivative work. Parody is a form of protected speech, but IIRC doing a parody isn't enough to get you off the hook for copyright infringement.

  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @12:00PM (#27968007) Homepage

    The guy needs to contact the EFF himself. They don't often just pick up cases because they get reported on Slashdot. They might take a look if he contacts them though. It doesn't take much effort to do so: http://www.eff.org/about/contact [eff.org]

    Incidentally, the ASCAP has a long history of doing dumb stuff. Back in the mid 1990s they got a lot of public flack for trying to sue the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/communications/ASCAP.html [umkc.edu]

  • by SlashdotOgre ( 739181 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @12:05PM (#27968123) Journal

    Why is it that the music industry seems to be so corrupt? I mean, I'm sure crap goes on in all industries, but the music industry in particular is just blatantly messed up. You've got groups like the RIAA suing their customers, all major venues are pretty much owned by Ticketmaster who add ridiculous fees to shows, while ClearChannel controls the airwaves, and then you have groups like ASCAP/BMI who push licenses on small business owners because the alternative are law suits where the minimal fine (or just lawyers fees alone) would drive them out of business. To make matters worst, the artists who are the base of the industry are frequently getting short end of the stick despite in many cases providing the largest contribution which makes the whole industry possible.

    • by TinBromide ( 921574 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @12:21PM (#27968453)
      They grew that way because its so durned easy to hum a tune, write it down, and then expect to make a lifetime income off of that melody you came up with when you were on the crapper. Once people became hooked on a lifetime of income for a few days work, it became expected and their representative groups took up the fight against all threats, legal or otherwise. Seeing as the end consumer doesn't care about where the music comes from, its up to the RIAA and ASCAP and company to make the consumers care.

      What was the quote? Evil is what happens when good people do nothing? Well nobody did anything, so evil happened.
    • by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @12:22PM (#27968455) Journal

      Why is it that the music industry seems to be so corrupt?

      1. A property which is both intangible and easily reproducable. That's not at all conducive to the artificial scarcity necessary to make a buck.
      2. Money. Lots of money. A tradition of lots of money. And now that money is at risk. The artificial scarcity is taking a serious beating, and now the middleman's essential role of getting between the creator and the consumer is becoming much less essential, so that sweet sweet moolah is crossing their palm less often.
      3. Success. Because the entertainment IP dinosaur still has influence, the law (both legislative and, to an extent, judicial) is swinging in their direction. Success in lawmaking and litigation encourages more of the same, even if an outside observer would call the process "corrupt". Cuz, you know, "corrupt" or "not corrupt" doesn't matter; "successful" and "moneymaking" is the only standard.

      I think that's why it seems worse. Because, to some degree, it is.

    • by Yaa 101 ( 664725 )

      Because they are essentially government endorsed extortion companies, just follow the money and see that a lot of legislators directly and indirectly make shitloads of money with these schemes. These companies are almost costless to setup, no R&D, no hard investments, just hire some office space and some hard goons.
      They will protect their lousy income even if they have to hire very nasty people.

    • There are several good reasons that the music industry is corrupt as it is.

      1. Old school players. ASCAP and company got into the game early and have maintained control throughout the years by primarily assaulting people with little financial backing. (clubs, notably)

      2. Cash cow. The cost of reproduction is virtually nothing for the imaginary property produced, but you -have- to maintain a grip or lose significant profit. There's no non corrupt way to maintain that grip over people, so it's a corrupt
  • If you're going to go up against the big bad guys, make sure you have at least one of the following:

    1) Money
    2) Huge popular support.

    2LC had both. This guy seems to have neither. I know, I know, first they came for the lame DJ I didn't care about and I said nothing, then they came for all the DJs, then they called me a DJ. Call me a procrastinator, but I'll wait for stage 3.

  • by pines225 ( 1413303 ) * on Friday May 15, 2009 @12:10PM (#27968217)

    ... ignore the 2 Live Crew Supreme Court decision that parodies are new derivative works

    What the Supreme Court said was that if a parody was sufficiently transformative, this would operate in its favour when weighing up the fair use factors. BA Dave is taking the position that because he created a parody, fair use applies, but the Supreme Court stamped on that theory pretty sharply:

    "Like a book review quoting the copyrighted material criticized, parody may or may not be fair use, and petitioner's suggestion that any parodic use is presumptively fair has no more justification in law or fact than the equally hopeful claim that any use for news reporting should be presumed fair."

    Now I've no idea how transformative BA Dave's parodies are, but this quote should at least show him that he needs to do a little more than cry "parody" if he's going to convince them to back off. Let's hope he can. And let's be grateful he is in the US where parody is given some recognition as a fair use. In the UK, for instance, it's viewed as being no more legitimate than any other form of copying.

    • by bigbigbison ( 104532 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @12:32PM (#27968673) Homepage
      It also depends on what the parody song is about. Is it parodying the song itself, as Weird Al does, or is it using the melody of the song to create a parody of something else. I'm not a lawyer, and I've never heard of Below Average Dave before so I've no idea if this is the case (or even true) but if the song is not parodying the original song but just using the melody to parody something else, then using the song is not fair use. The Penny Arcade guys ran into this when they ran a parody of American McGee's Alice which used Strawberry Shortcake.
  • by bonch ( 38532 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @12:10PM (#27968235)

    What a totally unbiased article summary. It doesn't automatically take a position or make assumptions about anything. I expect a fully qualified, objective discussion to follow presenting both sides in a fair and factually-based light.

    • by evanbd ( 210358 )

      What clued you in? Was it the "Posted by kdawson" line, or did it take longer than that to figure out.

      Kdawson is a poor editor, even by /. standards. /. would be much improved by his absence.

  • Why oh why is all the bad stuff (corporate related) happening in the USA first?
    • Why oh why is all the bad stuff (corporate related) happening in the USA first?

      Because here in the Land of the Fee, corporate 'citizens' are more highly regarded for their campaign contributions to politicians than the 'meat' citizens the politicians reputedly represent. We did a paradigm shift that turned said meat citizens into 'consumers' and thus, products, for the corporate 'citizens'. Then that paradigm shift got codified into law, modified as needed to protect the interest of the corporate citizen

  • Who couldhave imagined that an organization with a name like ASCAP could be acting like an an ASS HAT.

  • by Moebius Loop ( 135536 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @12:28PM (#27968565) Homepage

    One distinction I would like to point out is that ASCAP is *not* like the RIAA -- ASCAP actually pays the artists they represent when they force someone to pay up for licensing purposes.

    I don't agree with their stance on this particular issue, or their attempts to charge people who are playing radio (stations that have already paid the ASCAP fees).

    But it's an important distinction that they are actually defending the rights of artists, even if those rights are overblown. It's a far cry from the RIAA who will never be handing down a penny of the handful of successful lawsuits they've filed.

    The reality of the situation is that there is basically no such thing as a Composers' Union in the US, so ASCAP/BMI association is the only way a composer or songwriter can get reimbursed for the use of their works on an international level.

    • by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @12:48PM (#27968973)

      Very well put.

      I think the zeitgeist on Slashdot is this: we dislike record labels, but we like artists. We want artists to make money directly -- and that's why actions like pirating the music and then "going to a concert" or "buying a t-shirt" are acceptable, as more money goes to the artist.

      In short, we like it when artists make money directly, without record labels being involved.

      And that's exactly what ASCAP is -- a collective of songwriters and lyricists, creating a revenue stream that's largely untouched by the record labels. It provides artists a way to do what they love and get money for it, even if they're not signed to a label or selling CDs.

      We want them to have rights. We simply don't want them to get all uppity and enforce those rights. You artists can have all the rights you want, but if claiming your rights gets in the way of us doing something with your music without paying you -- such as recording a new song using your melody -- then the proper response is to sit down, shut up, and know your place.

      It's quite sad, really.

      • by richlv ( 778496 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @03:28PM (#27971373)

        i think your viewpoint is quite sad.
        'we' want artists, authors and others to have a copyright. but those 'we' want this copyright to be reasonable.
        that includes reasonable terms on time and reuse restrictions.
        really, macaulay probably wasn't the first, but he put it the best, as far as we know. on copyright extension... in 1841.

        At present the holder of copyright has the public feeling on his side. Those who invade copyright are regarded as knaves who take the bread out of the mouths of deserving men. Everybody is well pleased to see them restrained by the law, and compelled to refund their ill-gotten gains. No tradesman of good repute will have anything to do with such disgraceful transactions. Pass this law: and that feeling is at an end. Men very different from the present race of piratical booksellers will soon infringe this intolerable monopoly. Great masses of capital will be constantly employed in the violation of the law. Every art will be employed to evade legal pursuit; and the whole nation will be in the plot.

  • I've been referring to ASCAP in the same breath as the RIAA, MPAA, and IFPI for some time now. I hadn't actually heard of any specific misbehavior on its part, but it was inevitable that it would emulate its siblings and try to expand the reach of its extortion. Now I have a specific instance I can quote finally.

  • Isn't there some sort of penalty for abusing the legal process?

    Even if the bar's set stupidly high (like for perjury) surely some of the SLAPPs should qualify for some pretty extreme penalties.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by shark72 ( 702619 )

      There sure are, but that's not germain here.

      I think you (and others) may have been tripped up by the "the law is pretty clearly on his side" text in the summary. The submitter apparently took what BA Dave wrote at face value.

      What BA Dave apparently doesn't understand is that 2Live Crew ended up paying royalties.

      Thankfully, you can create a parody without getting permission from the original author -- the law gives us this right, although court cases usually come down to what's defined as a parody.

      However (a

  • Parody etc. (Score:2, Informative)

    by sbeckstead ( 555647 )
    Actually parody only covers the words that you change. If you use the original music you must pay for that privilege. Weird Al has gotten permission from the artists to use their music and when he didn't he ceased and desisted from performing that song. This is a considerably more dicey challenge than simple pirating.
  • Send the court a 1 page pro se response:

    The Defendant's actions are protected forms of expression under Supreme Court decisions ... and ...

    Defendant therefore requests immediate dismissal of this case With Prejudice and forty-four cents recompense for his postage.

    And if this case is taking place in California, or any other state with SLAAP laws, file a SLAPP counterclaim.
  • by MarkvW ( 1037596 ) on Friday May 15, 2009 @02:48PM (#27970793)

    (1) Take down the website. This stops their claim of damages. They probably have no damages anyway.
    (2) Study the law of copyright and federal civil procedure. This could take awhile. Find a lawyer to help explain the rough spots to you. Study up very carefully about Rule 11 sanctions, because the SOBs are going to accuse you of Rule 11 violations if they decide to fight you. You may also be able to claim some damages from them for abuse of copyright--research that too.
    (3) File a declaratory judgment action in federal court asking that your rights be determined to be fair use, and seek any damages you are entitled to.
    (4) The industry must then respond to your lawsuit. This is VERY expensive to them in relationship to the damages that they can recover (probably zero). It is a bad business decision for them to hunt you down. In THEIR best scenario, they'll have to pay at least a few thousand dollars to kick your ass in a situation where they can't get any money out of you. (If you're a mean, vindictive, son of a bitch, you can get your musician-friends to file their own declaratory judgments actions after your case is over).
    (5) If they fight you, do your best. If you win, you're a demigod and you get a federal judge ruling that your use is a fair use. If you lose, what the hell--you fought and you made the corporation pay. If they don't fight you, you get your order saying that your use is a fair use. After you file your lawsuit, they may very well be willing to negotiate (a copyright lawyer is very useful here).
    (6) You can keep your costs way down if you represent yourself. They have to pay a lawyer a few hundred dollars an hour. That's your edge.

    You can torture those sons of bitches if you know the law and if you're in the right. They know that. They'll sing a different tune when faced with litigation costs.

I came, I saw, I deleted all your files.