Comedy Partners, and other entities behind the still-going-strong animated comedy show South Park, won big recently in the Eastern District of Wisconsin when they won a dismissal on fair use grounds. It is relatively rare for a copyright defendant to prevail on fair use at the motion to dismiss phase, before an answer is filed or discovery is taken. In this case, however, the court was able to take judicial notice of the plaintiff’s music video and the allegedly infringing South Park episode and found fair use without recourse to any other external evidence necessary.
The case involves the music video for a song titled “What What (In the Butt).” As described by the court, “[t]he heart of the video features an adult African American male ensconced in a bright red, half-buttoned, silk shirt, dancing, grinning creepily at the camera, and repeatedly singing the same cryptic phrases: ‘I said, what what, in the butt’ and ‘you want to do it in my butt, in my butt.'” Not every day you read something like that in a judicial opinion, but when you do it almost invariably is in a copyright case. . . [Read more…]