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August 22, 2003 4:57 PM   Subscribe

Fox Loses Bid to Stop Sale of Franken Book "There are hard cases and there are easy cases. This is an easy case," said U.S. District Judge Denny Chin. "This case is wholly without merit both factually and legally." As so many of us understood without the need for big expensive lawyers.
posted by billsaysthis (29 comments total)

 
Fox lawyer: "To me, it's quite ambiguous as to what the message is," she said. "It's a deadly serious cover ... This is much too subtle to be considered a parody."

Apparently, Fox believes that satire must be clearly labeled.
posted by Slothrup at 5:09 PM on August 22, 2003


Part 1, here, actually.

Kirkaracha gets the gold.
posted by jaronson at 5:12 PM on August 22, 2003


"Most singular"
posted by clavdivs at 5:23 PM on August 22, 2003


Local B&N didn't have copies yet. The clerk mumbled something about some problem with a lawsuit or something . . . I really miss the days when bookstores had employees who actually read and thought about things.
posted by palancik at 5:43 PM on August 22, 2003


Of course the case was meritless, this clearly fell into parody, but being a bully is what the right is all about. Fox knew it was going to lose, but it did something very effective, it sent a message. The message is to its critics: If you're hoping to take us on be prepared to goto court. This could chill dissent and make some smaller publishers without deep pockets want to pass up on books that might angry those running the post-9/11 GOP power grab.
posted by skallas at 6:08 PM on August 22, 2003


It's quite amusing how much free publicity Franken got because of this lawsuit.

I wonder how many more books he will sell because of it.
posted by entropy at 6:15 PM on August 22, 2003


B&N here didn't have it either, so last night I visited my local independent bookstore which had lots of copies prominently displayed. When I went to pay, the person at the checkout counter was even reading a copy. My favorite chapter so far - "I Bitch-Slap Bernie Goldberg".
posted by lasm at 7:08 PM on August 22, 2003


...Now Caitie, if people say mean things to you, remember... it means nothing unless you believe those things.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:38 PM on August 22, 2003


Clavdivs: WTF?
posted by billsaysthis at 9:33 PM on August 22, 2003


You know, the thing I've always wondered is why exactly trials like this get resolved quickly, and ordinary criminal trials seem to take absolutely forever to get resolved. Imagine if our whole justice system actually worked this fast.
posted by piper28 at 9:45 PM on August 22, 2003



You know, the thing I've always wondered is why exactly trials like this get resolved quickly, and ordinary criminal trials seem to take absolutely forever to get resolved. Imagine if our whole justice system actually worked this fast.


Actually most criminal trials do work pretty quickly. In most cases it is in the best interests of both the prosecution and the defense to cut a quick deal. Only idiots or the extremely confidant actually go to trial because trials cost a heck of lot of money and are a high-risk strategy.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:54 PM on August 22, 2003


Sorry palancik. I swung my my local bookstore today and they had a pile of them (already disappearing). I'm about 2/3 of the way through.
posted by phong3d at 11:18 PM on August 22, 2003


Now that the book will soon be out, I wonder if it will cover Mr. Franken's own difficulties with the truth?

Hello, Pot? Yeah, this is Kettle ...
posted by Ayn Marx at 11:26 PM on August 22, 2003


>Hello, Pot? Yeah, this is Kettle ...

Oh please, there's a world of difference between "Saddam has the bomb!" and "I'm writing a book called Savin' It, tell me about the girls you wouldn't have sex with so I can write a book mocking you."

I think its fairly obvious there's a difference between fraud and off-color sarcasism.

"Hey you're not from the department of bowel regulatory studies! Officer arrest this man!"
posted by skallas at 11:42 PM on August 22, 2003


Now that the book will soon be out, I wonder if it will cover Mr. Franken's own difficulties with the truth?

Yes, that letter can be found in chapter 33, "Abstinence Heroes". The other 27 people he sent the letter to are in chapter 34, "Abstinence Heroes II".
posted by lasm at 11:43 PM on August 22, 2003


I am so glad you've posted this because I have been waiting for weeks to write:

FRANKENFILTER!
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:16 AM on August 23, 2003


Ann, this is similar to Franken's parody in a previous book where he wrote conservatives to have them "name government programs that worked" to counter a chapter in Rush Limbaugh's book where he sarcastically claimed that not a single government program worked outside of the military.

Furthermore, I keep reading this story and people linking to it as if there's some kind of "a ha! Gotcha, Franken!" angle to it, and yet no one seems to wonder how, in the midst of a news story about him that does nothing but raise publicitiy for his book, Franken suddenly decides at the exact same time to release these apology letters. I mean, go ahead if it makes you feel better, but something tells me Franken's tormented soul wasn't what made him write a sarcastic and hilariously mocking letter to the Attorney General.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:25 AM on August 23, 2003


One could argue that Fox was obligated by the dilution clause of trademark law to do something. Fox decided to make the best of it by publishing a brief so ridiculous that it would excite all of the Fox News fans into a frenzy. You can just envision clauses from the legal brief being read out loud as Franken is described as "shrill" and a "C-level commentator" with members of the fox news peanut gallery calling out, "ooo... snap! damn, that franken guy got cracked on!"

Clearly Franken and Ailes need to face off on Jerry Springer.
posted by deanc at 8:57 AM on August 23, 2003


Wait! Wait! I have my new one-liner to summarize the proceedings-- "The only unstable, shrill, C-level commentator using the 'Fair and Balanced' trademark is Roger Ailes."

Thank you, thank you. I will be here all week! Tip the waitstaff!
posted by deanc at 9:04 AM on August 23, 2003


Hello, Pot? Yeah, this is Kettle ...

You have got to be kidding, right? Can you really not see the difference here?
posted by LittleMissCranky at 9:21 AM on August 23, 2003


Salon has an amusing article on the situation. I know, it's registration required so I'll give you the funny part.

"Is it really likely someone is going to be confused as to whether Fox News or Bill O'Reilly is endorsing this book?" asked the judge.

"It is likely consumers could believe that," replied Hanswirth. Later she added, "There's no real message that this is a book of humor or political satire. It's a deadly serious cover and it's using the Fox News trademark" to sell itself.

In response, the judge pointed out that one of O'Reilly's own books is titled "The O'Reilly Factor: The Good, the Bad, and the Completely Ridiculous in American Life." "Is that not a play on "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly?'" Chin asked, noting that the movie title is also trademarked.

"I don't know," replied Hanswirth.

"You don't know?" asked the judge.

"I don't know," she repeated, before arguing, once again, that Franken is "intending to use the trademark to sell the product."

Hanswirth went on to argue that Franken has diluted Fox's trademark by using it "to ridicule Fox's No. 1 talent, Mr. O'Reilly." She then suggested that, because Coulter is on the cover, "somebody looking at this could determine Ms. Coulter has some kind of official relationship with Fox."

"The President and Vice President are also on the cover, are they not?" asked Chin. "Are consumers likely to believe they are associated with Fox News?"
posted by whatever at 10:20 AM on August 23, 2003


"The President and Vice President are also on the cover, are they not?" asked Chin. "Are consumers likely to believe they are associated with Fox News?"

You mean they're not?
posted by kgasmart at 11:49 AM on August 23, 2003


"There are hard cases and there are easy cases. This is an easy case," said U.S. District Judge Denny Chin. "This case is wholly without merit both factually and legally."

from the article.
the picture is very clear.
billysaysthis
posted by clavdivs at 1:08 PM on August 23, 2003


Go to Borders. They will have it. Barnes and Noble is a stale sponge.
posted by Satapher at 1:24 PM on August 23, 2003


Hello, Pot? Yeah, this is Kettle ...
You have got to be kidding, right? Can you really not see the difference here?

Of course I do. One party can lie, and when they get caught, cry, "Hey, I was just kidding."

Being a political satirist is a great gig. When attempts at serious discourse fall flat, you can resort to low-ball jokes and making faces. And, if you happen to make an astute observation in the course of funnin', why that just shows what a sharp social critic you are.

Overall, though, you needn't be really good at either; witness Franken. Preach to the converted and you can't fail. Franken and Fox have more in common that either would like to admit.
posted by Ayn Marx at 5:18 PM on August 23, 2003


Being a political satirist is a great gig. When attempts at serious discourse fall flat, you can resort to low-ball jokes and making faces.

You must really be out to lunch if you thought Franken's letter to Ashcroft had any element of serious discourse.
posted by sreilly at 6:46 PM on August 23, 2003


For me at least, this falls into what is becoming a more and more disturbing trend of using copyright and trademark law to shut down satire and parody. In the last two years we've seen Mattel sue over photographs of Barbie in a blender, Weird Al back away from videographic parody of Emenem (having Weird Al do one of your songs is most likely the best sign that you have arrived as a pop music icon), and The Wind Done Gone held up in a court strugle with the owners of Gone With the Wind. That is not to say that I find Franken to be all that and a bag of chips. But I recently read a series of articles about the grandfather of both American satire and the American free press, Benjamin Franklin who responded to works of satire against him with a shrug and a grin.

Basically the rule here is don't dish it out if you can't take it.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:11 PM on August 23, 2003


>Being a political satirist is a great gig.

It may be the only gig for lefties who want to criticize the status quo. Look at the serious anger in Anne Coulter's writing, yet when a lefty wants to critcize the status quo he or she must play the comedy card or be put at the end of the stack at the library with Chomsky, Zinn, etc.

Lenny Bruce, Michael Moore, Al Franken, Jon Stewart, etc. Why do these guys need to pretend to be comedians to say something political that may upset a few million people? Is this how it is in the US or everywhere in the world?

>Franken and Fox have more in common that either would like to admit.

Yeah, Fox is just hilarious isn't it? Hell, it scares me. There is little common ground there other than newstainment, except Franken et al have to play the newstainment card or they'll get ripped to shreds by the defenders of all things 'merican.
posted by skallas at 11:47 PM on August 23, 2003


I'm not unamerican! I'm a comedian!
posted by skallas at 12:22 AM on August 24, 2003


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