Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Fox vs. Franken

Fox News is sueing satirist Al Franken over the title of his new book. It's called "Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right" Fox says they copyrighted the phrase "Fair and Balanced" and Franken's use of it constitutes copyright infringement. As pointed out in the article, Fox lawyers believe that Franken's use of the word "Balanced" with "and" as well as "Fair" in front of it would "blur and tarnish" their good name and slogan.

Fox News... is worried... that someone will think... wait for it... their reporting is not completely fair and balanced. Ain't that a hoot? Guess what Fox? People already think that. A political satirist's book isn't gonna change that perception.

They go on to call Franken - in the actual court papers mind you - "either intoxicated or deranged" (stemming from an incident where Franken is accused of verball attacking Bill O'Reilly at a press correspondents' dinner) and a "'parasite' who hopes to use Fox' reputation to confuse the public and boost the sales of his book." Can you get more confusing than Bill O'Reilly? I'm not much of a news person but I have trouble believing any of his hype. As far Franken's books sales... Guess what? Sales are rather drastically up since the lawsuit was filed.

The Fox boys also have a problem with the cover of the book. Seems it too closely resembles Bill O'Reilly's books. Well, isn't imitation the sincerely form of flattery? Ok, probably not in this case. But, Franken is a satirist and parody and satire laws are well on his side for this one. And he knows it.

Franken on the lawsuit: "I normally prefer not to be out of the country on vacation when I'm sued. However, from everything I know about law regarding satire, I'm not worried."

As far as being called "intoxicated or deranged," Franken laughs it off and says, "I thought for a moment I was a Fox commentator."

He's even making light of the lawsuit. "And by the way, a few months ago, I trademarked the word 'funny.' So when Fox calls me 'unfunny,' they're violating my trademark," says the satirist. "I'm seriously considering a countersuit."

Fox, you'll find that life is much easier when you can laugh at yourself.

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