Just An Online Minute... Site Strikes Blow For Satire
Among the material on his site was a page he created to parody "Barney"--yes, the fictional purple dinosaur. In the posts, Frankel suggested that Barney's friendly facade was a mask for his real, satanic nature. One picture captioned "What Barney Looks Like After the Show" displays Barney with red eyes, jack-o-lantern red teeth, and a pentagram above the number 666 on his chest. Copy on the site includes passages like, "Many tasty tips for preparing the Enemy can be found in the Barney Cookbook."
One would think that Barney's owner--Lyons Partnership--would understand about satire. One would be wrong. From 2002 through last year, Lyons Partnership's lawyers sent at least four cease-and-desist orders to Frankel, accusing him of violating the company's copyright. One e-mail, dated Feb. 11, 2002, accused him of using copyrighted images to describe "the use and threat of violence towards Barney."
Stuart went to the nonprofit group Electronic Frontier Foundation, which got involved and sued Lyons in August, asking the court to rule once and for all that the parody site didn't violate copyright law.
But Lyons apparently came to its senses before the case got very far in court. Today, the EFF announced that Lyons agreed to settle the case by withdrawing its threats against Frankel and reimbursing him for the fees he spent defending himself.