Catching Up: Derivative Works and Fair Use

These are links I’ve come across in the last couple of months about derivative works and fair use:
Dan Brekke,, Tangled up in Seuss: “Ryan took the text from seven Seuss classics, including ‘The Cat in the Hat’ and ‘Green Eggs and Ham,’ and set them to original tunes that sounded like they were right off Dylan’s mid-’60s releases. He played all the instruments and sang all the songs in Dylan’s breathy, nasal twang. He registered a domain name,, and in February posted his seven tracks online, accompanied by suitably Photoshopped album artwork, under the title ‘Dylan Hears a Who.'”
Derek Bambauer, Info/Law, Abolishing the Derivative Works Right in Copyright, Or, Why Legalizing “The Grey Album” Makes Economic Sense: “From an economic perspective, giving copyright holders the right to control production of derivative works – works that transform their expression, such as the movie version of a novel – is unjustified, even harmful. Current scholarship either defends this entitlement as economically sensible or partially reconfigures it. This article assesses the dominant economic rationales for derivative control, and finds them weak at best. Unlike other copyright scholarship, this piece argues that since the right prevents production of attractive, diverse, cheaper new expression, and blocks the promise of re-mix culture, it should be eliminated.”
NY Times: MST3K: The Final Frontier: “Mike Nelson, the show’s longtime host and head writer, has begun a new venture called RiffTrax, and he can now skewer virtually any movie without infringing on copyrights. Recordings of him talking back at movies can be downloaded (for fees ranging from 99 cents to $3.99) from Start playing the DVD or VHS version of the movie and Mr. Nelson’s commentary simultaneously, and the effect is that of a director commenting on a DVD — except that Mr. Nelson is inclined to say, as he does during a scene in ‘Star Trek V: The Final Frontier’ in which William Shatner climbs a mountain, ‘He’s actually trying to scale his own ego.'”
Ron Coleman, Likelihood of Confusion: One cease and desist letter I won’t be sending: “What makes mass murderers and war criminals fear the Wrath of Wally?”
Barton Beebe, An Empirical Study of U.S. Copyright Fair Use Opinions, 1978-2005: “Working from a data set consisting of all reported federal opinions that made substantial use of the Section 107 four-factor test for fair use through 2005, the Article shows which factors and subfactors actually drive the outcome of the fair use test in practice, how the fair use factors interact, how courts inflect certain individual factors, and the extent to which judges stampede the factor outcomes to conform to the overall test outcome. It also presents empirical evidence of the extent to which lower courts either deliberately ignored or were ignorant of the doctrine of the leading cases, particularly those from the Supreme Court.”
Julie Hilden, Findlaw, Perez Hilton, Michelle Malkin, and the “Fair Use” Exception to Copyright Law: What Are the Rules When Bloggers Use Video Excerpts and Photographs Without Permission?: “Recently, two prominent bloggers — political pundit Michelle Malkin and celebrity gossip purveyor Perez Hilton (not to be confused with Paris Hilton) — have been involved in battles over the scope of the exception for ‘fair use’ of copyrighted material.”