Family Guy Wins Suit Against Song Publisher
Created 03/16/2009 - 23:00
A U.S. judge ruled Monday that FAMILY GUY creator Seth MacFarlane and producers did not infringe copyright laws when they parodied "When You Wish Upon a Star" in a 2003 episode, REUTERS reports.
Music publisher Bourne Co., who owns the U.S. rights to the song made famous in the Disney animated feature PINOCCHIO, sued Fox Broadcasting Co. in 2007 for copyright breach, saying the show's parody "I Need a Jew" was a thinly-veiled copy of the music from " When You Wish Upon a Star," just with "new anti-Semitic lyrics" that did damage to the original.
U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts ruled the lyrics and tone of the parody were "strikingly different" from the original, adding that it is fair for the song to be imitated for humorous effect since the music publisher had benefited from the song's use in more wholesome fare (i.e. PINOCCHIO) in the past.
"It is precisely that beneficial association that opens the song up for ridicule by parodists seeking to take the wind out of such lofty, magical, or pure associations," she said.
The song won the Best Original Song Academy Award in 1940 for PINOCCHIO and has been recorded more than 100 times. It was written by composer Leigh Harline and lyricist Ned Washington, and was introduced in the Disney film.
Fox did not initially air the episode when it was first produced, due to the offensive content, the lawsuit noted. It did run on Cartoon Network in 2003 and has also run an estimated 36 times in syndication and reruns since then. Bourne Co. did not return a call seeking comment on Monday.