Penny Dreadful (the_red_baron) wrote in societyofsatire,
Penny Dreadful

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Fair and Balanced

I can't believe none of us have thought to post about this story yet.

Some background: you've undoubtedly heard conservative-leaning types complaining about the "liberal media." The Fox News Network was founded as a supposedly unbiased counterpart to "liberal" news stations like CNN. They like to make a big deal out of this, with slogans like "Fair & Balanced" and "We Report, You Decide." (Widely parodied on the left as "We Distort, You Deride.")

Now then. Popular liberal humorist Al Franken, author of such works as Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, has written a book satirizing conservative media, titled Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.

Fox News is now attempting to sue Franken for trademark infringement, claiming that they have trademarked the phrase "fair & balanced" and that Franken is clearly trying to confuse people into thinking his book is produced by Fox News. This despite the fact that (a) according to a lot of lawyer-type-people, this can't possibly be a legitimate trademark because "fair and balanced" has been a common catchphrase in journalism since long before Fox News was a glimmer in Rupert Murdoch's eye and Fox hasn't picked on anyone for using the phrase before now, and (b) more importantly, parody and satire are explicitly protected as "fair use" under United States copyright law.

Absurd enough by itself. What's really great, though, is that there's now a growing movement of people who are standing up for the right to satire by adding the phrase "fair and balanced" to their webpages to show just how ridiculous this is. I've done my small part by adding "fair and balanced" to my livejournal interests list, as have 29 other people, and I encourage you all to join us. Maybe we should change this community's title to "Mockery Central: Fair and Balanced"?
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