29 November 2006

Sadly, "extinction" is not a legal remedy.

Back in August, I mentioned that, on behalf of the proprietor of a Barney-hatred website, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was suing Barney's owners. I'm pleased to report that Barney has been vanquished:
Lawyers for the plush children's icon have agreed to pay $5,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed against them in August by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which was defending an anti-Barney Web site called the "Source of All Evil."

The settlement, announced on Tuesday, caps a five-year campaign by the New York firm of Gibney, Anthony and Flaherty to rid the Internet of unflattering images of its plump saurian client.

. . . .

According to EFF and scholars of the First Amendment, Barney's lawyers went too far in their frequent legal threats. EFF's lawsuit filed in August sought a ruling that the anti-Barney site created by Stuart Frankel "qualifies as fair use and does not infringe any protected copyright or trademark interest."

The settlement says that, in addition to paying $5,000, Barney's owners will not "sue or otherwise make any claim" against Frankel.

While the settlement technically applies only to the lawsuit involving Frankel, in practice it's likely to deter future legal threats by Barney's lawyers against Web parodies.

"We wish we hadn't had to file a lawsuit to finally get Barney's lawyers to stop harassing a man who was just expressing his opinion about a cultural phenomenon," EFF staff attorney Corynne McSherry said.

Notwithstanding my admitted pleasure over this result, I must confess that I'm neither as pleased nor pleased for the same reasons as "Bonhomie Snoutintroff" from UK's The Register:
I'm especially gratified to see Barney go down for the count, even if, metaphorically speaking, being conquered by the EFF is much like being bitten to death by a duck. I believe he's neurotoxic. I forbid my young son to watch the show, fearing that it will make him dull witted, or gay.

Incidentally, I don't permit him to play with dolls, either, even if they are branded as "action figures". I was given a GI Joe doll as a lad, but quickly, and wisely, lost interest in it. And you see how I turned out: perfectly heterosexual, except for the lightest of crushes on actors Andy Garcia and Johnny Depp. And maybe George Clooney and Russell Crowe too, but I'm not sure.

There were no GI Joes in tight leather jumpsuits or plush talking Barneys in my childhood. I did have a lot of regular stuffed animals, however, all which I loved deeply. None of them were purple or sang gay songs, I can assure you. They remained silent and stoic, even as I lined them up in bed for interrogations each week on prison camp night. There was no wheeney, whiney, pleading "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family" nonsense from them during their simulated water boardings and car-battery 'encouragements'. No sir. It's a harsh world, after all, but I like to think that I brought some joy and tough love into my little corner of it without Barney.

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