October 17, 2005 | By Rebecca Jeschke

Barney's Temper Tantrum

Barney the purple dinosaur is throwing another temper tantrum that his little fans would envy. And his fury is even less justified than that of a three-year-old who wants an ice cream.

Lawyers for the TV character have sent another cease and desist notice to the creator of a Barney parody site (http://dustyfeet.com/evil/enemy.html). This is the same webpage that the same lawyer threatened back in 2002. And, just like in 2002, this Barney parody is unequivocally protected under both the First Amendment and fair use law.

The cease and desist notice threatens the webpage creator with a claim of copyright infringement to his Internet service provider. But it's illegal to make that claim if you know that the charge is bogus. EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn, who represents the Barney parodist, points out that EFF and another client were paid $125,000 in damages in a similar case (see Diebold Coughs Up Cash in Copyright Case: http://www.eff.org/news/archives/2004_10.php#002009).

This is another example of corporations using intellectual property laws to silence legitimate online activity. The Internet offers incredible opportunity for people to express their views, parody politicians and TV characters, and criticize businesses. This is why EFF is fighting the harassment at every turn. If you want to learn more about the problem, check out http://www.chillingeffects.org. And if you receive a cease and desist letter from Barney's attorneys, please let us know here at EFF.


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