August 24, 2006 | By Derek Slater

EFF Sues Barney The Dinosaur To Defend Online Free Speech

Barney the purple dinosaur may teach kids a lot about playing fair, but his lawyers need a lesson in fair use. Now EFF is fighting back on behalf of one website owner to stop Barney's lawyers' abuse of copyright and trademark law.

Yesterday, EFF asked a federal court [PDF] in New York to uphold Stuart Frankel's online parody of Barney as non-infringing protected speech. Stuart posted the parody on his website in 1998, and Barney's lawyers have repeatedly sent him baseless cease-and-desist letters over the last four years.

This isn't the first time Barney's lawyers have wrongly threatened web publishers. In fact, they sent one of their unfounded threats to EFF in 2001, when we mirrored another non-infringing parody. At that time, EFF sent a response, which attempted to correct Barney's lawyers' prehistoric understanding of copyright and trademark laws. We also publicized their threats and sent out a call for others who had been threatened by Barney. That's when Stuart first contacted us.

EFF hopes this case will help put an end to Barney's unfounded threats once and for all, and serve as a lesson to other overreaching rights holders. Read the press release and complaint [PDF].

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