The music world awaits a determination from the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (the federal appeals court that’s so hated by the shitgibbon), in the Blurred Lines case, in which a jury found that the 2013 Robin Thicke / Farrell / T.I. monster hit infringed the 1977 Marvin Gaye song “Got To Give It Up”. Which it doesn’t. The parties and various interested people have been filing appeal briefs with the Ninth Circuit since August, the latest being Thicke & Co.’s third brief, arguing that the question of infringement should never have gone to the trial jury because the only things similar about the songs are groove and feel, and those are things not covered by copyright. Which is true; at least that’s the way it’s always been. At some point the Court will say enough with all this briefing, hold a hearing where the various lawyers can argue stuff, then finally, one day, put out a written decision reversing the hideous jury decision. Hopefully. Looks like it may be a while. And it’s all pretty ridiculous.
A month ago I went a little ballistic over a proposed “right to be forgotten” law introduced in March by a couple of Jamokes in the New York State Legislature. The bill provided that anyone could petition to have “embarrassing” or “irrelevant” or “misleading” things about them magically removed from the internet, just like that! Well, the bill has somehow magically disappeared from the Legislature’s website, just like that!
And a couple of weeks ago we talked about the Fearless Girl / Charging Bull brouhaha down on Wall Street. Nobody’s sued anybody yet on that one, and nobody will. It was a bluff, and a laughable one at that.
Reince Priebus told some news outlet on Sunday that “libel reform” was “I think something we’ve looked at.” We’re talking about laws that might make it easier to sue news organizations, and something the shitgibbon has brought up a number of times whenever real news organizations (that he and his pathetic henchmen have referred to as “the enemy”) were getting under his skin. And of course the media across the board spent inordinate amounts of time and energy reported all angles of this threatened libel reform. Which isn’t going to happen.
Defamation (which is composed of libel and slander) is the tort of wrongfully damaging someone’s reputation, and is largely a matter of common law (although some states have codified the common law) that goes back centuries. It varies a bit state-by-state, but typically involves a statement that’s false (or made in a reckless disregard for the truth) that’s heard or read by people other than the subject, and that causes the subject harm. For public figures, there has to be an element of actual malice—an intent to cause serious harm beyond mere embarrassment.
In the U.S., we have a nice tradition of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and fairly loose defamation laws, especially concerning public figures. Other places are not so loose. In South Korea, for example, true facts are actionable if stating them causes the subject to “lose face.” In the UK, the burden is on a defendant in a defamation case to prove the truth of the allegedly defamatory statement. Of course, in many less developed of democratic countries, the despotic leaders gave themselves greater protections from critical statements, and laws against defamation are used aggressively to stifle dissent. Which is what the shitgibbon, in his childish, narcissistic, ugly little mind, wants to do here.
The shitgibbon has bright orange tissue-thin skin and he hates being made fun of, or being questioned about almost anything. He also has no sense of the law, or truth, or fairness, no sense of humor or balance, and an overwhelming sense of entitlement. So it’s natural for him in all his sad pathetic-ness that he would lash out and seek to hurt those who criticize him and threaten his questionable and corrupt rise to power.
He has a Brietbart honcho on his staff, and he champions the National Enquirer. Right? He wants enhanced libel laws so he can threaten the pillars of world journalism The New York Times and The Washington Post for doing what they aren’t doing enough of right now, and that’s investigative journalism. Against him.
But it’s never going to happen. Literally no one in government gives two shits about this issue other than the shitgibbon. And he’s too stupid to know that he can’t snap his tiny little fingers and make it happen. It’ll have to go through Congress, and even the most venal Republicans there have no interest in helping the tin-pot vulgarian go after his imaginary enemies. Of course this is very much playing to the cheap seats occupied by his ignorant and blood-thirsty base of white-trash losers. When is this madness going to end?
Paul Rapp is a Berkshires art & entertainment lawyer who doesn’t want his water infused with basil and lime, thanks all the same.