Sunday, April 17, 2005

Hush That Fuss

If last year's presidential debates where any indication, there is a popular belief that there are many unnecessary lawsuits out there, but the estate of Rosa Parks suing Outkast has got to be near the top of the list of amazing wastes of our legal system. If you missed it, here is the story from nme:
OUTKAST have settled a lawsuit with civil rights activist ROSA PARKS.

Parks, who helped trigger the civil rights movement in the 1950s and the rap duo have come to an agreement over the use of her name on the group's 1998 'Aquemini' album.

Under the settlement, OutKast and co-defendants Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Arista Records LLC and LaFace Records will help to develop educational programs to "enlighten today's youth about the significant role Rosa Parks played in making America a better place for all races," according to a written statement.
...Parks unsuccessfuly sued the band in 1999 for defamation and trademark infringement because they did not ask permission to use her name, but the band were protected under the First Amendment.

Now I know the song and fortunately the nme article does point out one major point that her lawyers may have missed.
The OutKast song ‘Rosa Parks’ does not mention her by name, but its chorus runs “a-ha, hush that fuss, everybody move to the back of the bus.”

Doesn't it seem the two attempts at litigating the song seem have done far more damage to the revered name of Rosa Parks than one inoffensive Outkast song? The sad thing is I'm left with impression that lawyers duped the elderly Mrs. Parks, who apparently now suffers from dementia, into the claim in an attempt to get some cash for themselves.

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