If you haven't had an opportunity to check out the Tumblr "This Charming Charlie" -- seriously, it should have been "You're a Charming Man, Charlie Brown! -- then do yourself a favor and head on over there to waste a couple of hours.
The site posts classic Peanuts comic strips, but with all the words replaced by Smiths lyrics. Considering the complete and unending angst of Charlie Brown, it actually works better than you'd ever believe. Each one is a study in a whole new kind of thought process on the terrors of childhood, not to mention a really good reminder of just how clever the Smiths were as lyricists.
Now, here's the deal about stuff like this, even when it's being given away to the masses free as a bird... there are people in the world dedicated to stopping everything possible in the name of copyright infringement in the blind hope that maybe one day in the future a piece of work will be licensed in a manner that justifies a lawyer's fee. Personally, I feel that we'll see Obama pull the Sword from the Stone and be declared Lord High King of England before that happens, but hey, it's a living, I suppose.
Recently Universal, acting on behalf of Johnny Marr, contacted one of the posters on the page, Lauren LoPrete with a cease and desist letter regarding her comics. LoPrete retained the services of attorney Dan Booth, who earlier this month filed a counter-notice to Tumblr patiently explaining what exactly fair use is, something that Universal has proven that it understands very poorly in the past when they went after special education teacher Ally Townsend for posting sign-language versions of pop songs to be enjoyed by the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
LoPrete has found another ally in the fight, though: Morrissey himself. Morrissey, who is represented by Warner rather than Universal -- though if you clicked that link about Townsend above, you already know that the markings of the rabid weasel are not particularly important when it's hooked onto your femoral artery -- was reported by the True to You Morrissey fanzine as delighted with the strip and hoped that it would continue.
Because Morrissey and Marr jointly own the rights to The Smiths' lyrics, neither can move to stop use if the other approves.
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Booth, in his letter to Universal, made it very clear that the company needs to start looking before it leaps into these takedown notices.
"She could have sued Universal under Section 512(f) of the DMCA for making a material misrepresentation in its takedown notice," wrote Booth. "But she won't; you're lucky that she's much too busy being awesome."
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