Orange County’s Center for Bio-Ethical Reform was handed a victory by the U.S. District Court in Michigan on June 15 over Northland Family Planning Clinic. Eugene Volokh provided an analysis of the decision on June 19.
Northland Family Planning Clinic [in the Detroit MI area] created a video titled “Every Day, Good Women Choose Abortion,” which, true to its title, aimed to tell women that getting an abortion is a decision that good women can and do make.
Defendants [Center for Bio-Ethical Reform in Orange County CA] created several videos that included several verbatim segments of the Good Women Choose Abortion video, interspersed with graphic imagery of abortions and, in some versions, some commentary, e.g., a quote from George Orwell.
Plaintiffs sued, claiming copyright infringement. Defendants argued the use was a fair use, and the court agreed. An excerpt, though please read the whole opinion (which is pretty readable) for the details:
“In this case, the balance of the [17 U.S.C. § 107] factors weighs in favor of finding fair use. While the accused works have some commercial use, their transformative character [as criticism of the original] substantially eclipses that consideration.
Thus, the first factor tips in favor of Defendants. Because the Northland Video is, at least in part, a creative work, the second factor militates in favor of Northland. The third factor weighs in favor of Defendants because they did not use an excessive amount of the Northland Video to create their parody, in light of the Fisher factors [which state that parodies and similar critical works are generally entitled to use substantial portion of the original in order to comment on it -EV].
Finally, the fourth factor also weighs in favor of Defendants because the accused Videos did not create a cognizable market injury to the Northland Video. Though Northland many have suffered pecuniary or reputational losses as a result of the accused Videos, those injuries are not recognized under the Copyright Act….
To see the original Northland abortion clinic video, click here.
To see the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform video, click here
For the full analysis on Volokh.com, click here