OPOSSUMS OF TRUTH DENIED LICENSE FOR PARODY
SOLANA BEACH, Calif. — NOVEMBER 20th, 2001 — Dr. Stephen Baird and the Opossums of Truth were denied a license to record a planned parody of the gospel song “I’ll Fly Away” for the upcoming album, “Ain’t Gonna Be No Judgment Day.” Dr. Baird’s parody, “I Shall Decay” uses the melody of this familiar gospel song to detail the reality of passing on. “It’s truth in advertising” said Dr. Baird of his parody. “Scientific Gospel is all about data. When you die, you decay.”
In a statement from the copyright holders, Tim Allen of Integrated Copyright Group representing Albert E. Brumley and Sons, said, “As you are aware, “I’ll Fly Away” is one of the most well know Christian hymns. As it was written with a specific intent and message by Albert E. Brumley, ICG and our client respect that original message and the original words. It is our policy to deny alternate lyrics to this song so that the composition maintains its original intent.”
“We’re dissapointed that these people have such a narrow minded view. However, we are pretty sure that this parody is covered by the fair use parody law. We’ll just have to wait and see what evolves,” said Dr. Baird.
A precedent setting U.S. Supreme Court case, argued 9 November 1993 and decided 7 March 1994, (The United States Supreme Court in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. 114S.Ct. 1164, 127 L.Ed.2d 500 (1994)) stated in no uncertain terms that a parody as a form of criticism or comment could be fair use of a copyrighted work. The District Court granted summary judgment for Luther Campbell and his rap group 2 Live Crew in a lawsuit that arose out of the rap group’s use of Roy Orbision’s “Oh, Pretty Woman” for their parody, “Pretty Woman,” based upon the song’s fair use parody defense. This decision was reversed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals who ruled against the fair use parody defense because of the commercial nature of the 2 Live Crew rendition and the presumption of market harm that they could cause to the Orbison/Dees song. The Sixth Circuit’s decision was then appealed to the Supreme Court where the Court reversed and remanded the judgment. Justice J. Souter delivered the opinion for a unamimous Court. J. Kennedy filed a concurring opinion.
Scientific Gospel Productions is still attempting to gain legal rights to produce Dr. Baird’s parody, “I Shall Decay.”