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The Wastrel
12/08/2003 2:54pm,
Entertainment - Reuters

Supreme Court Allows Rosa Parks to Sue Rap Duo
2 hours, 1 minute ago Add Entertainment - Reuters to My Yahoo!


By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) cleared the way on Monday for civil rights icon Rosa Parks to proceed with her lawsuit against OutKast and others over the rap music duo's hit song with her name as its title.


Reuters Photo


Related Links
Parks v. LaFace Records, et al. (FindLaw)



The justices let stand a U.S. appeals court ruling that reinstated Parks' false advertising and publicity claims against OutKast and three Bertelsmann AG (news - web sites) units -- LaFace Records, the record producer, and Arista Records and BMG Entertainment, the distributors.


Parks made history in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat to a white man and move to the back of a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama.


Her arrest, which became a defining moment in the civil rights movement, led to a 381-day boycott of the bus system by blacks. It resulted in the end of segregation on public transportation and became a catalyst for organized boycotts, sit-ins and demonstrations across the South.


The song, "Rosa Parks," released as part of the 1998 album "Aquemini," was nominated for a Grammy award. The lyrics do not mention her by name, but the chorus says, "Ah, ha, hush that fuss. Everybody move to the back of the bus."


The album by rap recording artists Andre Benjamin and Antwan Patton has sold more than two million copies and the song enjoyed long-lasting success on the Billboard charts.


Parks, a Detroit resident, sued in 1999, claiming use of her name without permission constituted false advertising and infringed on her right to publicity. She also claimed it defamed her character and interfered with a business relationship.


She had approved a collection of gospel recordings by various artists, released in 1995 and entitled "A Tribute to Mrs. Rosa Parks."


A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in 1999, ruling constitutional free-speech rights under the First Amendment covered the use of Parks' name.


The appeals court upheld the dismissal of the claims of defamation and interference with a business relationship, but reinstated the rest of the lawsuit.


It said the defendants needed to show some artistic reason for calling the song "Rosa Parks." The appeals court sent the case back for more hearings to determine whether use of her name was symbolic, as the defendants argued, or disguised commercial advertisement.


Attorneys for OutKast and the other defendants appealed to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to hear the case. They said the appeals court unconstitutionally allowed public figures to use trademark and right-of-publicity laws to censor speech.


But the high court rejected the appeal without comment.



http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=638&ncid=762&e=1&u=/nm/20031208/en_nm/court_parks_dc

The Wastrel
12/08/2003 2:55pm,
So you can't write about historically significant people now? Lovely.

(I realize that there is no final verdict yet. I just think Parks' suit is really disgusting.)

blankslate
12/08/2003 3:09pm,
Hey Ya! is the jam!

The_Ghost
12/08/2003 3:10pm,
I personally enjoy Outkast's new raps...and songs.

Mr. Mantis
12/08/2003 3:13pm,
She's a public figure, they didn't use her image did they? I have to agree with the Defendants on this one. This is another one of those cases that is sad to see.

John A Butz
12/08/2003 3:34pm,
The joys of litigation, America's favorite passtime...

Freddy
12/08/2003 3:45pm,
The only I have to say is: ONLY IN AMERICA!

Freddy
12/08/2003 3:48pm,
Something like that would probably never happen in Canada. America seems to be the law suite capital of the world. Shhheshhh! never mind if a burglar broke into your home in America and he trips and falls down the stairs the owner of the home probably gets sue! Ridiculus is mildly putting it!

blankslate
12/08/2003 3:51pm,
Outkast is great:

"What's cooler than cool? ICE COLD!!

Shake it Like a Polaroid Picture! Shake it Like a Polaroid Picture!"

Profound.

KageReaper
12/08/2003 3:56pm,
"Don't want to meet yo Daddy...just want you in my caddy!!"
Hey Ya! is great song

SamHarber
12/09/2003 4:41am,
Originally posted by Mr_Mantis
She's a public figure, they didn't use her image did they? I have to agree with the Defendants on this one. This is another one of those cases that is sad to see.
To me, this is a tricky question.
Does she want to be a public figure? Its one thing to be a catalyst for change, its another to be a publicity seeking celebrity.

If she wants to be known in the public domain, then she's on shakey ground, if she just wants to be a private person, then she should have every right to privacy.

Its like actors. Some of them seek the fame and publicity, so can't really criticise when they get unflattering coverage as well. Then there are those who just want to act in a film, and want to have a private life of their own away from the media
glare.

Mind you... I hate the cult of celebrity, so I'm biased.

Pandinha
12/09/2003 4:45am,
Bullshit.

Unbelieavable.

Dochter
12/09/2003 4:46am,
Sounds like the crux of her case is business.

Mr. Mantis
12/09/2003 11:44am,
Originally posted by SamHarber
To me, this is a tricky question.
Does she want to be a public figure? Its one thing to be a catalyst for change, its another to be a publicity seeking celebrity.

If she wants to be known in the public domain, then she's on shakey ground, if she just wants to be a private person, then she should have every right to privacy.

Its like actors. Some of them seek the fame and publicity, so can't really criticise when they get unflattering coverage as well. Then there are those who just want to act in a film, and want to have a private life of their own away from the media
glare.

Mind you... I hate the cult of celebrity, so I'm biased.

Well this is not a defmation action, so the standards applicable to the voluntary vs. involuntary public figure rules do not necessarily apply. Her image was not used.

Its a commercial speech issue. I would have to investigate it more. If the image was used, it would be a slam dunk, but just a name, I don't know, seems weak.

Justme
12/09/2003 11:45am,
Whos Outkast?

Mr. Mantis
12/09/2003 1:08pm,
Okay, I looked into it, I guess the name is sufficient for the appropriation / invasion of privacy cause of action. Being a proponent of privacy, I can not fault her. Public figure or not it makes no difference. I also hate that it came down to a lawsuit, but hey we don't know what happened behind the scenes before the suit was filed.

Now if there was no commercial aspect, we wouldn't see this case. Sad but true, that's the way it is.