Friday, August 31, 2007

Buying Copyright to Buy Censorship

Australian pop singer Dannii Minogue is reported to have a fondness for lap dancers. She has denied a recent story that she went to a lap dancing club in Cardiff, Wales, where lap dancer Kelly Simpson states that Ms. Minogue paid "£30 for a saucy dance and was so impressed that an hour later she asked for another steamy session. She loved holding eye contact with me. Afterwards I got changed into a baby doll negligee and she asked for another dance." Ms. Minogue denies she was at the club.

The story has gotten traction because of other stories that Ms. Mingue, through her lawyers, purchased the copyright interest in an apparently admitted event a year ago with another lap dancer, named Jupiter, at the improbably named "Puss in Boots" Club. The pictures reportedly show Ms. Minogue engaged in sexual acts with the dancer. See story here. Ms. Minogue's lawyers are reported to be attempting to have the pictures pulled off of websites on the basis of the purchased copyrights.

Buying a copyright to suppress unfavorable remarks or portraits is not new. The most well-known example is Rosemont Enterprises, Inc. v. Random House, Inc., 366 F.2d 303 (2d Cir. 1966), where Howard Hughes tried to kill a story about himself. The Second Circuit stopped such misuse of copyright by relying on fair use, although there was a two judge concurring opinion relying on the First Amendment. (Why in a three judge panel this wasn't the majority opinion is unclear to me). Misuse itself another possible defense, as has been suggested by Judge Posner.

No comments: