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Barbie Laughs at Mattel Again

When will Mattel realize that parodies of Barbie are a GOOD thing, confirming the spunky little tart’s cultural significance and continued relevance – worry when they STOP with the homages. Some people/companies are really stupid:

    Mattel Inc. could use some help after losing another round Monday in its legal battle against artists who skewer the iconic doll in social commentary.

    In the case, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower-court ruling that the El Segundo company had stepped over the line when it sued a Utah artist who photographed naked Barbie dolls stuffed into blenders, rolled up in enchiladas and speared on fondue forks.

    The court ruled that the toy maker ought to pay the legal costs Tom Forsythe racked up defending his “Food Chain Barbie” artwork, a bill that is expected to exceed $2 million.

    The copyright law’s “fair use” exception gives Forsythe the right to strip and contort the impossibly perfect doll for his art, the court said, so Mattel’s infringement claims could be viewed as unreasonable.

    After all, the court reasoned, it’s not as if Mattel were going to bring out its own version of naked Barbie-in-a-blender. Forsythe’s “infringement had no discernible impact on Mattel’s market for derivative uses,” the court said. “The benefits to the public in allowing such use – allowing artistic freedom and expression and criticism of a cultural icon – are great.”

    ….The case is at least the third in two years in which a court has told Mattel that copyright laws are meant to hammer street vendors who sell knockoffs, not artists’ free expression.

    ….”There has been a disturbing trend with companies using a variety of copyright and trademark laws to suppress forms of speech they do not like in ways that stifle legitimate criticism,” said Peter Eliasburg, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer in Los Angeles who represented Forsythe. “This sends a message that there is a risk involved in bringing these kinds of cases.” [LA Times]

More on the artist:

    Forsythe has said he uses Barbies to criticize “the materialistic and gender-oppressive values” he believes the dolls embody. In an interview Monday, he said that with the help of the attorneys who worked for free on his case, “I wasn’t scared off. It was a ridiculous lawsuit.”

    One of Forsythe’s photos, “Barbie Enchiladas,” shows four Barbie dolls inside a lit oven, wrapped in tortillas and covered with salsa in a casserole dish. The appeals court said he earned $3,659 selling postcards of his “Food Chain Barbie” series. [SF Chronicle]

Lily and I love Barbie, though I imagine for different reasons. I see her as an indomitable symbol of freedom, big boobs, tiny waists, and rampant image mongering: four of the core foundations upon which this nation was built. Can I get an amen!?!

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: Twitter@amhaunted,, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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