South Park sued reports have never broken out until now. Amazingly, a South Park sued story hasn’t happened in 14 years, despite the legions of people offended by the show. For all of their insane parodies of celebrities, news stories and pop culture, they haven’t gotten in any legal trouble from them. But now, as the show’s 14th season ends, Trey Parker and Matt Stone are now in trouble for a parody they did two years ago. In fact, South Park has been sued for parodying a YouTube hit, and not any A-list star.
In the “Canada On Strike” episode, the boys try to make money off the Internet and give it to striking Canadians. To do so, they have Butters sing the infamous YouTube hit “What What (In The Butt).” Although the parody aired in 2008, they are just now courting legal trouble for it.
This week, South Park was sued for copyright infringement by the company that made the original “What What” video. The suit claims that Parker and Stone were “in disregard of and indifferent” to the right of Brownmark Films. In addition to maximum statutory damages, they also want to ban future airings of the spoof – and, by extension, the entire episode in general.
According to the CMU Website, Brownmark Films actually had nice things to say about the “What What” parody in an interview. In fact, they allegedly wrote a thank-you note to Parker and Stone. But somehow, their tone has radically changed.
The grounds to sue South Park is copyright infringement, and directly copying the “What What” song without permission. In comparing both versions, they are fairly similar, without too much difference in the imagery – and no difference in the lyrics. However, that alone may not be enough for a successful suit.
Comedy Central and Viacom argued that the parody is protected by fair use clauses and the First Amendment. Of course, the company wasn’t as eager to stand by Parker and Stone when they spoofed Muhammed in three separate past episodes.
As it turns out, this isn’t the first time in the last month that Parker and Stone have been accused of unlawful copying. South Park wasn’t sued when they directly lifted lines from a video parody of Inception weeks ago, but it was an embarrassing moment. In that case, however, the makers of the video accepted their apology.
An apology might not be enough for Brownmark Films, at least not for the moment. Parker and Stone do have some free time to settle it now, since South Park Season 14 ended last night.
YouTube- “Samwell – What What (In the Butt)”
South Park Studios- “What, What In The Butt”
The CMU Website- “South Park makers sued over music video spoof”