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Supreme court will hear rap parody case

Rapper Luther Campbell and 2 Live Crew’s argument that parody is presumptively protected by the First Amendment and federal copyright law will be heard by the Supreme Court this fall, with the supporting brief filed Wednesday by the group’s attorneys.

2 Live Crew’s parody of Roy Orbison’s song “Oh Pretty Woman” was challenged by publisher Acuff-Rose Music.

A U.S. District Court in Tennessee found the parody was fair use under federal copyright laws, but a federal appeals court disagreed, and the Supreme Court has agreed to resolve the issue this fall. Representing 2 Live Crew will be Florida attorney Bruce Rogow and Nashville attorney Alan Turk.

Supporting the raunchy rappers’ arguments for artistic freedom for parodies are various artists, organizations and entertainment entities, with friends of the court briefs expected from HBO, Comedy Central, NBC, the Harvard Lampoon Inc., satirist Mark Russell and the ACLU.

Campbell and 2 Live Crew won a federal appellate court ruling last year that held their record “As Nasty As They Wanna Be” was not proven to be obscene. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of the decision.

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