Tuesday, December 09, 2003

CNN - Supreme Court allows Rosa Parks to sue OutKast - Dec. 8, 2003

Rosa Parks did a tremendous amount of good in the past, but this lawsuit is a sure sign that she's gone senile in her old age.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court refused Monday to intervene in a lawsuit over the hit song "Rosa Parks" by the Grammy-winning musical group OutKast.

The action, taken without comment from the justices, means the 90-year-old civil rights figure can go ahead with her lawsuit against the band.

The 1998 song is about the entertainment industry and its lyrics do not refer to Parks by name. The chorus of the song goes, "Ah-ha, hush that fuss. Everybody move to the back of the bus."

Parks claimed that OutKast violated her publicity and trademark rights and defamed her. She lost her first round in federal court, but a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio, reinstated part of the lawsuit earlier this year.

The case will now return to a lower federal court judge.

Parks wants all references to her removed from future versions of the record.

OutKast has argued that the song is neither false advertising nor a violation of Parks' publicity rights and is protected by the First Amendment.

What the hell was the Supreme Court thinking not to throw this case out? Was this just a case of 9 media-sensitive justices not wanting to be seen to be ruling against the great Rosa Parks? I don't see that the woman has a leg to stand on - her name isn't a copyright, and Outkast were perfectly within their rights to mention it in the context that they did ("everybody move to the back of the bus").