Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sillier and sillier

A Winnipeg, Manitoba folk band (if you define 'band' as one person plus whoever happens to be hanging around at the time) is continuing with their lawsuit against the movie makers at Warner Brothers (home of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck). Kim Baryluk, who is the singer-songwriter of the Wyrd Sisters, figures that the unnamed band in the movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which was originally called the Weird Sisters in the book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, is totally messing with her ownership of the name, and that people will think that she stole the name from the book and movie. She has already lost the suit once, with the court ordering her to pay $140,000 to Warner Brothers for their legal costs.

Never say die though and Ms Baryluk has again filed suit seeking the destruction of DVDs, CDs, video games, and anything else connected with the movie that may contain the name Weird Sisters. She also wants 40-million dollars (well, who doesn't?). Her lawyer is also going after two judges and two Warner Brothers lawyers in Ontario claiming improper conduct, so he'll be busy for the next while. On the other hand, Warner Brothers has filed suit in Winnipeg saying that Ms Baryluk has not paid the 140,000 that she was ordered to pay. So it's all quite a pickle when you look at it.

Here's the thing though, Ms Baryluk's lawyer said that the original claim centered on which musical act had the right to use the name. So okay, on one hand we have the Wyrd Sisters out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. On the other hand we have fictional characters in a book (and unnamed characters in a movie) who are not actually a musical act. Also, the band, Three Weird Sisters, out of Atlanta, Georgia, US of A, was also contacted regarding the use of the name in the movie and they thought it would have been cool. Of course that all fell apart when the Winnipegers didn't go for it (in other words, the band was contacted and when they complained the name was dropped from the movie - weirder and weirder).

I think that Ms Baryluk and her lawyer should drop the suits, apologize to Warner Brothers (man, that hurt to type), and just get back to creating music. I've listened to the Wyrd Sisters on Myspace (http://www.myspace.com/thewyrds) and it's not bad. I prefer a harsher sound to my music but I can appreciate quality when I hear it, except for jazz. I don't know anything about jazz.

Anyway... Humouroceros

PS: Way back the Marx Brothers were set to release a movie called A Night In Casablanca. Warner Brothers sent them a letter saying that if they didn't change the name (because of the Warner Brothers movie Casablanca) there would be no other option than for Warner Brothers to sue the Marx Brothers for copyright infringement. This caused Groucho Marx (one of the many Marx brothers) to gird his loins and fire off a letter to the Warner Brothers legal department:

Apparently there is more than one way of conquering a city and holding it as your own. For example, up to the time that we contemplated making a picture, I had no idea that the city of Casablanca belonged to the Warner Brothers.

However, it was only a few days after our announcement appeared that we received a long, ominous legal document warning us not to use the name "Casablanca."

It seems that in 1471, Ferdinand Balboa Warner, the great-great grandfather of Harry and Jack, while looking for a shortcut to the city of Burbank, had stumbled on the shores of Africa and, raising his alpenstock, which he later turned in for a hundred shares of the common, he named it Casablanca.

I just can't understand your attitude. Even if they plan on re-releasing the picture, I am sure that the average movie fan could learn to distinguish between Ingrid Bergman and Harpo. I don't know whether I could, but I certainly would like to try.

You claim you own Casablanca and that no one else can use that name without your permission. What about Warner Brothers -- do you own that, too? You probably have the right to use the name Warner, but what about Brothers. Professionally, we were brothers long before you were.

Even before us, there had been other brothers -- the Smith Brothers, the Brothers Karamazov; Dan Brouthers, an outfielder with Detroit, and "Brother, can you spare a dime?" This was originally "Brothers, can you spare a dime," but this was spreading a dime pretty thin,

The younger Warner Brother calls himself Jack. Does he claim that, too? It's not an original name -- it was used long before he was born, Offhand, I can think of two Jacks -- there was Jack of "Jack and the Beanstalk" and Jack the Ripper, who cut quite a figure in his day.

As for Harry, offhand I can think of two Harrys that preceded him. There was Lighthorse Harry of revolutionary fame and a Harry Appelbaum, who lived on the corner of 93rd Street and Lexington Avenue.

This all seems to add up to a pretty bitter tirade but I don't mean to. I love Warners -- some of my best friends are Warner Brothers. I have a hunch that this attempt to prevent us from using the title is the scheme of some ferret-faced shyster serving an apprenticeship in their legal department. I know the type -- hot out of law school, hungry for success and too ambitious to follow the natural laws of promotion, this bar sinister probably needled Warner's attorneys, most of whom are fine fellows with curly black hair, double-breasted suits etc. in attempting to enjoin us.

Well, he won't get away with it! We'll fight him to the highest court! No pasty-faced legal adventurer is going to cause bad blood between the Warners and the Marxes. We are all brothers under the skin and we'll remain friends till the last reel of "A Night in Casablanca" goes tumbling over the spool.

Groucho won that argument, and rightfully so.

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