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It's Seuss-and-desist at Lou-ville Who-ville

By Gene Policinski
First Amendment Center vice president/executive director

Comment? E-mail me

Every Who
Down in Who-ville
Liked Christmas a lot ...

Just like Who-ever in Lou-is-ville
Set up a Dr. Seuss holiday spot,
A “village” meant for children,
Conveniently located, on a municipal plot.

But some folks,
Down in San Diego,
Who themselves may well like Christmas a lot.
But as to unlicensed Dr. Seuss Uses,
Definitely do NOT!

Who wouldn’t feel a smidge of shock and surprises
At finding out there is a thing called Dr. Seuss Enterprises!
That would send city fathers a formal note and insist
That their display come down Now, that they Cease-and-Desist.

We don’t have to ask why. We all know the reason.
It’s the world come a-calling, not the Holiday Season.

It’s Not that their heads aren’t screwed on quite right.
And most Certainly Not that their shoes are too tight.
Perhaps Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson’s thoughts are most creative of all,
He said last week that “It appears these lawyers’ hearts are two sizes too small.”

Still, there’s no question that Dr. Seuss and his heirs
Have a right — under copyright law — to control and charge for what’s theirs.
After all, the Grinch and Who-ville were ideas in Theodor Geisel’s wise head.
But one has to wonder why permission, not omission,
Couldn’t, in this case, have resulted instead?

Thankfully, parody and “fair use” still are good theories in law,
Supported in opinions by smart-thinking Judges and Justices who saw
That from songs that make silly to the novel Wind Done Gone,
We all occasionally need to skewer, poke, laugh and have fun.

I suspect that even without Cindy Lou Who
And a green, grinning Grinch in a Lou-ville home,
Christmas still will come there, just like in that Seuss poem.
Where the Grinch comes to see that “The tall and the small,
Were singing! Without any presents at all!”

Perhaps it’s too much to ask for an exception,
To argue for an “OK” without legal intervention.
The law says protect your ideas or you give them away,
And that would mean chaos … or at least no more pay.

Still, it would be nice to think that at least just once more,
"Maybe Christmas ... perhaps ... means a little bit more!"

Comment? E-mail me


Settlement reached over Wind Done Gone

Alice Randall's publisher to make unspecified contribution to Morehouse College; lawyers for Margaret Mitchell's estate agree to stop trying to block sales of book. 05.10.02

Seuss and desist: Louisville drops Who-ville Christmas display

At behest of Dr. Seuss lawyers, city scraps plans to use Grinch themes, characters as part of holiday celebration. 11.26.08

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