When Stuart Frankel, a New York computer repair technician, created a parody of the famous purple dinosaur Barney on his Web site, he thought it was all fun and games. However, the company behind iconic kids' character, Lyons Partnership, was less than amused.
After Lyons sent Frankel several cease-and-desist letters asking him to shut down his site and accusing him of violating copyright and trademark laws, Frankel turned to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for help. The EFF filed suit against Lyons, claiming that Frankel's parody was a noninfringing fair use protected by the First Amendment.
"Barney's lawyers are sending out intimidating lawyer letters to parody Web sites that are clearly protected by the First Amendment and fair use," said EFF senior staff attorney Fred von Lohmann in a statement. "It's time for Barney to call off his lawyer armies and get back to entertaining children."
The parties reached a settlement Nov. 21. According to the EFF, Lyons agreed to drop its legal threats against Frankel and to compensate him for fees he spent defending himself.