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National Barbie-in-a-Blender Day

A few months ago, we wrote about an Illegal Art show that was happening in Philadelphia. One of the featured artists was Tom Forsythe, whose photographs of Barbie in a blender (and in other curious situations) got himself sued by Mattel. It’s a classic case of a corporation bringing a completely groundless suit just to intimidate someone into stopping something they don’t approve of.

When EMI threatened to sue Downhill Battle if we went ahead with Grey Tuesday, it was the same strategy– they wanted to scare us into canceling the protest even though it was clearly protected by free speech and fair use. The threat didn’t work and they saw that we had lawyers who would take up our case pro bono; Grey Tuesday went ahead, and we never heard from them again.

And the major labels have been using the same technique against families in the filesharing cases for a year– those cases are never getting to trial because regular families can’t afford $80,000 to mount a defense. It’s simply a scare tactic. Almost no one is in a position to mount a defense against a corporate lawsuit, and that means that corporations can trample on the First Amendment every day.

Back to our story: Tom Forsythe was itching to fight for his Barbie photos and he convinced the ACLU to take up his case. They fought it and won easily. Not only that, but a few days ago the court ordered that since Mattel’s lawsuit was so clearly groundless, Mattel must pay the $1.8 million in legal fees that it cost to defend Tom’s case. This is a huge victory which reaffirms free speech and fair use.

The FreeCulture.org crew is now celebrating this win with National Barbie-in-a-Blender Day just announced for July 27. And they’re challenging you to make Barbie art that Mattel will be helpless to stop– just because you have a right to.

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