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Scarlett Johansson in a KKK Hood? Doctored Ad Looks Like Lawsuit Bait

An anti-abortion group has taken a video Scarlett Johansson made to support Planned Parenthood and edited it so that she delivers her speech dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe. The point of the parody is to draw attention to Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger's old-fashioned views about birth control and eugenics, but the more interesting question is whether Planned Parenthood will sue the Christian Defense Coalition for copyright law violations because it borrowed the entirety of the Planned Parenthood video to make its point. Here's the video:

Subtle! If you want to know if Sanger was really a supporter of the KKK you can listen to her own account here and read a footnoted rebuttal of the notion that she was a racist here.

As a piece of advertising, however, the video rains on its own parade by finishing with what sounds like a legal disclaimer:

We want to stress that this video is political satire and we do not believe that Scarlett Johansson is a KKK member.
It's almost as if the CDC knows it's being unfair to Johansson and Planned Parenthood, and from a legal point of view it may well be. Parody is generally protected speech under the "fair use" exception to copyright laws as long as you only use a small part of the original work in your satire. Using someone else's work in its entirety -- the soundtrack and Johansson's image are uncut and unaltered in the CDC version -- is generally not protected.

So, congratulations CDC, you have successfully produced a video that's inflammatory enough to go viral. Whether you'll survive Planned Parenthood's lawyers is another question.


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