One Year Later: Perez v. You

In the year 3008, when the dust finally settles in the contentious battle between litigious copyright holders and the rest of commie internet humanity, one bold person will stand out above the fray as an emblem for your right to copy and paste anything you damn well please onto your cute blog. Ladies and gentlemen, drop your Lawrence Lessig tomes at the door, because we're here to celebrate the one, the only Perez Hilton.

While you spend the rest of November counting the minutes until Jakulia returns from the Caribbean, a historic moment in the annals of legal history could pass you right by: the one-year anniversary since celeb photo company X17 filed suit against Perez Hilton for copyright infringement. Even if you miss the passing of the historic event four days from now, the judge in the case already began celebrating for you last week by tossing out a counter-suit from Hilton that claimed X17 was running "a paparazzi sweatshop." Too bad for Perez (and too bad for all those tv writers on strike ā€” Paparazzi Sweatshop would make a great miniseries!), the judge ruled that even if this were true, it has absolutely nothing to do with the original copyright lawsuit.

Original copyright lawsuit? Since it was a year ago, and since remembering what Serena van der Woodsen wore on last week's Gossip Girl is hard enough, perhaps a refresher is in order...

On November 30, 2006, X17 filed a $7.5 million copyright infringement suit against Perez Hilton (ak to no one as Mario Lavandeira). Unfazed, Hilton did not deny this; instead, he argued that Photoshopping white lines of cocaine dripping down Beyonce's visage constituted an act of satire. Apparently when Perez took college lit, the prof told him the difference between parody and satire is simple: parody is funny. With this knowledge, and a copy of Pre-Law For Dummies, where he learned that satire is protected by the First Amendment, Mario turned himself into Perez, and the rest is browser history.

When forced to take a stance, most of us (and by "most of us" I mean "people who aren't lawyers or record executives") generally believe in the journalist's right to fair use, in an artist's right to appropriate, in the file-sharers right to engage in reciprocal enjoyment of music. But Perez Hilton forces us to confront the worst possible implications of our beliefs by concocting the stupidest imaginable excuse for what is effectively stealing photos. Perez believes everything is parody, so naturally everything is permissible. Reality, however, is a bugbear to the pink one ā€” he still reportedly contends that his reportage on Castro's death is true.