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The protector of parody

Legal scholars probably won't spend much time dissecting Monday's Supreme Court decision involving 2 Live Crew, unless they are enchanted by the nuances of copyright law.

Lovers of parody, however, should take notice. There's a new player on the field.

Supreme Court Justice David Souter wrote the opinion for the court in deciding that the 2 Live Crew song Pretty Woman was not a blatant rip-off the Roy Orbison classic, Oh, Pretty Woman, but a parody worthy of protection under copyright laws. Souter wrote:

"2 Live Crew juxtaposes the romantic musings of a man whose fantasy comes true, with degrading taunts, a bawdy demand for sex, and a sigh of relief from paternal responsibility. The later words can be taken as a comment on the naivete of the original of an earlier day, as a rejection of its sentiment that ignores the ugliness of street life and the debasement that it signifies. It is this joinder of reference and ridicule that marks off the author's choice of parody . . ."

All of which makes one wonder: Is Souter serious? Or is he, in fact, indulging in a bit of parody himself, lampooning two of America's most self-serious groups, the Supreme Court and rock critics? One can only hope.

When it comes to rock criticism, the Rolling Stones said it best: "It's only rock 'n' roll but I like it . . ."


Rick Dantzler, D-Winter Haven, is chairman of the state Senate Natural Resources Committee and in charge of an Everglades protection bill that has been criticized as being too lenient to sugar farmers. An editorial in Monday's editions misidentified the chairman.