Seuss com­pany loses court fight to block Grinch par­ody

Sunday Star-Times - - WORLD -

A New York play­wright has con­vinced a US fed­eral judge that his new play is a par­ody of Dr Seuss’s clas­sic How the Grinch Stole Christ­mas!, and that in this le­gal fight, he was in the right.

US Dis­trict Judge Alvin Heller­stein in Man­hat­tan yes­ter­day ruled that Matthew Lom­bardo’s Who’s Hol­i­day! trans­formed the ‘‘utopic’’ and ‘‘cheery’’ de­pic­tions in Grinch so com­pletely that it qual­i­fied as a par­ody and ‘‘fair use’’.

Heller­stein re­jected ar­gu­ments by Dr Seuss En­ter­prises LP that Lom­bardo’s play in­fringed its copy­rights to the late au­thor’s work.

Who’s Hol­i­day! was sched­uled to open off Broad­way last Novem­ber be­fore its run was can­celled. Lom­bardo’s lawyer Jordan Green­berger said his client in­tended for another pro­duc­tion to be­gin run­ning as soon as Novem­ber.

Lawyers for Dr Seuss En­ter­prises did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

Grinch is about a grouchy, caved­welling mon­ster who de­cides to end Christ­mas, but has a change of heart af­ter be­ing in­ter­rupted by a lit­tle girl, Cindy Lou.

The Cindy Lou in Who’s Hol­i­day! is less en­dear­ing. She is a pro­fane 45-year-old woman strug­gling with al­co­hol and sub­stance abuse, and she spent time in prison for mur­der­ing the Grinch, who was once her hus­band and fa­thered her daugh­ter.

Dr Seuss En­ter­prises ac­cused Lom­bardo of ex­ploit­ing the char­ac­ters and themes of Grinch be­cause he was too lazy to try ‘‘work­ing up some­thing fresh’’.

But the judge said Lom­bardo turned the sac­cha­rine de­pic­tions of Who-Ville into an ob­ject of ridicule, where green beasts im­preg­nate women, pa­parazzi ‘‘run ra­bid’’, and cit­i­zens get high on ‘‘Who Hash’’ to avoid life’s daily has­sles.

MGM

A judge has ruled that a play spoof­ing How the Grinch Stole Christ­mas! does not breach copy­right.

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