Congratulations, 'The Simpsons', for 20 lawsuit-free years
12:07 PM PDT 5/19/2009 by Eriq Gardner
Ay caramba! We have to admit we're a sucker for any article that explores the legal side of any TV show. We're still waiting for a copy of the Spring 2009 edition of the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, which featured an article entitled, "Respect My Authority! South Park’s Expression of Legal Ideology and Contribution to Legal Culture." But in the meantime we've had fun with this article in Mental Floss magazine about controversies over The Simpsons that didn't end up in a lawsuit.
Dr. Karma Waltonen, a professor at the University of California, Davis and author of an upcoming Simpsons book, discusses the long-running sitcom's propensity to insult cities, countries, Fox News, the Catholic church, former presidents, and anybody who doesn't want to see nudity on prime time television. It's a wonder the show has managed to avoid defamation claims or intervention by the FCC.
We think Dr. Waltonen forgot a couple of other litigation near-misses. On a couple of occasions, creator Matt Groening and company have come very close to filing their own claims in court. In 2007, a widely viewed parody of the show featuring OJ Simpson raised the hackles of show producers. And earlier this year, the Church of Scientology caused some ruckus after hiring Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, to make a recorded telephone pitch, possibly in violation of copyright or Cartwright's contract. No lawsuits were filed.
The Simpsons has been on TV for 20 years, an achievement we wish to celebrate at THR, Esq. for its amazing run of avoiding the courtroom. Unless, of course, we're missing cases here.
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