Savage Copyright Suit Dismissed

An important case reported in the San Francisco Chronicle:

A federal judge said Friday she’s inclined to dismiss a lawsuit by conservative radio talk show host Michael Savage against a Muslim rights group that reprinted his attacks against Islam and called for an advertising boycott.

Savage sued the Council on American-Islamic Relations in December after the organization posted excerpts from an Oct. 29 broadcast in which he called the Quran a “hateful little book … a document of slavery” and said, “I don’t want to hear one more word about Islam. Take your religion and shove it.”

His lawsuit accused the group of violating Savage’s copyright by posting more than four minutes of excerpts on its Web site without his permission. He also claimed that the group was engaged in racketeering, saying it poses as a civil rights organization but is actually a “mouthpiece of international terror” that helped to fund the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Savage’s vulgar and tedious anti-Muslim rants have been part of the US scene for several years; Salon profiled him a while ago here. WND has more of the quote highlighted by CAIR:

I’m not gonna put my wife in a hijab. And I’m not gonna put my daughter in a burqa. And I’m not getting’ on my all-fours and braying to Mecca. And you could drop dead if you don’t like it. You can shove it up your pipe.

This is fairly average from the man whom Brigitte Gabriel’s American Congress of Truth describes as “the best in the fight against IslamoNazism” (I blogged on Gabriel, and noted her October visit to London, here. She is particularly popular in Christian Zionist circles).

Savage claims this was taken “out of context”, and he raised money from his listeners to fund the copyright lawsuit. Savage claimed that this was about defending his free speech in the face of CAIR’s call for a boycott, which is a rather strange interpretation of the first amendment. Perhaps realising this (a) looked ridiculous and hypocritical, (b) would be detrimental to “fair use” provisions in American free speech, and (c) very likely to fail anyway, he opportunistically added the racketing charge at a later date. And sure enough, now that the lawsuit has been thrown out, his supporters are whinging about a “victory for terrorism”.

CAIR put forward a useful precedent on the issue:

Thomas Burke, a lawyer for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said at the hearing that the organization was entitled to excerpt Savage’s words for fundraising purposes. He cited a 1986 ruling by the federal appeals court in San Francisco allowing the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s organization to use copyrighted material in a Hustler magazine parody of Falwell to generate contributions.

However, the judge – now on the receiving end of abuse from Savage’s supporters – has allowed the radio host to re-file an amended suit.