Sony brings hammer down on Wiener’s Katy Perry drag-queen video

"Ben Depoorter, a professor at UC Hastings College of the Law who is an expert in copyright law, says this is typical of entertainment companies that worry about alienating potential buyers by having their performers associated with politics. Exhibit A is the country group the Dixie Chicks, who criticized then-President George W. Bush on stage in 2003 and faced a backlash that nearly ended their careers.

Borrowing Perry’s song makes it look like “a political endorsement, and a lot of music companies are worried about that,” Depoorter said. “When it comes to politics, record labels like to have their artists be Switzerland.”

Depoorter said Wiener has some options. He noted that some politicians — Donald Trump comes to mind — play music at their rallies even though the artists and their record companies object, and the pols have every right to do so as long as the venue has a public performance license.

 

However, Depoorter said, “syncing to video is a whole different ballgame.” To do that, he said, you have to ask permission — “that’s a very clear copyright rule.”

Another option for Wiener, said the law professor, is to claim the right of “fair use.” That lets someone use copyrighted material without permission, but only within certain legal guidelines.

Wiener would have to take the issue to court, however, so “a final decision would certainly be years away,” Depoorter said."