It hasn’t been a laugh-filled autumn for the people at South Park. First they had to issue a public apology after plagiarizing a portion of a College Humor parody of the movie Inception. Now they are facing legal action from the makers of the so-awful-you-send-it-to-your-friends YouTube music video “What What (In the Butt),” alleging copyright infringement.
In 2008, South Park got permission from the song’s writer, Samwell, to use it in an episode that featured a character recreating the incredibly cheesy and inexplicably popular video.
However, the makers of the video Brownmark (yes, Brownmark) Films tell AVClub.com that neither South Park nor Comedy Central asked for rights to reference the video and claim that the show’s recreation of the clip goes beyond parody:
We don’t think it’s a clear-cut case of parody at all. Parody and satire are very different in the eyes of the law… Our video is intentionally humorous. It works by juxtaposing a sexually charged song with cartoony, ironically innocent visuals. The South Park version basically repeats our joke. Their version doesn’t ‘make fun’ of ours, it just ‘does it again,’ and that’s not parody.
As for allegations that Brownmark is trying to capitalize on the much-publicized South Park/College Humor incident, they say it just isn’t so:
Neither one of us had heard about the South Park Inception video plagiarism fiasco until [Tuesday], so that had nothing to do with our deciding to file now. We’re not money-hungry assholes, and we’re definitely not riding on the coat-tails of the Inception plagiarism news.
In the interest of science, here are the two clips for you to review before making your judgment: