Appellate court doesn’t want to know ‘What What in the Butt’

Hal Libby Contributor
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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has bailed out the popular television show “South Park” once again. The court ended a lawsuit brought against Viacom, the company that runs “South Park” on its subsidiary Comedy Central, over the famous (or infamous) YouTube video “What What (In the Butt).”

In 2008 “South Park” parodied the popular YouTube video, produced by Brownmark Films. In that episode, the show’s character Butters aspired to make a similar video to gain “Internet money.”

In the episode “Canada on Strike,” the viral video is remade by innocent 9-year-old boy Butters, replacing the African-American singer of the original.

Last summer a Wisconsin judge ruled that “South Park” legally adapted the video under “fair use” exceptions to copyright law, and ordered Brownmark Films to pay Viacom’s legal bills.

The judge ruled that “South Park” clearly intended “to lampoon the recent craze in our society of watching video clips on the internet that are — to be kind — of rather low artistic sophistication and quality,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The judge said the show made “transformative” use of the original video in a way only “South Park” could do, by making it even more absurd. 

The appellate court agreed with the district court judge.

One of the judges said, “when the two works in this case are viewed side-by-side, the ‘South Park’ episode is clearly a parody of the original ‘WWITB’ video, providing commentary on the ridiculousness of the original video and viral nature of certain YouTube videos.”

South Park video:

Original video: