'Pink Panther' idea theft or lame YouTube video....or both?

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'Pink Panther' idea theft or lame YouTube video....or both?

Tue Feb 10, 2009 @ 07:14PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Pink_panther_one Which came first — the hysterical chicken or the hatched joke?

It's a question that may never be fully answered, but in our YouTube age, any Joe Schmo who posts a video with a few tired jokes is liable to have his feelings hurt when a big-budget studio film follows with the same recycled material.

Making fun of foreigners who can't pronounce English words or laughing at politicians who ineptly fight the war on terrorism is older than 9/11. Still, that's not stopping video auteurs Jean Epstein and Gary Stretch from claiming these jokes as their own in this new complaint filed against MGM, Sony, Fox, producer Robert Simonds, star Steve Martin and others involved in the remake of "The Pink Panther" and its sequel.

The plaintiffs claim copyright infringement based on an eleven-and-a-half minute short titled "An Evening With The President" that included a scene where a supposed Afghani terrorist trains himself to utter the words "How about a hamburger" and a scene where the President focuses on a female journalist at a new conference. 

Concidence, or was Steve Martin one of the more than 1,000 viewers to see the short when it was posted on iFilm and YouTube? Or maybe someone at CAA or William Morris, where the short was sent, alerted MGM to the hilarity?

A court will determine the answers. In the meantime, we're going to post a hysterical video about a chicken crossing the road.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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