In January 2011 the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform posted what it called “the most shocking 4-minute abortion debate you will ever see.”
Northland is a late-term abortion chain of 3 mills in Michigan that aborts babies up to 24 weeks old. CBR merely showed what those abortions look like.
But Northland did not appreciate CBR’s unauthorized use of its video and sued, going so far as to hire high-powered Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett, the largest intellectual property law firm in the United States, to represent its case.
Last Friday Judge James Selna, of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (Santa Ana) dismissed Northland’s lawsuit, ruling in favor of CBR, which was represented by the American Freedom Law Center.
The obvious intent of CBR’s video was parody and critique, which is protected use of copyrighted material under the U.S. Fair Use trademark law.
Judge Selna got that, writing in his opinion:
[CBR] turn[s] the Northland Video’s message “on its head” by alternating clips of the calm, empathetic doctor explaining that choosing to have an abortion does not make you a bad woman, with shockingly graphic images of fetuses being dismembered and removed from the birth canal. For example, in the beginning of the [CBR] Videos, a clip from the Northland Video plays in which the narrator says, “to have an abortion is a normal decision”; then, the screen cuts to a video clip in which it appears that a fetal hand reaches out of the birth canal and gloved fingers – ostensibly those of a doctor – expose more of the hand before using forceps to rip off the appendage. Of course, [CBR’s] abundantly clear message is that deciding to have an abortion is anything but a “normal decision”….
Here is CBR’s video that Northland sued to censor from public view (and YouTube removed). WARNING: Graphic….
In AFLC’s press release Senior Counsel David Yerushalmi observed, “This case is yet another example of abortionists trying to hide the stark reality that they are engaged in the business of killing human life for profit. CBR’s video effectively and metaphorically forces open the door to the abortion clinic and allows the viewer to decide whether they are going to believe what they hear or what they see – with their own eyes. Abortionists can spin the facts, but the camera records the truth.”
AFLC Senior Counsel Robert Muise commented, “This is an important ruling. It sends a clear message to other abortionists and their complicit lawyers that this tactic of trying to silence the pro-life message through vexatious litigation will not work. CBR’s video effectively exposes the lies and deception of the Northland video, and it will continue to do so thanks to this ruling.”