Savage v. Council on American-Islamic Relations, Inc. et al.

Order Granting Defendants' Motion For Judgment On the Pleadings


On 7-25-08, a U.S. District Court granted the motion for judgment on the pleadings we and our co-counsel Tom Burke of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP filed in a copyright infringement suit brought by talk show host Michael Savage against the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Savage had sued CAIR back in December 2007, alleging that CAIR infringed the copyright in his show when it posted on its web site brief excerpts from Savage's radio program in order to criticize Savage's remarks. Savage also added a federal racketeering claim stemming from that alleged copyright infringement.

Judge Susan Illston recognized that CAIR's use of four minutes from one of Savage's two hour radio programs to criticize Savage is protected under the fair use doctrine. The Copyright Act specifically makes clear that third parties may utilize copyrighted works for purposes of commentary or criticism, as CAIR did in this case. For purposes of the motion, the Court assumed all the allegations in the complaint were true, and still found that CAIR's use of the excerpts was protected. As the Court noted:

The complaint affirmatively asserts that the purpose and character of [CAIR's] use of the limited excerpts from the radio show was to criticize publicly the anti-Muslim message of those excerpts. To comment on [Savage's] statements without reference or citation to them would not only render [CAIR's] criticism less reliable, but be unfair to [Savage]. Further, it was not unreasonable for [CAIR] to provide the actual audio excerpts, since they reaffirmed the authenticity of the criticized statements and provided the audience with the tone and manner in which [Savage] made the statements.

Savage was also unable to show any copyright damages from the criticism.

This is the court order granting the motion for judgment on the pleadings.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

Reference Info:Decision | Federal, 9th Circuit, California | United States

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Electronic Frontier Foundation | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Electronic Frontier Foundation on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.