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News Briefs, part 1

Court Rules Parody Can Be Exempt From Copyright Law

The Washington Post

The Supreme Court, ruling on a rap version of the rock classic "Oh, Pretty Woman," Monday enhanced the ability of writers of parodies to exploit original songs.

For the first time, the justices clearly stated that parody can be exempted from copyright law.

The unanimous ruling helps the rap group 2 Live Crew defend a copyright infringement claim and benefits Mark Russell, the Capitol Steps and other groups that make their living by setting their political criticism to well-known melodies.

Numerous such parodists, including the Harvard Lampoon and Mad Magazine, had joined with the American Civil Liberties Union and several television networks to submit "friend of the court" briefs urging the justices to side with 2 Live Crew against Acuff-Rose Music. Acuff-Rose holds the copyright to the late Roy Orbison's "Oh, Pretty Woman."

"This is a great ruling," said William C. Lane, lawyer for the Capitol Steps. The court rejected the argument that commercial parodists should have to seek permission from copyright holders to use their songs. "It's hard to get permission because nobody likes to be made fun of," he said. By definition, a parody imitates an original work for comic effect or ridicule.

Militant U.S. Jews May Not Be Welcome in Israel

The Washington Post

From its office tucked among yeshivas and apartment buildings in a heavily Orthodox stretch of Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, Kahane Chai calls on every Jew to emigrate to Israel.

"I don't believe the Jews in America will be able to live here forever," Kahane Chai leader Mike Guzofsky said, asserting that Jews "have been kicked out of 56 lands, lands they've been quite comfortable in and quite prosperous in. I believe that America, God forbid, will soon become that 57th land."

But Israel may close its doors to members of the movement that spawned Baruch Goldstein.

Immigration Absorption Minister Yair Tsaban recommended last week that American Jews active in Kahane Chai, Kach and the Jewish Defense League be barred from entry.

Pentagon Bans Smoking In the Workplace

The Washington Post

Pentagon officials said Monday that smoking will no longer be permitted in the military workplace, a move described by anti-smoking activists as the most comprehensive ban ever imposed by a federal agency or business.

Other federal agencies and businesses have taken similar stands, but none with such far-reaching effects. Pentagon officials said Monday the smoking ban will affect 2.6 million uniformed and civilian personnel in hundreds of installations worldwide.

Under the new policy, smoking will be totally banned inside all Defense Department offices and anywhere else that meets the definition of a workplace, whether it is the inside of a tank, airplane or helicopter, officials said. Smoking will still be permitted, however, in designated areas of military barracks, family housing, clubs, recreational areas, restaurants and prison quarters.

The Pentagon had already been moving toward tougher rules on smoking. In 1986, the department placed some restrictions on smoking, though smokers could still light up in private offices, designated restrooms and hallways and in smoking areas of restaurants. The services have followed suit, with the Navy last fall instituting a virtual ban on smoking below the decks of Navy ships.