Tort Or Crime

200 words or more Discussion two:

In Chapter 1 of the text you read about the Bailey v. Eminem defamation case where the court held Eminem’s lyrics were protected by the First Amendment. Read the article and view the video (the links are listed under Week 1 Additional Learning Resources Required and Week 1 Multimedia Required) to the Pahler v. Slayer case. Respond to the following questions:

1.    Did the Pahler court use the same reasoning as used in Bailey v. Eminem?
2.    Should the court’s decision in Pahler be different because a young girl was murdered?
3.    Recall the difference between a crime and a tort. Based on these two cases, analyze and discuss whether artists should be held liable for the actions of their fans.

In the Media:Eminem’s Lyrics—Free Speech or Defamation?

In 2009,Eminem received the “Best HipHop Video” award at the MTV VideoMusic Awards. The rapper is known forhis strong lyrical style.

Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

Marshall Mathers, better known as the rapperEminem, is the best-selling hip hop artist of alltime. He has sold over 85 million albums, all with the parental advisory warning stamped on thefront. Drawing inspiration from his own, evidently difficult upbringing,Eminem has rapped abouthis mother, his ex-wife, a former schoolmate, and even his fans, in his notoriously abrasivestyle. As a result, he has been involved in numerous lawsuits for defamation.

Classmate DeAngeloBailey suedEminem in 2002, alleging that he was the subject for the song”Brain Damage” fromEminem’s 1999 debut album, The Slim Shady LP. “Brain Damage” is abouta childhood bully who is physically violent with little Marshall, and it includes the following lines:”I was harassed daily by this fat kid named DeAngeloBailey. [. . .] [E]very day he’d shove me inthe lockers. One day he came in the bathroom [. . .] and beat me into submission.” AlthoughBailey was working in sanitation when he filed the million-dollar suit,Bailey claimed thatEminem’s lyrical disparagement cost him a career in music. In 2003, the lawsuit was dismissedin a 14-page ruling, but not without Michigan trial judge Deborah A. Servitto finding her ownlyrical voice. In footnote 11 of the order of dismissal, Judge Servitto wrote the following gem:”To convey the Court’s opinion to the fans of rap, the Court’s research staff has helped theCourt put the decision into a universally understandable format:

Mr.Bailey complains that his rep is trash.
So he’s seeking compensation in the form of cash.
Bailey thinks he’s entitled to some monetary gain
BecauseEminem used his name in vain.

Eminem saysBailey used to throw him around
Beat him up in the john, shoved his face in the ground.
Eminem contends that his rap is protected
By the rights guaranteed by the first amendment.

Eminem maintains that his story is true
And thatBailey beat him black and blue.
In the alternative he states that his story is phony
And a reasonable person would think it’s baloney.

The Court must always balance the rights
Of a defendant and one placed in a false light.
If the plaintiff presents no question of fact
To dismiss is the only acceptable act.”

The First Amendment’s protection of the freedom of speech includes certain speech or communication that might seem to be hurtful,particularly when what is being expressed are opinions or, in this case, opinions as lyrics to a copyrighted song. Of course, asserting as factsomething that is objectively false would not be protected by the Constitution and would be defamation.


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