Savage v. Council on American-Islamic Relations

NOTE: The information and commentary contained in this database entry are based on court filings and other informational sources that may contain unproven allegations made by the parties. The truthfulness and accuracy of such information is likely to be in dispute. Information contained in this entry is current as of the last event mentioned in the "Description" section below; additional proceedings might have taken place in this matter since this event.

Summary

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Date: 

12/03/2007

Status: 

Pending

Location: 

California

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

N/A
Conservative talk show host Michael Savage sued the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in federal district court in California on December 3, 2007 for copyright infringement. He claims that CAIR violated his copyrights in the October 29, 2007 program of the "Michael... read full description
Parties

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Council on American-Islamic Relations; Does 1-100

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Organization

Location of Party: 

  • California

Location of Party: 

  • District of Columbia

Legal Counsel: 

Thomas R. Burke - Davis Wright Tremaine LLP; Matt Zimmerman - EFF
Description

Conservative talk show host Michael Savage sued the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in federal district court in California on December 3, 2007 for copyright infringement. He claims that CAIR violated his copyrights in the October 29, 2007 program of the "Michael Savage Show" by excerpting a four-plus minute portion of the show and posting it on CAIR's website. The excerpt was (and remains) attached as an audio file to an article on the website, entitled "National Radio Host Goes On Anti-Muslim Tirade." The article criticizes Savage's comments on the show and calls on "radio listeners of all faiths to contact companies that advertise on Michael Savage's nationally-syndicated radio program to express their concerns about the host's recent anti-Muslim tirade."

The complaint made a number of claims that don't have any immediate relevance to Savage's copyright claim, including that CAIR is a political organization, rather than a charitable or civil rights organization; that CAIR has ties to organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah; and that CAIR used the excerpt from Savage's show out of context, thereby distorting his message and squelching his freedom of speech. The complaint also named 100 anonymous defendants, but it did not make clear what role these defendants had in the alleged copyright infringement.

In his amended complaint and then second amended complaint, Savage also raised a claim under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, relating to CAIR's alleged connections to radical Islamic terrorism.

On January 30, 2008, CAIR filed its answer and moved for judgment on the pleadings, asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit because it was "simply a camouflaged defamation or disparagement claim dressed as bogus copyright and RICO claims...Savage's legal broadside specifically targets CAIR as a civil rights organization and its core political speech responding to and criticizing Savage's inflammatory political rhetoric." (from EFF).

Update:

7/25/08 - The court dismissed the copyright and RICO claims, giving Savage permission to amend the RICO portion of his complaint, but not the copyright portion. 

Details

Content Type: 

  • Text

Publication Medium: 

Website

Subject Area: 

  • Copyright
  • Fair Use
Court Information & Documents
CMLP Information (Private)

CMLP Notes: 

to-do: monitor Justia or PACER for status

Status checked on 6/9/2008, no new information.  (AAB)