Who’s List is it Anyway?
We learned about copyright laws in several videos made during class. We learned about the exceptions to copyright; such as for critical review or parody. Recently, Jimmy Fallon parodied David Letterman’s signature Top Ten List, complete with graphics and font that are almost identical to Letterman’s. (Spoiler Alert) He even ends it with “Jimmy Fallon is stealing his bits.” This parody has become a hit. Fallon showed us why copyright exceptions need to be made for parodies; it provides for some great entertainment.
The exception to copyrights for parodies has provided us with some great entertainment. In an earlier post, I mentioned a parody of Gangnam Style featuring Bill Nye the Science Guy. The copyright exception has allowed Weird Al to make a living. It allowed for the video A Fair(y) Use Tale, which we used in class. And it allowed Jimmy Fallon to make a hilarious knock-off of Letterman’s Top Ten List.
As many of us have already heard, Letterman will be retiring as host of his long-running late night TV show, The Late Show with David Letterman, whose name gave rise to The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn (now with Craig Ferguson). Fallon paid tribute to the shows signature sketch, the Top Ten List. Fallon presented the top ten reasons David Letterman is retiring. His presentation wasn’t just a top ten list. He stole every aspect of Letterman’s Top Ten List. He read off of the same blue cards Letterman does (albeit with the Tonight Show logo), used a similar introduction, and used an identical font and background to what Letterman uses. This identical copy of Letterman’s list made Fallon’s sketch a bigger hit; anything else would have been seen as a cheap knock-off, a half-assed try. But Fallon played the letter of the law perfectly and has given us some wonderful comedy heading into the weekend.
One last note: David Letterman’s list is officially named The Late Show Top Ten List. Why? It was simply called the Top Ten List while Letterman was on Late Night with David Letterman on NBC, but when he moved to CBS, NBC claimed they owned the rights to the Top Ten List. So Letterman changed the name and made the sketch his.