By Aidan Murray
Would you like to see my New York play? It’s a parody, won’t you stay?
I do not like your play, not one bit! It’s just not right, it doesn’t fit. It’s not fair use, you make me ill. I will take you to court and stop you I will!
Fair use, fair use it’s funny my friend.
Not a bit! Not a bit! This play must end!
Fair use, Fair use, poking fun is the game!
There is no fun when everything is the same! There is a Grinch, there are Whos, there is Cindy-Lou, Christmas, and even Roast Beast!
This is not true! Fair use, fair use, it’s funny at least. Whoville is turned upside down. The Whos-not the Grinch-now wear the bitter frown.
It’s not funny, it’s sad. Find a new idea, this is just plain bad!
Not so fast! Says the Judge. Lombardo is not wrong!
Fair use it is! The play must go on!
On September 15, in Lombardo et al v. Dr. Seuss Enterprises L.P, a federal judge in the Southern District of New York ruled that Matthew Lombardo’s off-Broadway play, “Who’s Holiday” was a protected parody of Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” No. 16-9974 (S.D.N.Y. 2017). Beginning in July 2016, Lombardo was sent numerous cease-and-desist letters from Dr. Seuss Enterprises. In December 2016, Lombardo requested a declaratory judgment finding that his play did not infringe the author’s intellectual property rights. Lombardo also filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings maintaining that his play was a parody and therefore a fair use of the copyrighted material.
Although Lombardo borrows Dr. Seuss’s characters and rhyming style, he injects the children’s classic with an incredibly mature and bizarre plot. “Who’s Holiday” tells the tale of a middle-aged Cindy-Lou who has spent time in jail for murdering her husband, the Grinch. Cindy-Lou is struggling with substance abuse and is living out of a trailer. The Grinch, strangely, is the father of her child. The citizens of Whoville have turned to “Who Hash” to take their minds away from the monotony of everyday life. Although Dr. Seuss Enterprises accused Lombardo of exploiting the late author’s works, the judge declared that the adult themes and the ridiculous nature of “Who’s Holiday” were transformative enough to constitute parody. However, the judge did not comment as to whether Lombardo’s work was in “good taste.”
Lombardo plans to resume production of “Who’s Holiday” in November.