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Thursday, 25 July, 2002, 02:46 GMT 03:46 UK
Barbie loses battle over bimbo image
Barbie dolls
It's acceptable to poke fun at Barbie, the court ruled
Barbie must accept that being parodied is part of the job, a US judge has ruled after the manufacturer of the famous leggy blonde took legal action against a pop song which mocked her.


The parties are advised to chill

Judge Kozinski
Danish pop act Aqua stormed the charts in 1997 with the song Barbie Girl, in which a female singer portraying Barbie refers to herself as a "blonde bimbo".

She is also enticed to "go party" by a male singer representing Ken, Barbie's steady boyfriend.

Barbie's maker Mattel, in a lawsuit against MCA Records, contended that the song infringed copyright and sullied Barbie's image.

But Judge Alex Kozinski said that the song was protected by the right to free speech in the US constitution because it was a parody and a social commentary.

"With Barbie, Mattel created not just a toy but a cultural icon," he said. "With fame often comes unwanted attention."

He also noted that Barbie had heard much worse since her conception in the 1950s.

Tall, slim - yet curvaceous - Barbie has been the bane of feminists who want society to move away from conceptions of the female figure that do not correspond with reality.

"Barbie has been labelled both the ideal woman and a bimbo," said Judge Kozinski.

Tom Forsythe's photographs
Mattel lost a court case last year over compromising Barbie photos
His court also upheld a lower court decision to throw out a defamation suit brought against Mattel by MCA over comments allegedly made about the record company.

"The parties are advised to chill," said the judge.

However the news still comes as a blow to Mattel, being the second case it has lost over the Barbie mark in less than two years.

In February last year, a court ruled that an American artist was within his rights to use Barbie dolls in his work.

Some of Tom Forsythe's photographs depicted the blonde in sexually compromising positions.

A court had ruled on that occasion too that parody of Barbie was an acceptable activity.

See also:

05 Mar 02 | Middle East
15 Aug 01 | Arts
20 Feb 01 | Entertainment
28 Apr 00 | Education
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