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Thursday, 20 September, 2001, 07:17 GMT 08:17 UK
The Sopranos given 'right to sing'
Cast of The Sopranos
The award-winning show has a huge following
A US judge has thrown out a claim that the TV show The Sopranos defames Italian-Americans.

The Chicago-based American Italian Defense Association (AIDA) had brought the action because it said that the show, about Italian-American gangsters in the US, insulted the dignity of the community.

But Cook County Judge Richard Siebel ruled that the association had no basis on which to sue the programme, as it had suffered no injury.

The Sopranos
It was claimed the show depicts Italian-Americans in a negative way
He also ruled that the HBO-made show had a constitutional right to air its depiction of a fictional New Jersey family of Mafia members.

In a reference to the plaintiff's acronym AIDA, the judge wrote in his 11-page ruling: "The aria may be offensive to Verdi, but The Sopranos have the constitutional right to sing."

Financial damages

Lawyers for Time Warner Entertainment, which owns the TV channel HBO, had been arguing for a dismissal of the case.

The company said that if the show were condemned in court they would be open to suits seeking financial damages.

The Sopranos
The show stars the award-winning Gandolfini
Time Warner lawyers also argued that an adverse decision could lead to the censorship of other fictional works.

Lawyers for AIDA said they had not sought damages from Time Warner Entertainment but wanted a declaration from the judge that the popular show violated a "dignity clause" in the Illinois constitution.

The clause is designed to protect individuals from communications that incite hostility based on their religion, race or other affiliation.

The series has 22 nominations for this year's Emmys - postponed because of the US attacks last week - and will hope to add to the solitary Emmy it won last year.

See also:

06 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
Sopranos sued by Italian group
29 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Judge hears case against Sopranos
29 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Sopranos hit back at 'racist' claim
03 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Sopranos in campus row
13 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Legal shows scoop top Emmys
24 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Crowds mob Sopranos auditions
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