Judge Deborah A. Batts of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Monday granted Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing a lawsuit filed by musical publisher Bourne Co., the copyright holder of the popular song.
The parody’s first four melody notes are identical to the original score. The defendants first sought a license from Bourne to use the song, but the copyright holder refused.
The Copyright holder claimed “I Need a Jew” was a copy of the popular Disney song. “By pairing Peter’s ‘positive,’ though racist, stereotypes of Jewish people with that fairy tale worldview, ‘I Need a Jew’ comments both on the original work’s fantasy of stardust and magic, as well as Peter’s fantasy of the ‘superiority’ of Jews,” Judge Batts wrote in the opinion. “The song can be ‘reasonably perceived’ to be commenting that any categorical view of a race of people is childish and simplistic, just like wishing upon a star.” “Defendants have established that their song ‘I Need a Jew’ contains several layers of parody of plaintiff’s copyrighted work ‘When You Wish Upon a Star,’” Judge Batts wrote in the opinion.