Calypso Joe also known as Gen. Hershy Bar and Gen. Waste Moreland has come out second best again in a legal skirmish.
The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed a Los Angeles federal court ruling dismissing the entertainer's copyright infringement suit against Tom Dunphy, Cinema V. Ltd., Mick Jagger, the Rolling Stones and others.
In the mid 1960s, the court said, Calypso Joe became a "visible hero of the antiwar movement," making public appearances as Gen. Hershy Bar, a role he created for himself. He wore a quasi-military uniform adorned with decorations “far more elaborate than those worn by the most fanciful generalissimo." Later Dunphy became associated with Calypso as his "apprentice."
"Calypso now claims that Dunphy was in reality a CIA domestic spy when they began making joint appearances," the court said. "Dunphy has his own splendid uniform and appeared under the name Gen. Waste Moreland. There was no significant distinction in appearance or espoused slogans of the two generals."
Calypso had produced and published a copyrighted comic book entitled "Those Lovable Peacenuts," featuring the two generals with a picture of Calypso and Dunphy on the back.
The alleged copyright infringement stemmed from a Dec. 5, 1969, rock festival at Altamont, where Dunphy, in full dress uniform, was in a crowd of 300,000 while the movie "Gimmie Shelter" was being produced.
Part of the film was shot at the festival and Calypso claims his rights were violated by including two zoom-in shots of Dunphy, each lasting five seconds.
The court said that in general characters are not in themselves the subject of valid copyrights and that conventional types or stock figures are not the subject of copyrights. "Certainly no one would contend that Gilbert and Sull1an's admiral, polishing up the handle on the big front door, or Generals Hershy Bar and Waste Moreland, who were spitting images of modern generals, would be anything other than stock figures," said the court.
It noted cartoon characters in certain circumstances are copyrightable and cited a case in which a Mickey Mouse likeness was pirated with his character and type of plot changed "so that the old-time matinee crowd would have thought Mickey was leading a double life."
Calypso's comic hook characters did not develop a high degree of recognition, according to the court.
"You might say the generals were pawns, or perhaps knights, brought into existence to give voice to the clever slogans of Calypso." the decision said. "They had no identity of their own. If a character is only a chessman in the telling of a story, he is not within the area of protection afforded by copyright."
"Calypso's much decorated characters espousing antiwar slogans are no more entitled to copyright protection than would be a toga-clad Roman senator quoting Martial’s epigrams, Judges Ben Dunway, John Kilkenny and Herbert Chov said in an opinion Friday.
General Waste-More-Land acquitted
Los Angeles Free Press, February 6, 1970
General Waste-More-Land was cut loose from charges of wearing a military uniform illegally and blocking a sidewalk Jan. 20 and 21 "in the interests of justice," according to General Hershey Bar.
Judge Gerald O'Hara of San Francisco Municipal Court ruled that military uniforms were under Federal jurisdiction and local authorities couldn't use this excuse to hassle the anti-war General.
Judge Harry Low decided the following day that one man - not even a man o General Waste-More-Land's stature - couldn't possibly block a sidewalk single handedly. General Curtis Dismay noted that young men everywhere should take advantage of this tremendous victory and wear their uniforms for peace.
"We're going to demand equal time," the Commander of LA's peaceful forces announced. "General Waste-More-Land was campaigning for peace. We demand that they arrest someone in uniform who is campaigning for war."
General Waste-More-Land is perhaps best known for his often quoted statement: "Giving medal for killing people is stupid. Give your girlfriend a medal every time you make love, and have her give you one."
The General reported that the FBI had returned his uniform to him, but that they had treated it disrespectfully and broken some of the plastic airplanes.
Future plans of the Joint Chiefs include a campaign to publicize their newly discovered Dead Sea Scroll, the Bill of Rights. They also intend to run General Waste-More-Land for President in '72, on the American Puton Party Ticket -