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The “Catfish” Lawsuit

The “Catfish” Lawsuit (photo)

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Just how true is “Catfish”? The film, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman and centered on Schulman’s brother Nev and his internet relationship with someone in the Midwest, has raised questions as to how nonfiction it actually is since its Sundance premiere.

And now Eriq Gardner at the Hollywood Reporter notes that the filmmakers and producers, along with distributors Universal and Relativity Media, are the subjects of a lawsuit that could give some insight into how much staging, acting and fiction went into the film.

And naturally, it’s all thanks to a licensing issue. (Spoilers follow).

Threshold Media is behind the lawsuit — that’s the company that owns the rights to Amy Kuney’s “All Downhill From Here,” a live YouTube version of which Angela, the woman on the other end of many Facebook sockpuppets, tries to pass off as her own. The song also plays over the closing credits. Gardner writes:

For some time now, Threshold has been attempting to get filmmakers to pay licensing fees for the song. According to the new copyright infringement lawsuit, the producers have rejected doing so. According to Threshold’s LA lawyer, Neville Johnson, the producers claimed that since the song was part of a real-life documentary, it was a “fair use” of the copyright.

But what if those were staged scenes – and filmmakers knowingly exploited a copyrighted song? Wouldn’t the “fair use” defense crumble?

He also points out that “the film’s producers may stick to their story that the whole thing was authentic, but they will have to do so under oath, and Threshold will enjoy a discovery proceeding to ferret out the truth.”

The stickier question is what happens if, as I’d suspect, the film is a mix of staged scenes and true ones — how much concoction does it take for a film to no longer be considered a documentary and therefore no longer fall under the protection of fair use? Now there’s a real 21st century dilemma.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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