San Francisco, CA — Today Yelp Inc.filed a $10 million dollar lawsuit against the creators of South Park and Comedy Central. In the lawsuit, Yelp is seeking damages caused by the latest episode of South Park which lampooned the customer review and local business rating website.
Paul Horner, who is a spokesman for Yelp, spoke with NBC Newsabout details of the lawsuit.
“Our company, along with its millions of users, take Yelp very seriously. The South Park episode was in extremely bad taste and not funny whatsoever. To say our critics are out there trying to get free food and using racist slurs on little Mexican children is beyond ridiculous. To compare the users of Yelp to terrorists is not only cruel, but the definition of libel and slander. I believe any reasonable court in America will see our lawsuit and rule in our favor.”
Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of the popular animated series, were quick to issue a statement of their own.
“Our company, along with its millions of users, take Yelp very seriously. The South Park episode was in extremely bad taste and not funny whatsoever. To say our critics are out there trying to get free food and using racist slurs on little Mexican children is beyond ridiculous. To compare the users of Yelp to terrorists is not only cruel, but the definition of libel and slander. I believe any reasonable court in America will agree with the lawsuit and rule in our favor.”
The episode at the center of the lawsuit, titled, You’re Not Yelping, parodies Yelp reviewers, going as far as comparing them to ISIS, while also continuing the season-to-date theme which mocks political correctness.
Harvard law professor, Tom Downey, believes Yelp will lose the $10 million lawsuit.
“It is of my personal opinion that this case falls under fair use laws protected by freedom of speech and using parody to deliver its message,” Downey said. “Though, with such recent cases as Snopes v. Horner, anything is possible these days. If I was South Park, I would still be worried.”
According to Business Week, Yelp has a complicated relationship with small businesses. Criticism regarding the company focuses on the legitimacy of reviews, public statements of Yelp manipulating and blocking reviews in order to increase ad spending, as well as concerns regarding the privacy of reviewers.
Fappy The Anti-Masturbation Dolphin, a mascot for a Christian anti-masturbation organization, says the company is losing business because of Yelp reviewers.
“Before being listed on Yelp we had no problem going around the country speaking to elementary school children about the dangers and consequences of masturbation. Now, with our poor reviews on Yelp, people are beginning to question our morals and ethics, like that is so important. Just because I have been arrested three times for public masturbation and each case was pardoned by the Governor, doesn’t mean our federal funding and government support had anything to do with it. With the assumptions made by Yelp reviewers, they are causing deadly self-rape addictions in this country to continue and in the end it is Big Masturbation that wins. Such a shame.”
South Park is well known for controversy, speaking out against corporations, individuals and religion. In 2005, an episode about Scientology aired titled, Trapped In The Closet. After the first week of airing, the controversial episode mocking outspoken Scientologist Tom Cruise was pulled from the scheduled lineup under mysterious circumstances (Some saying it was due to pressure from Cruise and Scientology). Stone and Parker immediately issued the following statement:
“So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies… You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail!”
The $10 million lawsuit was filed at the Superior Court of California with opening arguments beginning November 5th.