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The New York Times Company announced yesterday afternoon that it will sue the Harvard Lampoon for $175,000 for "willful deceit, commercial libel and commercial defamation" in its March 7 Times parody.
U.S. Justice Department officials are presently studying the parody to determine whether they will file criminal charges for "willful fraudulent claim of copyright." It is a federal offense to appropriate copyright for material not clearly a parody.
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Times president and publisher, said last night that the Lampoon parody did not come as a complete surprise. "I became suspicious last spring when the Lampoon ordered 1500 March 2 issues," he said.
Andrew Heiskell, Chairman of the Board of Time Magazine, said last night that the Time-Life Corporation will "certainly keep an eye on" the Times-Lampoon case. "If the Times wins this suit," Heiskell said, "it will give us the green-light for action against the Lampoon parody of us in 1965."
Murray's News Agency also plans court action, but Murray said yesterday he will drop charges with the return of the 800 stolen copies--plus reimbursement for depreciation. Asked if he held any grudge against the Poonies, Murray said, "If I had caught them I'd have broken their necks."
Murray did catch Peter Gabel '68 switching papers on President Pusey's front porch, but there was no bloodshed.
Thomas S. LaFarge '69, Lampoon president, said last night his organization would not return the 800 newspapers stolen from Harvard hallways. "We sold them to a waste paper dealer for $2.37," LaFarge said. "It was our biggest sale since the Playboy parody."
Cambridge Councilman Alfred Vellucci could not be reached for comment.
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