New ‘parody’ copyright ruling takes effect

A change has been made to UK legislation which allows the use of copyrighted works for parody. Often termed as ‘mash-ups’, snippets of copyrighted material are used to create new humorous videos and songs.

The internet is awash with examples of these, from humorously re-subtitled films to well-known songs with the lyrics reworked to comment on current affairs.

Until now the creators and publishers of these ‘parodies’ have risked being sued for breach of copyright if they have used the original works without consent from the copyright owner.

The new European Copyright Directive allows the use of copyrighted material for parody, as long as the use is ‘fair’ and does not compete with the original version.

Copyright owners can still sue the creator if the parody conveys a discriminatory message and it would then be up to the Courts to decide whether the parody was malicious or funny.

With some parodies achieving millions of hits or shares online there is real money to be made, for example via You Tube advertising, so we expect there to be a huge surge of parodies online following this change in the law.

Finally, if you are thinking of getting into the parody market yourself, we suggest that you obtain legal advice to ensure that you have considered all copyright issues.

If you would like to discuss intellectual property issues or any legal aspect of your creative business, please get in touch.