New Copyright Laws On Parody Introduced

Change Part Of Wider Amendments To Legislation In UK

01.10.2014

A new defence to copyright claims comes into force today (October 1st).  The ‘fair dealing’ defence will extend the current defences relating to criticism, review and news reporting to parodies, pastiches and caricatures.

The changes are introduced by virtue of a new European Copyright Directive which means that the use of copyright works for certain specified purposes is permitted, without having to obtain the permission of the copyright owner, as long as it is deemed to be fair. 

The UK Intellectual Property Office has said that “adopting this exception will give people in the UK’s creative industries greater freedom to use other's works for parody purposes".

Copyright owners will still be able to take action against the unauthorised use of their work, where the use is not ‘minor’ or following a recent European decision – referred to as the case of Johan Deckmyn [C-201/13]) – if the tone of the parody is determined to be discriminatory.

The new legislation is most likely expected to impact on the growing number of parody and mash-up videos being produced and posted to YouTube and other video streaming websites, which in the past had little legal protection.

These changes are being introduced alongside a number of other amendments, including those which mean that consumers are able to copy CDs they have purchased onto an iPod or another portable music playing device.

Expert Opinion
These changes are part of the ongoing efforts to modernise the UK’s copyright legislation, bringing it more into line with other jurisdictions and ensure that it is more fit for purpose in our digital society, whether it comes to ripping music to a portable device or creating parody videos for posting to YouTube.

"As a result, we are now likely to see growth in material similar to that produced by ‘Cassette Boy’, who has become notorious for his online mash-up parodies of shows including The Apprentice and Dragons' Den.

"The key issues for creatives to bear in mind however will be that they don’t fall short of the fair dealing defence, by either making use of too much of the copyright work or – in the eyes of the law – competing with it."
Georgie Collins, Partner