Gimme Some of that Ole' Time Law-Talk

I was researching the satire/parody distinction in copyright today. (A quick primer: Copyright permits others' "fair use" of the material so that (c) does not inhibit communication in the same way patent can stymie innovation. Fair use includes newsworthy content, etc. Parody is permitted as a fair use because criticism of a thing often requires creating a likeness of the thing itself. Satire, which is using something to criticize something else, is generally not permitted.) Not surprisingly, the distinction is eroding because it is hard to demarcate. In the mean time, lawyers have to rationalize their client's work as parody as best they can. Witness this beauty of a parenthetical explanation:

Abilene Music, Inc. v. Sony Music Entm’t, Inc., 320 F. Supp. 2d 84,
89–92 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (commenting first that the relevant inquiry
was not whether rapper Ghostface Killah intended his song as a
parody of Wonderful World but whether the song differs from the
original in a way that may reasonably be perceived as commenting
on what a viewer might reasonably think is the unrealistically
uplifting message of Wonderful World, and consequently holding
that Ghostface Killah’s song could be perceived as commenting on
the innocence reflected in the lyrics of the original, in order to
drive home its hard-knock life message more effectively);

1 comment:

David said...

I think that the thing folks are looking for as the solution to this silliness is an updated version of the "compulsory license" - there should be some fee which satirists pay, but that fee and structure needs to be brought up-to-date to the era of digital content.