Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Does parody trump copyright?; Economist, 12/4/13

Economist; Does parody trump copyright? : "In most countries anyone wanting to use copyrighted material must obtain permission from the copyright holder (unless the holder has already issued a pre-emptive licence, such as one from the Creative Commons organisation). Two exceptions exist in American law. The first is compulsory licensing, which requires any song released to the public in any medium (from wax cylinder to digital download) to be available for any other party to re-record in a substantively similar form. The cover artist pays a fee to the composer for each copy sold or given away. The second exception is fair use, designed to allow parody, commentary and analysis that advance academic, political or social purposes. A four-part test determines whether a derivative work falls under fair-use protection. But the test is ambiguous and relies on litigation, which is costly. Most artists therefore avoid relying on fair-use provisions, and instead seek permission (as "Weird" Al Yankovic does with his parody songs) or avoid using copyrighted material that cannot be licensed... After receiving a complaint from the Beastie Boys' representatives, GoldieBlox filed a lawsuit commonly used in fair-use proceedings asking for a declarative judgment against the Beastie Boys, to affirm the advertisement's status as a parody... After the Beastie Boys published an open letter expressing their dismay at being sued, the toymaker pulled its ad and uploaded a new version with different music. It says it will withdraw its suit once the band agrees not to pursue its copyright-infringement action. Lawyers remain at odds over whether the advertisement represented a parody or simply a rip-off."

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