Posted by John North, Partner
On 1 September 2016 Withy King LLP merged with Royds LLP. The trading name for the merged firm is Royds Withy King. All content produced prior to this date will remain in the name of the firms pre-merger.
Parody videos made legal under new law
Revisions to EU copyright laws came into effect on 1 October, including a change to legalise so-called ‘mash-ups’, better known as parody productions. This includes spoof videos of famous songs, but only if they are ‘deemed sufficiently funny.’
The semi-controversial ruling is part of the new European Copyright Directive. Previous copyright rules meant that there was a risk of being sued for breach of copyright when similar material was used without original consent. However, under the new laws, parody producers will only be vulnerable to legal action if the material is in direct competition with the original or contains a discriminatory message.
Somewhat unusually, however, it would be down to a judge to rule whether the content is sufficiently funny to avoid being discriminatory.
The Commercial team here at Royds reckons that the new law could create controversy as what is considered funny by some may not be seen as funny by others.
The EU rules state: “The only, and essential, characteristics of parody are, on the one hand, to evoke an existing work while being noticeably different from it and, on the other, to constitute an expression of humour or mockery.
If a parody conveys a discriminatory message (for example, by replacing the original characters with people wearing veils and people of colour), the holders of the rights to the work parodied have, in principle, a legitimate interest in ensuring that their work is not associated with such a message.”
Record labels had been campaigning to put an end to mash-ups, which are created by re-editing existing material and are popular on the internet and social media, and usually intended for humorous or satirical expression. On the other hand, the change in the law has been welcomed by comedy writers who often felt as if their chosen form of expression was being unnecessarily censored.