Copyright law is to be relaxed to allow comedians and film-makers to make parodies without seeking permission.
New rules announced by the Government would give copyright exemptions to those engaging in ‘parody, caricature and pastiche’.
As well as fueling the already vibrant trend for online mash-ups, the changes would also make it easy for TV producers to source clips for comedy shows, as they would not have to seek the permission of the rights holders. Existing fair-use rules allow short clips to be used without permission for news content, but not for comedy.
However, the guidelines issued by the Department For Business say the ‘fair dealing’ defence would not apply to copying disguised as parody.
The moves follows a major review conducted by Ian Hargreaves, professor of digital economy at Cardiff University, and also grant consumers the legal right to transfer books and music they have bought on to digital devices.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: ‘Making the intellectual property framework fit for the 21st century is not only commonsense but good business sense. Bringing the law into line with ordinary people’s reasonable expectations will boost respect for copyright, on which our creative industries rely.
‘We feel we have struck the right balance between improving the way consumers benefit from copyright works they have legitimately paid for, boosting business opportunities and protecting the rights of creators.’
The changes, due to be implemented next year, mark a success for the Right To Parody lobby group, backed by IT Crowd creator Graham Linehan, who said big business were using intellectual property rules to silence critics and suffocate creativity.
Examples include an Olympic spoof pulled from YouTube because it used the mascots Wenlock and Mandeville, legal action against a Greenpeace campaign that parodied VW’s adverts to make a point about climate change, and the removal of the hugely popular Newport State Of Mind spoof after the original songwriters objected.