Parody videos now legal under EU law

On Wednesday 1st October a new EU law will come into effect, that allows parody “mash-ups” and spoof videos which uses clips from films, TV programmes and songs to be legal.

At the moment, artists who would put together these comedy videos were at risk of being sued for breaching copyright by using clips from TV shows, films or songs, without consent given by the original creator.

Cassette Boy, who is well-known for his mashup of BBC show the Apprentice, told BBC News that the rules that were to be changed made him feel “censored”.

“It’s like being a painter in a country where paint is illegal. In the past, our work has just disappeared from the internet overnight.”

Now, from Wednesday onwards, the creators of these parody videos can be sued only if their version gives off a discriminatory message, or tries to compete with the original work, as reported by BBC News. Then a judge would decide if the piece is funny enough to be considered a parody and if it breaks the rules.

The European Copyright Directive states: “The only and essential characteristics of a 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 of 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.”

Comedy writer Graham Linehan, who worked on TV shows such as The IT Crowd, Father Ted and Black Books described the change in rules as “a brilliant thing”.

“It seems harder to do innocent mentions of anything to represent something that is part of our lives.” He said. “The thing it’s most important and useful for, is the explosion of creativity that’s come about because of the internet and the ability to share it.”

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