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UK Copyright Law and changes for parody works

Written by Gcobisa Bonani on 07 November 2014

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Under previous UK law, parodies of copyrighted music, TV shows and films were not permitted unless prior consent had been obtained from the owners of the copyright. Before the changes took place, artists who put together parody videos or songs ran the risk of being sued for breaching copyright by using any clips from TV shows, films or songs, without the necessary consent from the copyright owner.

The amendments to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, creates a new 'fair dealing' right to use copyrighted material for works of parody. This allows for people to use limited amounts of another person’s work without the owner’s permission, provided that its use is for parody work only.

Regarding the ‘fair dealing’ right, the UK Courts have now established various factors for determining whether the use of a copyrighted work is 'fair', these include assessing whether use of the copied material affects the market for the original work and whether the amount of the material copied is reasonable and appropriate.

Although these changes have taken place, owners of copyright work do have the right to sue if the parody conveys a discriminatory message or if its use amounts to derogatory treatment.  

By Gcobisa Bonani, a legal assistant at Lawdit Solicitors

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