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'aving a laugh!

Written by Michael Coyle on 02 October 2014

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The law has become enshrined in to English law by way of the Copyright and Rights in Performances (Personal Copies for Private Use) Regulations 2014 and Copyright and Rights in Performances (Quotation and Parody) Regulations 2014.

The bottom line is that rights holders will only be successful in court if the parody conveys a discriminatory message. The Regulations broaden existing copyright laws so as to permit quotations from a work not only for the purpose of criticism or review, but for any purpose, as long as it is a "fair dealing". This will allow other minor uses of quotations, such as academic citation and use in examination papers, which do not undermine the commercial exploitation of copyright works.

The brilliant Graham Linehan, of Father Ted and Black Books, said that "Artists need to be protected, but recently there's been an automated quality to some of the legal challenges. You might do something and you know full well the author of the original work will love the thing your doing and see it as a tribute or friendly nod, but the lawyers - they don't see any of that, they just see something they have to act on. We had an annoying thing recently where have a joke in the new series of Count Arthur Strong that involved a guy in a Predator costume and where the word 'predator' is the thing that makes it funny. Quite a long time after we wrote the script, we were told we couldn't use [the word], so we changed it to "alien bounty hunter" and suddenly the joke goes. It's ok, but it's not the joke we wanted......"[ the Legislation] is a "brilliant thing".


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