Parody is a literary or artistic work that imitates the characteristic style of an author or a work for comic effect or ridicule. Satire is a literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit.

How Does Fair Use Apply to Parody and Satire?

The test for fair use emphasizes the purpose and economic effect of the parody or satiric work. The test doesn’t simply ask how much was taken, but rather the purpose served by the taking and the reasonableness of the taking in light of the purpose.

What Factor of the Fair Use Test Is Most Important?

As long as the purpose is parody, the amount taken is not decisive. The interplay of purpose of the use with the economic effect plays out as the most important factors. So long as the purpose of the use is parody, the economic effect is negated by the fact that authors seldom parody themselves or license others to do so.

What Qualifies as a Parody?

Parody is a transformative use creating a new work of a different character. It is not within the scope of the original author’s expectations of profit.

Does It Matter If I Take the “Heart” of the Original to Create a Parody?

No. First, because parody relies on the very nature and “heart” of the original, and second, because “heart” or not, parody takes nothing from the economic expectations of the author.

Since Parody Can Be Negative Criticism, Might It Be an Infringing Activity?

The fact that parody or satire might affect the market does not make it infringing, since the question is not whether it legitimately suppresses market demand through criticism, but whether it unfairly usurps demand through substitution. Parody is generally not a market substitute.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you have been accused of infringing another person’s work, and you believe your product is simply a form of parody or satire, you may want to hire an attorney to defend your interests. An experienced copyright lawyer can ensure that you are protected from lawsuits while also protecting your own property rights in your satirical work.