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Caricature, parody or pastiche copyright exceptions

From October 2014 it now legal to use a limited amount of another’s work without their permission for caricature, parody or pastiche.

  • A comedy sketch may incorporate a few lines from a film or song for a parody.
  • A cartoonist may reference an artwork for a caricature.
  • An artist may use small fragments from a range of films to create a larger work, eg a mash up.

What are the definitions of “caricature”, “parody” and “pastiche” for the purposes of this exception?

The words have their normal meanings.

Can I use an entire track or video?

Fair dealing allows you to use a limited amount of someone else’s work. If longer extracts are required you will need to get permission from the copyright holder.You cannot expect to be able to use an entire musical track or video and fall within this exception.

Does a parody have to be funny?

By definition a parody does involve humour or mockery but it does not have to be aimed at the original creator.  You can use it to make a point on any topic. The humour element has yet to be tested in law. 

You may wish to read this article from the Daily Telegraph.

TURNER, C., 2014. Ripping off videos is fine, as long as they make you laugh. The Daily Telegraph, Sep 30, 2014, 11 [viewed 1 May 2015]. Available from: ProQuest European Newsstand

Defamation (libel or slander)

These changes to copyright law do not alter the laws on defamation (libel or slander). You may be sued if your work is seen as defamatory.

There are further protections under the copyright laws for the original creator of the work and if your use of their material amounts to “derogatory treatment” the rights-holder will be able to take legal action.

Further Reading 

Intellectual Property Office, 2014. Exceptions to copyright: guidance for creators and copyright owners


Page last updated on Wednesday 9 March 2016 at 9.52am.


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