Defining parody and satire: Australian copyright law and its new exception: Part 2 - Advancing ordinary definitions
MetadataShow full item record
In Part 1 of ‘Defining Parody and Satire’ we sought to show that, for the purposes of the new exception to infringement of the Copyright Act in ss 41A and 103AA (the ‘new exception’), it is unsafe to construe parody and satire according either to US law on the matter or to available dictionary definitions. In this part we propose working definitions for parody and satire which, we suggest, are more congruent with both the intention of the Act to protect the free speech of Australian humorists and with the ordinary meanings of the words. There are four categories of artistic practice that the new Australian exceptions would seem designed to protect. The largest two groups combine the two terms: (1) satirical parodies in which copyright material is reused and distorted for the satirical effect of ridiculing that material. These are the staple of many literary, theatrical, video and digital media. We propose a metaphor of the satirical fist of critical intent animating the parodic glove of formal reuse to help comprehend this group particularly. (2) A group of satirical parodies where the target is not the artistic form parodied, but where the parody, for example of a popular song, provides a vehicle for satirical comment of some other person, group, or event. (3) Pure parody — formal play without discernible satirical intent either towards the vehicle text or any other potential target. This is, perhaps, most common these days in the visual arts, where a layering of pre-existing images creates juxtapositions which defy rhetorical purpose; there is also an established tradition of affectionate literary and dramatic parody. (4) Straight or pure satire, which may be independent of parody, but which may also quote its object so that the audience can know what the target is, without distorting the form of that object (text or image) in parodic ways. This category would include the use of excerpts of television broadcasts which became the subject of Australian copyright litigation in the well known ‘Panel’ case decided before the introduction of the new exception. We submit that unlicensed use of copyright material in all of these categories should enjoy the protection of the new Australian exception, subject to the issues of ‘fairness’ and possibly also moral rights in particular instances — a consideration of which is beyond the scope of this article. The definitions of parody and satire we will propose are: Parody: the borrowing from, imitation, or appropriation of a text, or other cultural product or practice, for the purpose of commenting, usually humorously, upon either it or something else; Satire: the critical impulse manifesting itself in some degree of denigration, almost invariably through attempted humour; the artistic results (usually humorous) of expression of such a critical impulse.
© 2008 LexisNexis and authors. Published version of the paper reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Personal use of this material is permitted. However, permission to reprint/republish this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or to reuse any copyrighted component of this work in other works must be obtained from LexisNexis