Fair dealing for parody/satire

You can use someone else’s copyright material without permission for the purpose of parody or satire, provided your use is fair.


There is presently no legal definition of parody or satire. However, a parody is commonly understood as an imitation of a work which is likely to include parts of the original. The purpose of a parody is to make some comment on the imitated work or on its creator.

 

The purpose of satire, on the other hand, is to draw attention to characteristics or actions, such as vice or folly, by using certain forms of expression, such as irony, sarcasm and ridicule.

It is important to remember that the exception will not be available unless the use is genuinely for the purpose of parody or satire and is fair in all the circumstances. Humour alone is not enough – there needs to be form of commentary (which may be implied) on the copyright material being used or on characteristics or actions such as vice or folly. For example, changing the lyrics of songs or using the material in an incongruous context, is not necessarily parody or satire; you need to assess whether you are making the relevant kind of comment.


In addition, the use has to be fair in all the circumstances. Factors that may be relevant to determining whether the use is a fair dealing include:

- the amount of the material you are using;

- the context in which the parody or satire is used; and

- whether or not the copyright owner generally licenses such uses.


For more details, see our information sheet Parodies, Satire and Jokes.

 

Parody or satire and moral rights

It is important to remember that both copyright and moral rights issues can arise when you are using someone else’s copyright material to make a parody or satire. For example, if your parody or satire involves a derogatory treatment of someone else’s copyright material, there may be an infringement of the creator’s moral right of integrity in addition to any copyright issue. In this regard, be aware that the fair dealing exception for parody or satire does not apply to moral rights infringements. This means that you may be able to rely on the fair dealing exception for parody or satire to defend a copyright infringement claim, but the exception would not be available to defend a moral rights infringement claim.


For more details about moral rights, see our information sheet Moral Rights.