The European Union - You Are Joking?

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is not generally known for it's sense of humour. However, it does occasionally have to decide whether humour is permissible!

In the case of Deckmyn v Vandersteen, the ECJ has held that the right to parody copyright material did not contravene European Law. It was therefore permissible (at least in principle) for an author to evoke an existing copyright protected work whilst being different from it in a humourous or mocking way.

The degree of similarity is all important. Parodied works which were very similar to the original copyright protected work might still breach copyright. However, in most cases, an effective parody will require a fair degree of differentiation from the original work.

From 1st October 2014 authors who parody original copyright works in the UK will have specific protection under the Copyright and Rights in Performances (Quotation and Parody) Regulations 2014. Lets hope that the regulations are more amusing than they sound!

For more information on copyright and other intellectual property matters contact partner and head of the commercial department, Gillian Jones.  


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