With the advancement of intellectual property rights, new lexicon like ‘parody spoofing’ has also surfaced. So the question comes up , what is Parody /Spoofing? Why is it so much in public interest?

Parody is a creative work that impersonates the characteristic style of another author or work in an overstated way for comic effect.  The purpose is to condemn or ridicule the original work in a humorous way. The terminology’ parody’/’ spoofing’ came into public eye through  the landmark case of, Campbell v Acuff- Rose Music. Where U.S. Supreme Court asserted that parody is a work that imitates another’s work in an attempt to ridicule or make an ironic commentary. It is a protected in form of free speech and parodies under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976.


Under UK Copyright laws, EU Copyright Directive was implemented so as to provide an exception to copyright for the purposes of caricature, parody. This was because there were probabilities that the re-use works that are already protected under Copyright law can be again used as parody without seeking permission from the right holders. Accordingly, to ensure that such works are considered as legitimate work and fall under the parameter of fair use, UK government came up with this copyright exception. Moreover, the parody exception cannot be overridden by contract which enables the creator to make parody of something even if the original author prohibits the creator from using the underlying source material. The UK Copyright law provides moral rights to the creator so that right holders can take legal action against the parodist in case the work amounts to derogatory treatment. Nonetheless, UK copyright laws encourage the free speech aspects of critical parody and simultaneously also respect the rights of copyright owners. Copying works such as parody or caricature has been defined in Sec. 30 A and Schedule 2 (2A) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Similarly, in order to consider parody as fair use defense, under U.S. Copyright Act, certain factors are considered in order to protect the work.  Under Section 107 of the said Act,  the purpose and character of the use of the original copyrighted work , the commercial or non- commercial nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion used of the copyrighted work and the effect on the potential market or value of the copyrighted work. So U.S Copyright law considers parody as an original and new work and the parodied work should be viewed as fair use.

Likewise, under Indian Law, parody work is treated as original work and reproducing substantial portions of the original work may be acceptable to the limited extent that they are criticism of the original work under Sec. 52 (1) (a) of the Copyright (Amendment) Act 2012. The provision allows for persons to take part in fair dealing with a work for certain specified purposes without the permission of the rights owner. Similarly, in the case of parodies of cinematograph films and sound recordings, each of these works would have a separate set of rights associated with them. Therefore, to determine the legality of these work, it is tested under Sec. 52 (1) (a) of the Copyright Act along-with the Substantiality Test under Sec. 14 of the Copyright Act 1956. However, there is no clarity in terms of fair use so in order to determine whether or not a parody is legal with respect to Indian Copyright Law could be thought to venture into a legal minefield.


We need to understand that humor is an important detriment for determining ‘reasonability’ of restrictions. Thus it should be encouraged as it involves creativity and should be reasonable as per Art. 19 (2) of Indian Constitution. We should comprehend the significance of free speech as well as also remember such speech should not amount to defamation or any criminal offence. This would maintain a balance between parodies and intellectual property infringement.

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