PARODY AND BURLESQUE IN THE LAW OF COPYRIGHT
AbstractAlthough the meanings of parody and burlesque differ in compositional nuance, each is a form of criticism by mimicry. Chaucer mocked chivalric medieval romances; Shakespeare parodied Marlowe; and Marston had a go at Shakespeare. This venerated form of satire is alive and well and living in traditional and novel forms of media. So how does the sending up of well-known literary works accord with the law of copyright? Copyright legislation has a dual purpose: first, to protect the author’s proprietary right; and second, to encourage the development of literature and the arts in a manner consonant with that right. The doctrine of “fair use” evolved with a view to aiding the development of science and arts by allowing use of copyrighted materials notwithstanding the monopoly of copyright. In light of the historical fact that parody and burlesque are important independent intellectual creations, we should extend rather than constrict the boundaries of “fair use” and apply it for their protection and furtherance. After all, isn’t that the point of copyright law?
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