The 12th anniversary of a historic day...
It was on this day in 1994 that the Supreme Court ruled that parody can be protected by the fair use clause of the Copyright Act of 1976. The case arose from a song by the rap group 2 Live Crew, which used elements of the Roy Orbison song from 1964, "Oh Pretty Woman."
The Roy Orbison version of the song is about a man watching a pretty woman walking down the street. The 2 Live Crew version is about the subsequent relationship with that woman, who becomes a hairy woman, a bald-headed woman, and a two-timing woman. The music publishing company Acuff-Rose, which holds the copyright for the Roy Orbison song, sued 2 Live Crew for copyright violation.
Justice David H. Souter wrote, "Like less ostensibly humorous forms of criticism, [parody] can provide social benefit by shedding light on an earlier work and, in the process, creating a new one."
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