Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Supreme Court and parody protection: this day in history

It was on this day (March 7) 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."

Among those who sent "friend of the court" briefs in support of 2 Live Crew were Mad magazine, The Harvard Lampoon, and the Comedy Central TV channel. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of parody.

1994 predates the wild profusion of parody on the web... it's interesting to speculate how things might be different online if the Supreme Court had decided differently. For the moment, raise a glass and toast the anniversary of this most historic occasion.

(With thanks to Rex Strother for the reminder.)
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Satire pervades the web, seeping into mailboxes and mainstream news like a spilled cup of coffee. It stains and it won't go away.

The Bitter Cup is a collaborative blog for members of HumorFeed, a collaborative of satire and humor sites that has been making trouble since 2003.