Fair Use Week Day 5: “Famous” Fair Use Cases: Parody

For the last day of Fair Use Week, we’re sharing another comic related to music, and a couple of interesting cases related to parody.

And to round out the week, I’ve also included this link to A Fair(y) Use Tale, a “humorous, yet informative, review of copyright principles delivered through the words of Disney characters…

Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music by Sarah W. Searle and Kyle K. Courtney (2016). (Read more about the case here.)

“Famous” Fair Use Cases: Parody

Fair use. A movie company used a photo of a naked pregnant woman onto which it superimposed the head of actor Leslie Nielsen. The photo was a parody using similar lighting and body positioning of a famous photograph taken by Annie Leibovitz of the actress Demi Moore for the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. Important factors: The movie company’s use was transformative because it imitated the photographer’s style for comic effect or ridicule. (Leibovitz v. Paramount Pictures Corp., 137 F.3d 109 (2d Cir. N.Y. 1998).)

Not a fair use. An artist created a cover for a New Yorker magazine that presented a humorous view of geography through the eyes of a New York City resident. A movie company later advertised their film Moscow on the Hudson using a similar piece of artwork with similar elements. The artist sued and a court ruled that the movie company’s poster was not a fair use. Important factors: Why is this case different from the previous case involving the Leslie Nielsen/Annie Leibovitz parody? In the Leibovitz case, the use was a true parody, characterized by a juxtaposition of imagery that actually commented on or criticized the original. The Moscow on the Hudson movie poster did not create a parody; it simply borrowed the New Yorker’s parody (the typical New York City resident’s geographical viewpoint that New York City is the center of the world). (Steinberg v. Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., 663 F.Supp. 706 (S.D. N.Y., 1987).)

Monica Moore, Scholarly Communication & Undergraduate Engagement Librarian – Hesburgh Libraries 

Author: Leslie L Morgan

Leslie serves as the Africana Studies and Education Librarian within the Hesburgh Libraries.