Copyright Bite #3.3

Sally is an illustrator. She is fascinated by the phenomenon of crossover fiction, games and toys. Why do people think robots are cool? Robots aren’t cool, she thinks. And why are adults buying toy robots? Is it really okay for adults to indulge in childish pursuits?
Intrigued and inspired by the ‘kidult’ success of Dick’s robot, Sally decides to parody it to critique the way that contemporary society appears to encourage a blurring of the lines between adult and children’s culture and play.
She has a number of ideas for her parody. One idea is to re-present Dick’s robot as a clown, with the stereotypical red nose and squirting flower. After all, the essence of parody is humour, she thinks.
Another thought is to portray Dick’s robot in a manner that evokes Marcel Duchamp’s famous parody of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Duchamp’s parody, which he called L.H.O.O.Q., has itself been the subject of numerous subsequent parodies.
In the end, Sally settles on a depiction of the robot that also calls to mind Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio, complete with the set of donkey’s ears that Pinocchio grew in Toy Land. When all is said and done, thinks Sally, if you are an adult who spends time playing with children’s toys you really are a bit of an ass.
Sally’s idea for a robot-Pinocchio-parody is given express form as she commits it to paper. It is original and protected by copyright. Her other possible parodies exist as ideas only and are not copyright-protected. They remain in the public domain.
Importantly, Sally is able to create her parody without having to ask Dick for permission. Dick owns the copyright in his work, and can prevent others from copying, publishing, renting or lending, or otherwise communicating his work to the public, unless their use is otherwise permitted by law. Sally has copied Dick’s work to create her parody, but she is permitted to do so by law. UK copyright law specifically provides an exception to copyright ‘for the purposes of caricature, parody or pastiche’. This means that it is lawful to create parodies that re-use works protected by copyright without having to obtain permission to do so from the copyright owners.

More from Bite #3

Copyright Bite #3.1

Dick has created an original artistic work protected by copyright. Typically the first author of a work will also be the first owner of the copyright in that work.

Copyright Bite #3.2

When you own the copyright in a work you can assign the rights in that work to someone else, or license others to make use of the work in certain clearly defined ways.

Copyright Bite #3.4

Making use of someone’s work to create a parody of that work, or of another work, is lawful in the UK. You do not need to ask the copyright owner for permission.

More Copyright Bites

Copyright Bite #1

Copyright Bite #1 considers how long copyright lasts and what it means to say that a work is protected by copyright or in the public domain.

Copyright Bite #2

Copyright Bite #2 explores how copyright protects only the expression of ideas and not ideas themselves.

Copyright Bite #3

Copyright Bite #3 considers how you can lawfully make use of, or borrow from, works that are still in copyright, but without having to ask for permission or make payment to the copyright owner.