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Will parody videos get you into trouble?
One type of video that has proven to be quite popular on YouTube is parodies… which of course is something I’ve taken advantage of in my strategy to get more views (click here to see my Parodies playlist on YouTube). Copyright issues on YouTube however, have discouraged some people from doing them, or at least given them doubt as to what they can or can’t do on the site without risking possible suspension or even termination of their account.
Here are some points that were recently shared by an entertainment lawyer in a ReelSEO post aimed at setting the record straight about the legality of doing these kinds of videos… in the US at least, under the Fair Use law.
1. Parodies are essentially commentaries that poke fun at something to spark a discussion about it. They are ok to do because they make changes to the originals and “bend the truth”. You do need to have to make it clear though that you’re doing a parody and expressing an opinion. To be safe, you could always add a disclaimer that this is what your intention are to do.
2. You generally don’t have to worry about copyright infringement when you do a parody because sometimes you have to adopt a portion of the original work in order to make yours work. It can be argued that without using a shot of the original to give reference to what you’re doing, your parody wouldn’t make sense, and Fair Use typically allows for that.
Certain rules apply to different countries and Fair Use can even be bypassed by state laws within the US. The best defense you’ll have for yourself, of course, is 1. to ask permission from the owner of the original work, and 2. to credit the owner of the original work. Because I don’t expect pop stars to promptly return my request when asking for permission, I typically go with just option #2 and put links to the original videos I’m making a parody of in the description field of mine, sometimes even links to where you can buy the original work on iTunes.
At the end of the day there isn’t always a definitive line on what will or won’t protect you from getting into any copyright issues when using someone else’s property in your videos, so you’ll just have to assess your own risk level and decide whether or not it’s worth it to you… or of course talk to a lawyer for advice on your particular situation and the laws where you live.
What do you think? Have you had any issues with using other people’s work in your videos? Do you make completely original videos that only contain your own visuals and audio? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.