Curran v Jones on parody law

October 15th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour’s communications spokeswoman, , has taken her colleague to task for wading into her portfolio area and criticising a Green Party bill to allow exemptions to for the sake of .

In the Weekend Herald, Mr Jones said Green MP Gareth Hughes’ proposed bill to allow copyrighted work to be used for parody or satire was part of a “Green agenda” of economic vandalism and would endanger jobs by damaging companies’ brands.

However, Ms Curran said she did not agree with Mr Jones and his comments were contrary to Labour’s general policy on the issue.

She later told the Herald she had contacted Mr Jones.

She said Mr Hughes’ Copyright (Parody and Satire) Amendment Bill was in line with Labour’s policy.

“From my perspective and our policy perspective, it’s the mark of a civilised society to do so. So my view and our policy view are not in accord with Shane Jones’ views. We will have a discussion with him when we get back [from the United States].”

Labour’s caucus was yet to discuss the bill, but she would recommend the party support it if it was drawn from the member’s ballot.

The main article on what Jones said is here. Danyl has also commented here.

On this issue I agree with Clare and Gareth. I think parody and satire should be “fair use” of material under our laws – as it is in the United States. Companies should not be able to prevent satire or parody by resort to copyright laws.

However there is an issue about how far fair use stretches. Few would say you shouldn’t be able to highlight and mock extracts from an advertisement, but is it fair use to say take an entire five minute video, and edit it into a parody? Does it make a difference if a competitor does it, or a lobby group?

There is also the reality that any attempt to remove a parody or satire of an ad, will probably just see the ad get wider publicity and hosted more widely.

If Gareth’s bill gets drawn, I hope it passes first reading. There would be some interesting factors to consider at select committee though about how far “fair use” (or “fair dealing” extends.  How would we feel if some US lobby group did ads using Fonterra’s intellectual property to try and damage their brand in the US and cause harm to NZ exports?

For me the principle is clear, that parody and satire should be allowed. The details may need some work.

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13 Responses to “Curran v Jones on parody law”

  1. contheneo (18 comments) says:

    What about the situation where they use an image. NZIPP are pushing for photographers to retain the copyright on images, and for them to license the use of the image to the organisation contracting them. Should people be able to use material that’s copyright is owned by one person or organisation to create satire of parody of another organisation or person?

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  2. dime (8,740 comments) says:

    So we could do an entire campaign smearing the greens using their own logo etc..

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  3. gazzmaniac (2,266 comments) says:

    is it fair use to say take an entire five minute video, and edit it into a parody?

    If I recall, you love the Downfall parodies DPF.

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  4. Alfred (52 comments) says:

    Gareth’s Bill is nothing but a patsy to Greenpeace. There is no current issue with free speech in NZ, so let’s be completely clear why Gareth is promoting this Bill – it’s to allow Greenpeace the absolute freedom to abuse trademarks and the intellectual property of companies they don’t like.

    Companies only intervene when parody gets too bad, but having the right (via Parliament no less) to do so does nothing to further NZ’s economy. It only gifts activist groups the right for open slater against NZ companies. Yes, those are companies that hire New Zealanders, pay taxes, providing training and development opportunities for their workers, etc etc.

    If overseas ‘activist group’ took Fonterra’s IP, you can bet they would absolutely take issue with it. And rightly so.

    To have Clare Curran support Gareth’s Bill really does demonstrate that Labour is the lackey of the Greens. Shane Jones actually stood up to these activists (insert Gareth Hughes) hell-bent on destroying Sealords and putting at risk the jobs that they provides. It seems some in Labour (Curran) seem more inclined to see NZ companies have the piss taken out of them, than actually supporting them and ensuring they can employ people.

    Labour is clearly focusing on things that matter.

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  5. Weihana (4,464 comments) says:

    Alfred,

    Yes, those are companies that hire New Zealanders, pay taxes, providing training and development opportunities for their workers, etc etc.

    Therefore they are beyond criticism?

    What do you mean when you say Greenpeace wish to “abuse” trademarks? The purpose of a trademark is to identify a unique source for a product. Does Greenpeace wish to deceive people into believing that certain companies are supporting Greenpeace’s advocacy? Sounds rather unlikely. Surely their purpose is to lampoon those companies, to diminish their reputation by advocating against what they do. This seems perfectly reasonable and fair in a free and democratic society that supports the right to free speech.

    The fact that a company owns a brand does not mean it is entitled to the value that may be associated with that brand and which depends upon public opinion. If advocacy, and parody in particular, can destroy the value of a brand by swaying public opinion then that should be absolutely protected in a free society no matter how many jobs that company provides. Providing jobs does not entitle a company to censor criticism.

    The only question is whether something actually is a parody, rather than a clever attempt to avoid copyright or trademark protection. For instance if I uploaded a video to Youtube of an entire music video and then provided a 10 second joke at the end that would hardly be parody because the joke merely serves as an excuse to violate copyright rather than actually being the primary purpose.

    But if something really is parody then I do not agree there is any justification in censorship “when parody gets too bad”. No company has a right to be free from criticism and people should be able to use their trademarks and copyright protected works for the purpose of parody. Trademarks and copyright are not intended to censor parody and other types of political commentary and it is an abuse of intellectual property law to use it for that purpose.

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  6. Longknives (4,037 comments) says:

    I’m confused. The Greens are self-professed ‘Anarchists’ anyway…
    Surely drafting such a bill defeats the purpose??

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  7. Eli (9 comments) says:

    This all seems very tame. It is, from what I remember from many years ago when I was interested, not even as broad as ‘fair use’ goes in the US, though closer to what I remember of the UK’s version. Although, since that was something like 5 years ago my memory is a little hazy on the details. Anyway, I fully support anything that allows fair use of a work and I support copyright rights for creators. The two are not mutually exclusive, and if the law is drafted properly then I think this is a very good thing.

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  8. Weihana (4,464 comments) says:

    DPF,

    How would we feel if some US lobby group did ads using Fonterra’s intellectual property to try and damage their brand in the US and cause harm to NZ exports?

    NZ exports are irrelevant. Economic interests are not a justification for censoring free speech. Intellectual property law is designed with a purpose in mind. Trademarks serve to identify a unique source. Parody using a trademark could not reasonably be considered to undermine that purpose if it is obviously a parody.

    For me the principle is clear, that parody and satire should be allowed. The details may need some work.

    Agreed. For me the primary issue is determining what exactly is parody. Obviously this requires judgment on a case by case basis. But I would consider something parody if its purpose is obviously such and it only uses intellectual property to the extent necessary for the parody. Moreover, its use of intellectual property for the purposes of parody should not undermine intellectual property law. So a parody utilizing a trademark should be obviously a parody and not mislead viewers into thinking the parody came from the trademark source. People should be clear that the parody comes from a source other than the holder of the trademark.

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  9. niggly (779 comments) says:

    I’m also looking forward to Gareth and Claire (being the Green’s and Labour’s respective spokesperson’s on copyright, parody and satire etc) publicly defending film-makers and cartoonists parodying films & works about, say, Islam and/or the Prophet Mohammed!

    Strangely the Greens and Labour tend to be silent on such issues!

    Would it be also be fair to say both the Greens and Labour actually discourage similar “free speech”, parody & satire if it is hurtful to minority groups? (And weren’t Labour tinkering around with a “hate speech” bill proposal when last in Govt)?

    This all tends to suggest Gareth and Claire are at odds with their Party’s “traditional values” when it suits them …. unless it is not ok to mock minorities but ok to mock Corporates …. which then sort of suggests Shane Jones and Alfred above have a valid point, yes?

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  10. TimG_Oz (883 comments) says:

    Its very important we see an example of the type of Satire that this bill will prevent from being outlawed:

    Helen Clark’s Downfall Parody:

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  11. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    All this signals to me is Curran using the media to signal her upward trajectory in the Labour Party as it passes the downward trajectory of Jones’s.

    She gets to sound ‘authoratative’ and ‘important’ – dare I say ‘whip-like’ , and he gets the subliminal message not to let the door hit his arse on the way out.

    On the bright side, I’d suggest Jones has never had a problem with whips before, so maybe this is a win-win.

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  12. ChardonnayGuy (1,023 comments) says:

    I think the problem here is whether one is a doctrinaire ideological purist who can’t laugh at themselves, whatever side of the political fence one is on. Me, I’ve always enjoyed Monty Pythonesque brands of humour…and the work of Rabelais, during my classicist moments.

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  13. Lee C (4,516 comments) says:

    The long winter evenings must fly past. . .

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