Curran v Jones on parody law

The Herald reports:

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

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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