In my last column, I discussed the general principles of fair use. In this column, I’ll talk about a specific kind of fair use—parody—and a 7th Circuit case that came down in June that perfectly illustrates how a parody can be a fair use.
The case is Brownmark Films, LLC v. Comedy Partners et al., F.3d (7th Cir. June 7, 2012), and it involves a dispute between the makers of a viral YouTube video entitled “What What (In the Butt)” (WWITB) and the producers of the television series “South Park.”
2. Is the work within the core of copyright protection? Here, the original work, a music video, is within the core of copyright protection, but this factor carries little weight because parodies almost always copy known expressive works (or nobody would understand the parody).