Parody is a legal cheat. By using online parody videos, businesses can use the fame and reputation of an established brand to bring themselves publicity and notoriety.
If you are a small business with a tight budget then parody videos can be a fantastic way to make a noise.
In this article we are going to share some examples of businesses that have used parody effectively. We will then offer some guidance on legal considerations when using parody in online video marketing.
5 of our favourite parody videos
1. Somersby Cider
Somersby have apples in common with Apple. They have used the power of the Apple brand to leverage some great coverage for their new cider product. This video achieved over one million views within a week of publishing.
2. The iPhone 5 (Parody) Ad: A Taller Change, by Satire
This video has had over nine million views. Satire has a YouTube channel and they produce comedy videos about trending topics. With video views in the millions, they will be generating revenue from the YouTube adverts that accompany their videos.
3. Nintendo Wii by Sarcastic Gamer
Sarcastic Gamer took a big dig at the announcement from Nintendo about the release of the Wii. The Wii was meant to be revolutionary in terms of how we exercise but as far as Sarcastic Gamer is concerned, it is more about standing around on a white thing that looks good with Ikea furniture. At time of writing the video had reached nearly nine million views.
4. ‘The Specs Effect’ – Lynx Effect parody by Specsavers
Specsavers took the famous Lynx Effect formula and have created an advert promoting their own brand. This video has had nearly two million views via YouTube.
Specsavers also created a Thunderbirds parody video. It has had fewer views than the Lynx video and is less amusing, but it is obvious that Specsavers are aware of the power of parody.
5. The Muppets
The makers of the Muppets have produced a mass of parody trailer videos – using existing iconic movie trailers or music videos and putting their own Muppet spin on them for comic effect.
The legalities of using parody in online videos
The following information is intended as general guidance. If you are creating content and you are unsure about the legalities we would recommend that you seek professional advice.
A parody is an imitation of a particular person, genre or piece of work which is deliberately exaggerated in order to make a comment or poke fun at it. Parodies generally have a lot of comic value.
In the US, parody is protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and free press. When you create a parody you are saying something about the thing in question i.e. criticizing it and highlighting its flaws. Parody involves using sarcasm and humour to raise questions.
Parody also falls under ‘fair use’ in copyright protection. This means that it is okay to take a video, image or song and essentially poke fun at it through parody. It is important that it is very clear that what you are doing is parody and that what you are doing is expressing an opinion. The risk is that your parody video could be construed differently to how you intended.
As recently as 2012, the UK decided to relax parody laws. The exception of copyright now also applies to parody. Previously, it was necessary that one would have to seek permission from the original copyright holder. See this Guardian article for an explanation of Government motivation for these changes.
It is a good idea to contact the original creator of the piece you are parodying. See it as a gesture of goodwill. They may actually enjoy your video and share it, which can only benefit you. You should also think about including a disclaimer with your video, explaining what it is. And while you are at it, make sure you are insured in case someone was to take action against you. Even if you are in the right, you won’t want to pay fees for legal support.
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