Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal

Article Title

Requiem for a Parody


Although parody is a meritorious form of literary expression, parodists are often subject to allegations of copyright infringement based on substantial appropriation of copyrighted work. The author examines judicial applications of the "fair use" doctrine as codified in the multifactored balancing test of section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976. The author finds the balancing test to be so vague that courts have virtually unbounded discretion in its application. Indeed, courts have abused their discretion in consistently finding no fair use in sexually-oriented or allegedly obscene parodies. The author concludes that the balancing test must either be applied without bias to parodies or altered to eliminate the potential for abuse.