Are there any legal ramifications to “Call Me Maybe” parodies?

July 25, 2012 12:44 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

An interesting sensation has spread throughout the internet in which individuals over the country have developed an interest in spoofs on Carly Rae Jepsen's hit song "Call Me Maybe." For instance, both Sesame Street and the U.S. Marine Corps have created parodies of the song along with the Harvard baseball team.

News Media Rockstars reported that another individual, James Covenant, created a Star Wars version in which Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia sing along to Jepsen's number one single. However, with so many parodies, one question pops up – are there any legal ramifications to using "Call Me Maybe" in a spoof?

Any media-related businesses that are concerned over copyright issues regarding parodies will be glad to learn that the law is on their side. Court decisions have often been in favor of the defendants in such cases, citing a freedom of speech issue along with the social and political implications of spoofs.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said that a parody "is the use of some elements of a prior author's composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on that author's works." Because of the commentary inclusions, many lawsuits have not been favored on the part of the plaintiff.

For instance, in 2001, author Alice Randall gained the right to publish a piece of work – "The Wind Done Gone" – that parodied "Gone with the Wind" by conveying the story through the perspectives of the slaves in Scarlett O'Hara's household.

While many spoofs of "Call Me Maybe" or other works may be perfectly legal, especially where they have a strong social commentary function and are done with no financial return in mind,  businesses in Arizona may consider the strength of their intellectual property to withstand such challenges.  Or, if one intends to make a parody video, especially using someone else’s copyright or other intellectual property, it wouldn’t hurt to have some legal advice before the video is launched and suddenly goes "viral."

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