You are here

Music Video Parodies as Fair Use

The next presenter at ICA 2010 is Aymar Christian, who continues our focus on YouTube: his interest is on music videos on the site, and he argues that music video remakes shared on YouTube are almost always fair use. User-generated music videos (riffing on official videos) are amongst the most popular genres on YouTube, following in a long tradition (also incorporating professional work, such as the Weird Al videos); music videos and their remakes stand in a postmodernist tradition that may critique representation and reject standard Hollywood narrative (not least also characterised by the emergenceof MTV.

Remake videos reinterpret and critique the original music video as well as demonstrate active fandom; if user-generated, they are in essence engaging in a Weird Al activity without official permission. But how does cultural and copyright policy address these? Government policy remains largely blind to them, and through take-down mechanisms corporations still have the final say; where this happens, semi-professional users use revenue, some may change their practices or give up altogether, and some perhaps never actually post their content publicly in the first place because of copyright concerns.

A fair use exception which would allow the posting of remakes depends on the work being transformative - parody counts here, for example. Aymar argues that almost all remake videos are transformative - not least because they replace the star with another performer, and thereby remove the marketing component of the original video; additionally, the postmodern reading which remakes tend to provide is also inherently transformative.

Technorati : , , , , , : , , , , ,