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Can you make song parodies?

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Aktionsbündnis gegen Studiengebühren AStA Uni Kiel

Can you make song parodies?

Even if I am not a lawyer, I am concerned for years with music video parodies on Youtube. I also created a website of my own and think that I am a little in the matter in it.

My Wall-of-Speech refers to the situation in Germany. The US fair-use law is much more straightforward, but not applicable to us in Germany. Regardless of whether a song is marketed in Germany or not, the song in Germany is always subject to the protection of German copyright law.

Also irrelevant is the fact that e.g. Psy according to The Guardian renounced the copyright for Gangnam Style. As long as Psy is represented by GEMA, the same rules apply to his songs in Germany.

Whether commercial, non-profit or free: the author of a song must agree to the exploitation of his song. If the copyright holder is represented by the GEMA, it is sufficient to become a member of the GEMA and pay the fees there. If you want to cover a song not only, but to edit and transform it, one needs the (written) consent of the originator.

§24 UrhG

(1) An independent work created in free use of the work of another may be published and exploited without the consent of the author of the work used. "

The legislator explicitly created a gap in §24 UrhG in order to prevent censorship by the author. It is assumed that the creator of a parody of his work would not agree and that this would collide with the basic right to freedom of expression.

For this reason, the record companies and the GEMA on Youtube are also very cautious when it comes to locking parodies. In contrast to other copyright infringements, these procedures can be escalated without difficulty before the Federal Constitutional Court.

I have so far only a single case, where a music parody on Youtube by the GEMA or on the occasion of the original author (especially Stefan Raab) was blocked. This was Schland-O-Schland of Uwulena as a parody on Lena Meyer-Landrut's satellite.

Just as fast as the video on Youtube disappeared, Uwulena and Stefan Raab have also agreed. This led as we probably all know about the professional marketing of the song. What was going on in the background, of course, knows no one, but it is to be assumed that both sides were aware of the special status of parodies. A judicial escalation would have been quite interesting.

The difficult thing about the whole subject is the decision, which is a parody / free use. In the case of doubt, the decision as to whether a work has reached the necessary level of cre- ation as a stand-alone work is the responsibility of the judges.

Basically I would differentiate for Youtube two cases:

First of all, the case where the video material is simply replaced by its own material, but the original soundtrack is preserved. In this case, the video mobiles must display the parody on the original video. This is quite easy with songs like "Gangnam Style" by Psy, since the video itself is very uninstant and easy to take on the shuffle. This is more difficult with songs with serious videos. It is enough to parody it. Not to let people dance to the song. Also a flashmob is no parody there. Avatars from computer games to the song dance, could also be problematic and possibly not go through as parody.

The second case, on the other hand, is simpler: in addition to the video material, the lyrics are replaced by their own lyrics. In this case, the combination of new text and video ads must represent the parodies. Basically this case is first more difficult to recognize the status as parody than in the first case. However, the transition from parody (without permission allowed) to reinterpretation (only allowed with permission) is seamless. If, in addition to the song, you parody a second theme, one makes it in doubt more easily to be recognized as parody. Examples of this would be Gandalf Style as a parody on Gangnam Style from Psy in combination as a parody on Lord of the Rings.

We can not say unfortunately that it is allowed or that it is forbidden. Basically, however, it can be noted that on Youtube a lot of music video parodies are available, which have not been blocked by the GEMA or the record companies.

This is difficult to justify with the incapacity of the detection software. For my website, where I list music video parodies, I use detection software myself to determine the original song. In estimated more than 90% of the cases, the software gives me the corresponding original song. It should be for the GEMA and the record companies so very easy to find such parodies and lock. They do it i.d.R. but not. Presumably, because they are not sure whether a blockade would be available before German courts.

If you do not want to make commercial parodies with no commercial background, and want to make it online on Youtube, this should be my personal assessment. Should it actually come to a blocking, I would contradict with Youtube and the applicant and insert me on § 24 UrhG in connection with Article 5 GG called. This signalizes that one is ready to let the whole legal legal escalate. Who knows, maybe they will then steer by themselves. As you know, tasting is about studying.

Can you make song parodies?