Thanks Vitt! Note, it’s not a law, it’s a provision within the copyright laws and even then, there are
4 factors to determining if fair use even applies.
Examples (to show Joey the nuance):
• A school does a parody of the song, “Jeopardy” by the Greg Kihn Band. They use parody song to make a video against drunk driving to be shown in school. In all likelihood, the school would not be charged with copyright infringement for a myriad of non-legal reasons. However, the Greg Kihn Band could still take the school to court for copyright infringement. “Fair Use” would not prevent the trial from going forward because “Fair Use” has to be proven and argued in a court as it is not a black and white standard (or law). Now, the school would probably be successful in using the “Fair Use” argument to show that the song was used for educational purposes and they did not profit from it to get the charge dropped.
• Using the example above, let’s say the school posts the video to YouTube, monetizes it and it goes viral. Again, the band could take them to court and now the trial would have to determine if the educational purpose of the video does or does not outweigh the money made on the parody video. Also, there is a relativity to the argument so, if they made $100 off the video, they have a stronger argument for “fair use” than if they made $1M off the video.
• Back to Weird Al, even though he COULD argue “fair use” if he were brought to trial, he is smart enough to understand that getting the artist’s permission protects him from having to go to court to prove it in the first place. In fact, if Weird Al didn’t get permission and his parody is more commercially successful than the original, the band could possibly win in a copyright infringement case against him.