The UK YouTube community is getting a thumbs up from from Parliament. Changes to UK copyright law enacted last year will come into effect today, providing greater protection for parodies against copyright claims. That’s good news for YouTubers who until now have had to live with the possibility that their video could be taken down if the original owner of the source material chose to object. The new rules give protection to creators who make parodies as long as those parodies don’t compete with or damage the original source material.
The new rules will bring UK copyright standards into line with those of the rest of the European Union. UK law had previously been lax on protecting the creative freedom of parody artists. For a YouTube creator that means that huge swaths of pop music, television, and movies were simply off limits. YouTubers could face legal penalties and even YouTube suspension for violating copyright through parody. That’s a pretty big creative restriction when you consider that parody is one of the most popular forms of comedy on YouTube. Under the old rules someone like LisBug wouldn’t be able to parody Taylor Swift’s latest single without running the risk of having her video struck down and all her hard work wasted. The same goes for parody stars like Bart Baker and Barely Political’s Key of Awesome series.
There are a couple of limitations built into the new law. Rights holders can still file a copyright claim if the parody contains a dangerous or discriminatory message. In other words, if you try to take a pop video and turn it into Nazi propaganda or an ISIS recruiting vehicle then the owners of the original can still shut you down to prevent their work from being associated with your message. Otherwise, as long as you’re not promoting actual literal evil, all bets are off and the mockery can begin in earnest. We can’t wait to see what our favorite UK creators will make now that the gloves can finally come off.
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