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WebWise news report - The right to spoof

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Hajar Javaheri Hajar Javaheri | 15:39 UK time, Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Spoofs of songs and tv clips spread like wildfire across the web, and you may receive links in your inbox directing you to a funny short video that pokes fun at celebrities or the latest number one single.

But these seemingly harmless bits of fun can see the creators facing legal action from the big businesses behind the originals. As hits mount and the clip goes viral, those being spoofed could cite infringement of copyright to deter sites from hosting such content.

Take the song 'Newport state of mind' for example. This was a Welsh spoof of the Jay Z and Alicia Keys hit 'New York', and racked up millions of views worldwide before EMI Music Publishing Ltd got involved and asked it be removed. Despite different lyrics, singers and scenery, the song was essentially a rewrite for which prior permission hadn't been obtained from the publishing company.

But this could all change if the UK takes on recommendations made in an independent report by Professor Ian Hargreaves, which proposes an overhaul of copyright laws for the digital age, including allowing the use of copyright material for parody.

This seems like good news for online entertainers, but could it see us entering a whole new sticky area of copyright, where lawyers argue over the definition of parody and whether the original artists are being exploited?

For more on the recommendations in the Hargreaves report, read the full story on BBC News.

There's also a great piece on 'Newport state of mind' on the BBC Wales Music blog: BBC Wales Music.

Hajar is part of the WebWise production team and has also made award-winning programmes for BBC Radio. In her spare time she loves reading, writing and singing.

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