Parody versus satire – one is okay and the other can get you in trouble. Gangnam Style video as a teaching tool.

What’s the difference between parody and satire? Which one violates someone’s intellectual property rights?

Umm. I have no idea.

Or at least I didn’t until I read a newsletter from Gammon and Grange, which pointed to Kenneth Liu’s guest post at Forbes:  Parodies of Rap Artist Psy’s Gangnam Style Are Fun. But Are They Legal?

Mr. Liu explains the difference in the context of an amazingly popular video, “Oppa Gangnam Style” and the spoofs that have been made of it.

If I now understand the distinction, parody is making fun of the original work. Satire is taking the original work and through what is called a derivative work, creating something that is criticizing or commenting on something completely unrelated to the original work.

So if you take the song “Oppa Gangnam Style” and show people being silly in sort of the same style as original video in order to comment or highlight or tease or even ridicule the original, that’s okay.

If you were to take the song and use it to criticize/support your most despised/favorite politician that’s a problem. Likewise if you take the song and then comment on a social issue, criticize a business, or discuss a charity, then you are doing satire. And that’s a problem because it violates the intellectual property rights of whoever created the original document.

Parody is protected under intellectual property rights law. Satire is not and will exposure you to potential legal liabilities.

Check out the full article for a great explanation.  It will be well worth your while.

After reading the article and watching three spoofs, I can see another difference between parody and satire.  The parody points you back to the original. It is drawing attention to the original and actually compliments it while poking fun.

I am very untrendy.  If you are like me and need to get caught up on the cultural phenomenon of Gangnam Style, here is the original video:


Here is a funny parody. It’s the baby spoof.  It follows the original down to an overhead shot of a baby during toilet training (perfectly-safe-for-work), a guy in yellow suit arriving in a car to join the dance (only he’s riding a baby-sized push car) and several moms scrubbing the floor as a baby walks past them (still-safe-for-work {I think} ):

Baby Gangnam style has 2.9M views.  There’s also a Gandalf Style (3.6M views), found here –

The original has over 480M views. Yeah, that’s close to half a billion views.

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