QUESTION OF THE MONTH: Parody and Satire
Hi, I am doing a fiction satire/parody/mockumentary directed against the Churches in general. I have a couple of questions/issues that might fit under "employing copyrighted material as the object of social, political, or cultural critique":
- Can I use photos of "Church signs"(the ones that they use to advertise sermons) that I have photographed from the street?
- Can I parody popular pastor names? Can I have a character named Billy Braham instead of say, Billy Graham?
- Can I use photos of Church buildings taken from the sidewalk?
- Can I use (just enough to prove a point) something like a "Far Side" Cartoon or a "Michaelangelo painting" if it mirrors a sentiment expressed in my film?
- There are various organizations called "Nevada Alliance of Churches", "Texas Alliance of Churches", and "Maryland Alliance of Churches" etc. If I make up a state called Barbezon and make up an organization called "Barbezon Alliance of Churches"(to use in my satire), will I get in trouble?
Thank You for your help,
Parody and satire definitely come under the Fair Use guidelines. There probably are no copyrights in the simple messages on church signs. Moreover, you can freely use any images of buildings you’ve taken of a public place. You can parody names, signs, etc., as long as you aren’t slandering someone or being libelous. From what you’ve described, it isn’t clear whether the filmmakers who created the Statement would deem your use of a Far Side cartoon as fair. Please see the Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use to be clear. Generally speaking, using image or text simply to reinforce your own position may not qualify.
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