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Parody After Deckmyn – A Comparative Overview of the Approach to Parody Under Copyright Law in Belgium, France, Germany and The Netherlands

Abstract

Many EU Member States have a well-established approach with regard to the use of copyright-protected works for the purpose of parody. As a consequence of the CJEU’s Deckmyn decision, in which the Court held that parody is an autonomous concept of EU law and defined that concept, their approach may need to change. This article looks at the criteria developed by various national courts to determine the lawfulness of parodies prior to Deckmyn and at the role these criteria can play after Deckmyn. It will be argued that even though the adaptation right is not explicitly harmonized by the InfoSoc Directive, a parody will in principle constitute a reproduction within the meaning of that directive. In addition, it is submitted that Member States are not free to restrict the scope of the harmonized parody exception by imposing requirements not found in the InfoSoc Directive. Consequently, there is very little margin of discretion left for Member States with regard to the legal treatment of parodies. Nevertheless, most of the “old” criteria can still play a role when determining a fair balance of rights and interests that, according to the CJEU, needs to be maintained when applying the exception. When taking account of the essential characteristics of a parody, as defined by the CJEU, and the fair balance in an overall assessment, the parody exception can act as a flexible exception, allowing a wide array of humorous and critical uses of copyright-protected works.

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Notes

  1. Concise Oxford English Dictionary (2002).

  2. Case C-201/13 Deckmyn and Vrijheidsfonds ECLI:EU:C:2014:2132.

  3. Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society.

  4. See also the study by Mendis and Kretschmer (2013), which looks at the treatment of parodies in the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Australia, Germany, the USA and the Netherlands.

  5. The supreme courts of both Belgium and the Netherlands accepted parodic use prior to the introduction of any exception under certain conditions, much like is still the case in Germany. See Supreme Court of Belgium, 5 April 2001, A&M (2001), p. 400 (L’Avenir Vert; applying the law as it stood before the introduction of the exception) and Supreme Court of the Netherlands, 13 April 1984, NJ (1984), No. 524 (Suske en Wiske).

  6. Art. L. 122-5 section 4.

  7. Art. XI.190 section 10.

  8. Art. 18b.

  9. E.g. Federal Supreme Court, 11 March 1993, Case No. I ZR 263/91, GRUR (1994), pp. 206, 208 – Alcolix.

  10. Schack (2015), para. 279; and Schulze (2015), § 24, para. 25.

  11. Alcolix (supra note 9), GRUR (1994), p. 208.

  12. Ibid.

  13. Federal Supreme Court, 20 March 2003, Case No. I ZR 117/00, GRUR (2003), pp. 956, 958 – Gies-Adler.

  14. Federal Supreme Court, 28 July 2016, Case No. I ZR 9/15, GRUR (2016), p. 1157 – Auf fett getrimmt; for a translation into English of this decision see IIC 48(4) (2017) pp. 474–480, doi:10.1007/s40319-017-0600-3.

  15. De Zwaan (2014), p. 195, with regard to the application of the exception by Dutch courts.

  16. E.g. Federal Supreme Court, 26 March 1971, Case No. I ZR 77/69, GRUR (1971), pp. 588, 589 – Disney-Parodie.

  17. E.g. Court of First Instance of Paris, 3rd Chamber, 7 October 1992 – Les Feuilles Mortes, RIDA 1993-1 (No. 155), p. 222, overturned by Court of Appeal of Paris, 1st Chamber, 11 May 1993 – Les Feuilles Mortes, RIDA 1993-3 (No. 157), p. 340 (concerning an adaptation of the text of the song “Les Feuilles Mortes” to commemorate the passing away of Yves Montand, the song’s most famous performer); Court of Appeal of Versailles, 14th Chamber, 6 November 1998 – Sté Marc Dorcel c. Sté Edgar Rice Burroughs et Sté Mascotte Film AG, RIDA 1999-3 (No. 181), p. 314 (a pornographic adaptation of Tarzan lacked “la vertu humoristique, de dérision ou de polémique”); Court of First Instance of Paris, 11 June 2004 – Moulinsart et Fanny R. c. Eric J., Propr. intell. (2005), p. 55 (pornographic adaptations of Tintin and adaptations showing Tintin using what appear to be drugs were not allowed, being “dénaturations” without humour or derision); Court of First Instance of Breda, 24 June 2005, IER (2005), No. 80 (Gouden Gids; imitation of a commercial for the Dutch Yellow Pages had a competitive instead of humorous intention).

  18. Court of Appeal of Antwerp, 8th Chamber, 11 October 2000, A&M (2001), p. 357 (Pommeke), p. 358. By contrast, cf. Sté Marc Dorcel c. Sté Edgar Rice Burroughs et Sté Mascotte Film AG and Moulinsart et Fanny R. c. Eric J. (both supra note 17).

  19. Court of First Instance of Paris, 3rd Chamber, 14 May 1992 – Michel SARDOU et autres c. André LAMY et autres, RIDA 1992-4 (No. 154), pp. 174, 178 (“le contrôle du Tribunal doit se limiter au genre, et à l’intention qu’André Lamy revendique, abstraction faite du résultat obtenu, concrétisé par la manifestation du rire ou sourire, lesquels sont fonction à la fois du talent de l’artiste et des sensibilités diverses des publics, deux paramètres échappant au pouvoir d’appréciation du Tribunal”).

  20. Court of Appeal of Paris, 1st Chamber, 15 October 1985 – Douces Transes, RIDA 1986-3 (No. 129), pp. 152, 154 (“avoir pour objet de provoquer le rire”), confirmed by Supreme Court of France, 1 Chamber, 12 January 1988 – Douces Transes, RIDA 1988-3 (No. 137), p. 98 (although the French Supreme Court did not explicitly consider the requirement that a parody be humorous); Court of Appeal of Paris, 4th Chamber, 27 November 1990 – Jacobs Suchard France c. Antenne 2, D. (1991), inf. rap. p. 35 (“la recherche de l’effet comique”); Court of First Instance of Paris, 3rd Chamber, 29 November 2000 – BMG Music Pub et autres c. Lancelot Films, RIDA 2001-3 (No. 189), pp. 377, 379 (“il n’apparaît nullement destiné à ridiculiser l’œuvre première mais à faire sourire le spectateur”); Court of First Instance of Paris, 3rd Chamber, 13 February 2001 – SNC Prisma Presse et FEMME c. Charles V., available at: <http://www.legalis.net/spip.php?page=jurisprudence-decision&id_article=77> accessed 19 June 2016 (“La parodie suppose l’intention d’amuser sans nuire.”); Court of Appeal of Paris, 4th Chamber, 1 February 2006 – On a tout essayé, RIDA 2006-4 (No. 210), pp. 376, 377 (“le but de faire rire”); Court of Appeal of Paris, 2nd Chamber, 18 February 2011 – SAS Arconsil c. Moulinsart et Fanny R., available at: <http://actu.dalloz-etudiant.fr/fileadmin/actualites/pdfs/FEVRIER_2012/CA18f_vr2011.pdf> accessed 19 June 2016 (“Avec le dessein de faire rire.”); Court of Appeal of Liège of 6 October 1997, quoted by Supreme Court of Belgium – L’Avenir Vert (supra note 5; “visaient un effet humoristique ou ironique”); Court of First Instance of Ghent, 13 May 2013, A&M (2013), p. 352 (Wittevrongel en csrten/Aspeslag en Cocquyt), p. 354 (“Hoewel humor verbonden is met persoonlijke smaak, kan … afgeleid worden dat de maker gepoogd heeft zijn of haar boodschap op een humoristische manier te brengen. … blijkt de bedoeling om ironie over te brengen”); Court of First Instance of Amsterdam, 3 April 2003, KG (2003), No. 108 (Rowling et al./Uitgeverij Biblos), para. 7 (“Er moet sprake zijn van een humoristische … bedoeling”); Gouden Gids (supra note 17), para. 3.22 (“humoristische bedoelingen”); Court of First Instance of Amsterdam, 22 December 2009, IER (2010), No. 23 (Mercis en Bruna/Punt.nl), para. 4.3 (“De bedoeling van die afbeeldingen is het opwekken van de lachlust”); Court of Appeal of Amsterdam, 13 September 2011, IER (2012), No. 15 (Mercis en Bruna/Punt.nl), para. 4.13 (“de kennelijk humoristische en ironiserende bedoeling”).

  21. Court of Appeal of Versailles, 1st Chamber, 17 March 1994 – Agent Judiciaire du Trésor et autres c. Sté Philip Morris, RIDA 1995-2 (No. 164), pp. 350, 352.

  22. Jacobs Suchard France c. Antenne 2 (supra note 20). See also SNC Prisma Presse et FEMME c. Charles V. (supra note 20; reproduction of pictures from and part of the website of the magazine “FEMME” with the addition of humorous captions in order to promote the operating system LINUX was not allowed); and Court of First Instance of Paris, 1st Chamber, 30 April 1997 – Pagnol c. Sté Vog, not published (recreation of movie stills to show off products of fashion not allowed).

  23. Gouden Gids (supra note 17). Cf. also Court of First Instance of Haarlem, 26 June 2001, KG (2001), No. 207 (imitation of a commercial was considered unfair competition).

  24. Court of First Instance of Brussels, 14th Chamber, 8 October 1996, A&M (1997), p. 71 (HUMO; use of adapted Tintin covers by the publication “HUMO” not allowed); Court of First Instance of Brussels, 14th Chamber, 29 June 1999, A&M (1999), p. 435 (Michel Vaillant; use of the name Michel Vaillant in radio commercials for a go-karting operator not allowed); Court of First Instance of Antwerp, 12 May 2005, A&M (2005), p. 304 (Mercis en Bruna/Code; use of the character Miffy (Nijntje) on the front page of the publication Deng not allowed), appeal rejected by Court of Appeal of Antwerp, 2 May 2006, Mediaforum (2006), p. 201 (Mercis en Bruna/Code); Court of Appeal of Ghent, 7th Chamber, 2 January 2011, A&M (2011), p. 327 (De Bevere-Blanckaert en Lucky Comics/Dedecker e.a.; use of Lucky Luke to promote a political party not allowed). By contrast, the Court of Appeal of Hamburg allowed a parodic depiction of the Smurfs on the front of the one-time publication “hui”, which was intended as a parody of the adult male magazine “Lui” (Court of Appeal of Hamburg, 17 November 1988, ZUM (1989), p. 305).

  25. De Bevere-Blanckaert en Lucky Comics/Dedecker e.a. (supra note 24).

  26. Court of Appeal of Frankfurt, 25 April 1995, ZUM (1996), pp. 97, 99. See also District Court of Berlin, 13 December 1972, GRUR (1974), pp. 231, 232 (song text used “um sich die Eigenart und Berühmtheit des Refrains für seine Ziele zunutze zu machen”).

  27. SAS Arconsil c. Moulinsart et Fanny R. (supra note 20). See also BMG Music Pub et autres c. Lancelot Films (supra note 20; allowing parodic use of song in a movie); and Court of First Instance of The Hague, 4 May 2011, IER (2011) No. 39 (Plesner/Louis Vuitton; parodic use of the image of a Louis Vuitton bag cannot be prevented by enforcing design rights, taking into consideration the circumstance that the use was not purely commercial). Cf. also Court of Appeal of Paris, 4th Chamber, 9 September 1998 (discussed by Mendis and Kretschmer (2013), p. 19), allowing a parody of a character used to advertise cleaning products, intended for sale on T-shirts. The court allowed the parody even though, in the opinion of the court, the use profited from the notoriety of the character. There is obviously a grey area between commercialization of the parody and use of a parody to commercialize something else. A court will need to determine which is the dominant use. Understood this way, the use of a T-shirt as a vehicle to sell the parody was probably rightly allowed.

  28. Douces Transes (supra note 20; “reproduire la musique originale de sorte que l’œuvre parodiée est immédiatement identifiée tandis que le travestissement des seules paroles suffit à réaliser celui de cette œuvre prise dans son ensemble et à empêcher toute confusion”). See further Supreme Court of France, 1st Chamber, 27 March 1990, Bull. Civ. I, No. 75 (an infringement of the author’s moral rights cannot be justified by invoking the parody exception in case of a risk of confusion); as well as Court of First Instance of Paris in Les Feuilles Mortes (supra note 17 and accompanying text); Moulinsart et Fanny R. c. Eric J. (supra note 17; use of Tintin characters on, among other things, postcards not allowed because of a risk of confusion); and SNC Prisma Presse et FEMME c. Charles V. (supra notes 20 and 22; see also infra note 37).

  29. See in particular Pommeke (supra note 18; a pornographic adaptation of the comic book series “Jommeke” was not allowed although there was no risk of confusion); Court of Appeal of Antwerp in Mercis en Bruna/Code (supra note 24 and accompanying text; use of the Miffy character created confusion in the mind of the public, one reason why it was not allowed); Gouden Gids (supra note 17 and note 23 and accompanying text; parody of Yellow Pages commercial created confusion); and the Courts of First Instance and Appeal of Amsterdam in Mercis en Bruna/Punt.nl (supra note 20; parodic use of Miffy character created no confusion and was allowed).

  30. Haedicke (2015), p. 666, with further references. On the situation “post-Deckmyn”, see infra note 156 and accompanying text.

  31. This is also a potential consideration in the Netherlands. See infra note 58.

  32. Supreme Court of France – Douces Transes, p. 99 (supra note 20; “se moquer le cas échéant avec insolence des travers de celui qui est imité”).

  33. BMG Music Pub et autres c. Lancelot Films, p. 379 (supra note 20; “l’adaptation litigieuse … ne traduit aucune intention de nuire ni de détourner le public de l’œuvre première”); On a tout essayé, p. 377 (supra note 20; “il n’est pas démontré … que [la parodie] ait été réalisé dans l’intention de nuire”); Agent Judiciaire du Trésor et autres c. Sté Philip Morris, p. 352 (supra note 21; “il n’est pas possible de voir une quelconque intention de nuire”); De Bevere-Blanckaert en Lucky Comics/Dedecker e.a. (supra note 24), p. 329 (“de parodie mag niet gecrëeerd zijn met de loutere of hoofdzakelijke intentie of het opzet om het originele werk te schaden”); and Court of First Instance of Brussels, 19 March 1999, A&M (1999), p. 373 (KBVM et al./LS Music en Deloyelle), p. 374 (“er zijn geen elementen waaruit zou blijken dat er een bedoeling was om schade te berokkenen aan de auteurs”).

  34. See Pommeke (supra note 18 and accompanying text), Mercis en Bruna/Code and Michel Vaillant (both supra note 24).

  35. Auf fett getrimmt (supra note 14). See further Sects. 5.2 and 5.3, below.

  36. The artistic appropriation of three fashion photographs by painter Peter Klasen could not be a parody according to the Court of Appeal of Paris, 1st Chamber – Malka c. Klasen, available at: <http://artdroit.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/CA-Paris-18-sept.-2013.pdf> accessed 19 June 2016. Klasen had taken part of the photos and incorporated them in paintings, merely changing the colour. The court: “[L]es utilisations litigieuses ne suffisent pas à caractériser l’existence d’une démarche artistique relevant de la parodie alors que Peter KLASEN a en fait conservé les représentations du visage du mannequin dans une pose inchangée, sans la priver de leur impact attirant voulu par son auteur, les confrontant seulement à d’autres représentations décalées, généralement d’objets, permettant de s’interroger sur la pertinence de l’attraction induite par l’œuvre première”. See also Supreme Court of France, 1st Chamber, 3 June 1997, Bulletin (1997) I, No. 184, p. 123 (the court of appeal did not violate the law by not applying the parody exception since there was no modification or distortion of the original); Court of First Instance of Maastricht, 18 September 2006, ECLI:NL:RBMAA:2006:AY8784 (St. Nicholas Music/Get Nosed et al.; use of “Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer” on a liquor bottle not allowed); Court of First Instance of Northern-Netherlands, 18 November 2014, ECLI:NL:RBNNE:2014:6095 (use of a cartoon in the background of a satirical YouTube video not allowed). Note that the unaltered use of a musical composition with altered lyrics has been allowed by the Supreme Court of France – Douces Transes (supra note 20 and accompanying text). This is explicitly prohibited in Germany by Sec. 24(2) UrhG.

  37. Cf. Moulinsart et Fanny R. c. Eric J. (supra notes 17 and 28); and SNC Prisma Presse et FEMME c. Charles V. (supra notes 20 and 22; “ce risque [de confusion] existe puisque le site incriminé reproduit intégralement et sans modification l’architecture et les codes informatiques du site des demanderesses, les photos, textes et présentations du journal “FEMME” allant même jusqu’à indiquer le nom des journalistes sans aucun travestissement ou modification ainsi que la page de garde”).

  38. Court of Appeal of Amsterdam in Mercis en Bruna/Punt.nl (supra note 20), para. 4.13.

  39. Court of First Instance of Amsterdam, 22 December 2006, AMI (2007), p. 62 (Staat der Nederlanden/Greenpeace). See also Plesner/Louis Vuitton (supra note 27); and German Federal Supreme Court, 13 April 2000, Case No. I ZR 282/97, GRUR (2000), p. 703 – Mattscheibe (see infra note 42 and accompanying text). In a Dutch case about a set of Miffy parodies the court of first instance considered that two of the alleged parodies kept “insufficient distance from the word and figurative marks” and did not constitute a lawful parody, granting an injunction, albeit on trademark grounds (see Mercis en Bruna/Punt.nl; supra note 20, para. 4.9). This decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal of Amsterdam (Mercis en Bruna/Punt.nl, supra note 20), which rejected both the copyright and trademark claims brought. The court took into account that the additions of text and other pictorial elements created sufficient distance to the original (para. 4.13). See further about this case Sects. 2.2 (viii) and 5.2.

  40. See Wittevrongel en csrten/Aspeslag en Cocquyt (supra note 20 and infra note 57); Court of First Instance of Antwerp in Mercis en Bruna/Code (supra note 24); and De Bevere-Blanckaert en Lucky Comics/Dedecker e.a. (supra note 24). This requirement is also tied to the criterion that there is no risk of confusion. See Court of Appeal in Mercis en Bruna/Code (supra note 24), p. 202 (“[de parodie] mag enkel de uiterlijke en strikt noodzakelijke elementen aan het werk ontlenen zodat er geen verwarring mogelijk is met het geparodieerde werk”). See in a case in which the law from before 1994 was applicable L’Avenir Vert (supra note 5; “la loi … n’interdit pas, dans la mesure nécessaire pour atteindre l’effet recherché …, la [parodie]”).

  41. Supreme Court of the Netherlands, 13 April 1984, NJ (1984), No. 524 (Suske en Wiske). In Germany this requirement was believed to follow from Disney-Parodie (supra note 16). See for instance Court of Appeal of Munich, 4 July 1991, ZUM (1992), pp. 252, 255 (refusing to see several alleged parodies of Asterix and Obelix as free use since more elements than necessary had been used); Court of Appeal of Munich, 26 September 1991, ZUM (1992), p. 202 (an alleged parody of a song was not allowed since it borrowed more identical elements from the original than necessary); and Local Court of Hamburg, 8 October 191, ZUM (1993), pp. 549, 551 (a parody of Donald Duck as Rambo was allowed, since no more elements than necessary were borrowed).

  42. Mattscheibe (supra note 39). The parody introduced only very minor alterations to the footage taken. In the opening sequence the indication “commercial transmission” (Werbesendung) was covered by the words “idiot transmission” (Idioten-Sendung). Otherwise the segment was shown without alterations. Nevertheless, there was free use since the segment shown was followed with a satirical sequence, mocking the original show. It should be noted that in German doctrine the decision by the Supreme Court is not necessarily seen as a change of course and that the requirement that the use be necessary was never formulated by the Court in the first place. See Arz (2013), p. 358, including further references. See also German Federal Supreme Court, 20 December 2007, Case No. I ZR 42/05, GRUR (2008), p. 693 – TV Total, in which borrowing by one television show from another was not allowed, since the later show intended to show the earlier segment only for its own humorous qualities, without adding anything of its own.

  43. Court of Appeal of Munich, 23 October 1997, ZUM-RD (1998), p. 124.

  44. See, with regard to American fair use, for instance the discussion between Posner (1992) and Merges (1993).

  45. De Bevere-Blanckaert en Lucky Comics/Dedecker e.a. (supra note 24), p. 329. See also Pommeke (supra note 18 and accompanying text); HUMO (supra note 24); Michel Vaillant (supra note 24); the Courts of First Instance and Appeal in Mercis en Bruna/Code (supra note 24) and KBVM et al./LS Music en Deloyelle (supra note 33; a parody of a song was allowed since it not only mocked outside events but also made a humorous and original version of the earlier text). Alternatively, parodic use for a political purpose was allowed in Wittevrongel en csrten/Aspeslag en Cocquyt (supra notes 20 and 57), since it also directed its criticism at the views of the photographer. See also L’Avenir Vert (supra note 5), confirming a decision by the Court of Appeal of Liège which had held that the satirical publication L’Avenir Vert (The Green Future), imitating the newspaper Vers l’Avenir (Towards the Future) was allowed since it intended to criticize the original publication and also met the other criteria for a lawful parody. See the critical case comment by Michaux in A&M (2001), p. 400, who questions whether Vers l’Avenir was indeed the target of the satire.

  46. Court of First Instance of Amsterdam (para. 4.3) and Court of Appeal of Amsterdam (para. 4.8) in Mercis en Bruna/Punt.nl (both supra note 20).

  47. Staat der Nederlanden/Greenpeace (supra note 39 and accompanying text).

  48. Court of First Instance of Paris – Les Feuilles Mortes (supra note 17). Cf. also SAS Arconsil c. Moulinsart et Fanny R. (supra note 20).

  49. Court of Appeal of Paris – Les Feuilles Mortes (supra note 17 and accompanying text). Cf. also BMG Music Pub et autres c. Lancelot Films (supra note 20).

  50. Supra note 14 and accompanying text.

  51. German Federal Supreme Court, 15 November 1957, Case No. I ZR 83/56, GRUR (1958), pp. 354, 356; and Disney-Parodie (supra note 16), GRUR (1971), p. 589.

  52. Gies-Adler (supra note 13), paras. 26–7.

  53. German Federal Supreme Court, 11 March 1993, Case No. I ZR 264/91, GRUR (1994), p. 191 – Asterix-Persiflagen; Alcolix (supra note 9).

  54. Asterix-Persiflagen (supra note 53), GRUR (1994), pp. 204–5.

  55. The Court does seem to indicate the caricature creates a contrast to Asterix and Obelix (“Zugleich werden die Comic-Gestalten selbst in einem anderen Licht gezeigt.”; Asterix-Persiflagen (supra note 53), GRUR (1994), pp. 204–5). Both this decision and the one in the Gies-Adler case (supra note 13) have been criticized for expanding the scope of free use beyond use that targets the original work itself (Arz (2013), pp. 367–8).

  56. Asterix-Persiflagen (supra note 53), GRUR (1994), pp. 192–3.

  57. Cf. for instance, On a tout essayé (supra note 20; allowing the use in a television show of a photograph in which the head of the subject had been replaced by one of another person for comic effect); Wittevrongel en csrten/Aspeslag en Cocquyt, in particular para. 16 (supra note 20; allowing the parodic use of a photograph to mock the political views of the politician depicted as well as those of the photographer).

  58. Court of Appeal of Amsterdam (Mercis en Bruna/Punt.nl; supra note 20), para. 4.16, confirming (in part) Court of First Instance of Amsterdam (Mercis en Bruna/Punt.nl; supra note 20), para. 4.5, which had held the same. Personality interests are therefore taken into account in the application of the exception itself.

  59. The court of appeal did note that some parodies referred to in some of the briefs in the case (but not at issue) did appear to violate the rules of social custom.

  60. One of these parodies, along with the original on which it is based, is copied in Sect. 5.2.

  61. Alcolix (supra note 9), para. 25, which makes sense in light of the German monist tradition. Similarly, in its post-Deckmyn decision Auf fett getrimmt (supra note 14), the German Federal Supreme Court held that potential harm to the personality interests of the author should be taken into account in determining whether the parody respects a fair balance between the rights and interests of the author and the parodist. See further infra note 157 and accompanying text.

  62. Although in France the avoidance of a risk of confusion is more closely tied to potential harm to the economic interests of the author. Lucas et al. (2013), para. 447; and Pollaud-Dulian (2014), para. 1228.

  63. Cf. Lucas et al. (2013), para. 448.

  64. Court of First Instance of Antwerp in Mercis en Bruna/Code (supra note 24), p. 305 (“Vermits het geen parodie betreft … is het moreel recht van de tweede eisende partij zeker ook geschonden”), confirmed by the Court of Appeal of Antwerp in Mercis en Bruna/Code (supra note 24), p. 203 (“De beweerde parodie beperkt zich niet tot een humoristische-kritische benadering van de auteursrechtelijke figuur. Door de denigrerende voorstelling wordt geïntimeerde sub 2 in zijn eer en reputatie geschaad”). The court of first instance noted that the use was not original and merely intended to free ride on the fame of Miffy. The court of appeal added that there was an intention to create a humorous contrast to the original work and that the use created confusion. See also HUMO (supra note 24).

  65. Art. 5(3)(k).

  66. Paras. 14–17.

  67. Para. 20.

  68. Para. 21.

  69. Para. 26 et seq.

  70. Para. 31.

  71. Jacques (2015), p. 137; Mylly (2015), p. 123; and Rosati (2015), p. 103.

  72. Haedicke (2015), p. 669.

  73. Voorhoof (2014a), p. 299, although Voorhoof notes that the right to object seems so far limited to parodies with a “discriminatory message”.

  74. Jacques (2015), p. 137; and Mylly (2015), p. 123.

  75. Geiger et al. (2015), p. 99 (§30); Griffiths et al. (2015), p. 129; and Haedicke (2015), p. 668.

  76. de Cock Buning and van Lingen (2014), p. 192; Geiger et al. (2015), p. 99 (§29); and Griffiths et al. (2015), pp. 129–30.

  77. de Cock Buning and van Lingen (2014), p. 192.

  78. I will use the term “adaptations” as a catch-all for all concepts close to adaptation, such as translation, arrangement and alterations.

  79. Art. 4(b) of Directive 2009/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the legal protection of computer programs (Codified version) and Art. 5(b) of Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases.

  80. I focus solely on the InfoSoc Directive, although it is not the only directive to harmonize exclusive rights. See Council Directive 93/83/EEC of 27 September 1993 on the coordination of certain rules concerning copyright and rights related to copyright applicable to satellite broadcasting and cable retransmission, Directive 2006/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on rental right and lending right and on certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property (Codified version) and Directive 2009/24/EC (supra note 79).

  81. Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, Paris Act of July 24, 1971, as amended on September 28, 1979.

  82. Art. 9.

  83. Art. 12.

  84. Ricketson and Ginsburg (2005), para. 11.34.

  85. Cf. for instance idem, para. 8.75; and Schack (2015), para. 268.

  86. Ricketson and Ginsburg (2005), para. 11.36.

  87. Art. L122-1 in conjunction with L122-4 of the Code de la propriété intellectuelle.

  88. Art. XI.165(1) of the Wetboek van economisch recht.

  89. Art. 13 of the Auteurswet 1912.

  90. Art. 16(1)(e) Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. In fact, Hugenholtz et al. (2006), p. 53, note that most Member States accord to authors a separate adaptation right.

  91. Sec. 23 UrhG.

  92. See the second sentence of Sec. 23 UrhG.

  93. Sec. 16 UrhG.

  94. Cf. Schrader and Weber (2011), p. 506; and Spoor (1980), pp. 21–3.

  95. Federal Supreme Court, May 5, 2013, Case No. I ZR 28/12, GRUR (2014), p. 65 – Beuys-Aktion, para. 36, with a critical case comment by Elmenhorst.

  96. Idem, para. 37.

  97. See Federal Supreme Court, November 19, 1971, Case No. I ZR 31/70, GRUR (1972), pp. 143, 144 – Biografie: Ein Spiel. See also Beuys-Aktion (supra note 95), para. 38: the overall impression of the original and adaptation should be the same, taking into account the borrowed creative features.

  98. E.g. Beuys-Aktion (supra note 95), para. 37.

  99. There are exceptions. See Sect. 2.2, in particular note 39 and accompanying text.

  100. This ignores potential parodies of databases or through the alteration of the code of a computer program, which are covered by the adaptation rights harmonized by the Database and Software Directives. Since these parodies will likely constitute a minority of cases I will leave them for what they are in this contribution.

  101. Hugenholtz and Senftleben (2011), p. 26, with further references. For more references, see Rosati (2014), p. 20 (note 108).

  102. One commentator has wondered how a parody can at the same time be humorous and substantially different from the original, yet not display “a modicum degree of originality” (Rosati (2015), p. 103), while others considered that if originality were required, we would miss many parodies (Kuitert and Klomp (2014), p. 189).

  103. European Commission Green Paper of 27 July 1995 on Copyright and Related Rights in the Information Society (Brussels, 19 July 1995, COM(95) 382 final), pp. 50–51. See Rosati (2014), p. 21.

  104. Rosati (2014), p. 21.

  105. Case 5/08 Infopaq International, ECLI:EU:C:2009:465, para. 39.

  106. Opinion of Advocate General Trstenjak in Case C-145/10 Painer, ECLI:EU:C:2011:239, para. 129. The CJEU did not address the question whether the modified photo was covered by the reproduction right. Alternatively, in his Opinion in Case C-419/13 Art & Allposters International BV, ECLI:EU:C:2014:2214, para. 56, Cruz Villalón asserted that the InfoSoc Directive does not cover the adaptation right.

  107. Some other, final arguments against harmonization are that adaptations implicate moral rights, which have not been harmonized, and that harmonization of adaptations can only occur alongside harmonization of protected subject-matter (Hugenholtz et al. (2006), pp. 53–4). The latter issue has been invalidated by the Infopaq decision and subsequent case law of the CJEU (see Rosati (2013), in particular chapters 3 and 4; and Leistner (2014), p. 561 et seq.). The argument that moral rights have not been harmonized is unconvincing, since it merely implies a further discretion of national legislators. Moreover, if any use of subject-matter liable to implicate moral rights was to be kept outside the scope of the directive, the parody exception would likely have been left out altogether.

  108. E.g. P&C, para. 30.

  109. Cf. Luksan, para. 59.

  110. Von Lewinski (2008), para. 5.125. See also Ricketson and Ginsburg (2005), para. 11.35 et seq., in particular para. 11.37.

  111. E.g. Infopaq (supra note 105), para. 43.

  112. See for a discussion, for instance, Derclaye (2014); Kallinikou (2012); and Leistner (2014).

  113. In fact, many Member States do not have an explicit copyright exception. For an overview see Triaille and Coppens (2013), pp. 476 et seq.

  114. Cf. Lucas et al. (2013), para. 349; and Leistner (2014), p. 586.

  115. Referred to in the English translation of the Opinion as “fair practices”. Opinion of Advocate General Cruz Villalón in Case C-201/13 Deckmyn and Vrijheidsfonds, ECLI:EU:C:2014:458, paras. 30–31 and 42.

  116. See the Preamble to the InfoSoc Directive, in particular Recitals 7, 31 and 32. See, to that effect, Case C-435/12 ACI Adam and Others, ECLI:EU:C:2014:254, para. 34.

  117. Art. 5(2)(d) allows Member States to make an exception to the reproduction right “in respect of ephemeral recordings of works made by broadcasting organisations by means of their own facilities and for their own broadcasts”.

  118. Case C-510/10 DR and TV2 Danmark, ECLI:EU:C:2012:244, para. 36.

  119. Similarly, Geiger et al. (2015), p. 97; Griffiths et al. (2015), p. 128; Rosati (2014), p. 17; and Rosati (2015), p. 103.

  120. Similarly, Jacques (2015), p. 136.

  121. Deckmyn and Vrijheidsfonds (supra note 2), para. 20. Cf. also Jacques (2015), note 19, who points out that it is not completely clear whether “expression” refers to the humorous effect or the intent of the parodist.

  122. Voorhoof has noted lack of humour is hardly ever a stumbling block, leaving a noticeable difference as the only meaningful criterion (Voorhoof (2006), pp. 159–60; Voorhoof (2014a), p. 298; Voorhoof (2014b), p. 183).

  123. Cf. Rosati (2015), p. 103. Baden-Powell and Althoff (2015), p. 17, are in my opinion therefore wrong to suggest that the criterion should be understood “by reference to local traditions of comedy”. Equally, it should not matter at whom the humour is targeted. Court of Appeal of Amsterdam, 6 November 2003, IER (2004), No. 20 (Rowling et al./Uitgeverij Biblos), para. 4.7.9.3, considered that parodic expression targeted at Russians was of no importance. This was rightly criticized as a “provincial attitude” towards the parody exception by Klomp (2006), p. 70.

  124. Cf. Jacques (2015), p. 136; Grosheide (2014), p. 203; and AG Cruz Villalón in his Opinion in Deckmyn (supra note 115), para. 68.

  125. A striking example is the book “The Wind Done Gone” by Alice Randall, a critical re-telling of the classic “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit lifted an injunction prohibiting distribution of the book, ruling that a likely outcome in full proceedings on the merits would be a finding of fair use (Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin Co., 252 F.3d, p. 1165 (11th Cir. 2001). Cf. Kuitert and Klomp (2014), pp. 189–90.

  126. The rejection of the element of confusion is at least somewhat remarkable since it is intimately linked to the question whether the parody is sufficiently different or a simple copy. See supra note 37 and accompanying text. See also Jacques (2015), p. 136, who calls a lack of confusion the “essence of parody”. In Sect. 5.2 it will be proposed that a lack of confusion can be taken into account when assessing a parody’s compatibility with moral rights.

  127. E.g. Disney-Parodie (supra note 16), GRUR (1971), p. 589; and Alcolix (supra note 9), GRUR (1994), p. 209. In its post-Deckmyn decision Auf fett getrimmt (supra note 14), para. 33, the Court maintains this standard.

  128. See for examples Sect. 2.2 (v) and (vi).

  129. Cf. De Zwaan (2006), p. 93 et seq.; and De Zwaan (2014), pp. 197–8.

  130. For instance, because the use does not meet the strict criteria that are commonly applied, such as that the use must be without any modification and provide some form of interaction with the part quoted. Cf. Pollaud-Dulian (2014), para. 1208 et seq.; and Schack (2015), para. 545 et seq. See also the Opinion of AG Trstenjak in Painer (supra note 106), para. 210. It must be noted that it is arguably the CJEU that should determine the scope of the concept of “quotation” since, like parody, it can be considered an autonomous concept of EU law.

  131. Cf. Visser in his case note to the Court of Appeal of Amsterdam decision in Mercis en Bruna/Punt.nl (supra note 20), AMI (2012), p. 33, agreeing with Sakulin in his case note to the same (Mediaforum (2012), p. 35). In a way this is recognized by the German position, allowing as freie Benutzung uses which create sufficient “inner distance”.

  132. A fitting term used by the court in St. Nicholas Music/Get Nosed et al. (supra note 36), para. 3.4.2, used when the contrast is created by something external.

  133. See supra, Sect. 2.2(ii).

  134. This also seems to follow from the general consideration of the CJEU with regard to a “fair balance”, in particular paras. 26–28.

  135. A first intuition may point to the right to intellectual property as protected in Art. 17(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (and Art. 1 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms). So far this provision has mainly featured in cases concerning the enforcement of rights actually granted to authors. It is unclear, and arguably unlikely, that Art. 17 also guarantees a certain level of protection. See, for instance, Mylly (2005), pp. 206–7; Geiger (2009), p. 116; Ohly (2013), p. 151; and Griffiths and McDonagh (2013), pp. 80–81. See, however, Case C-160/15 GS Media v Sanoma, ECLI:EU:C:2016:644, para. 31, in which the CJEU seems to indicate that the level of protection offered by the InfoSoc Directive should maintain a fair balance between the right to intellectual property protected by Art. 17(2) and the rights and interests of users. The Court did not offer any genuine insight into what is exactly required by “the interests of copyright holders and related rights in protecting their intellectual property rights”.

  136. And by its prior incarnation, the “Court of Justice”.

  137. Cf. with regard to copyright’s specific subject-matter, Joined Cases C-403/08 and C-429/08 Football Association Premier League and Others, ECLI:EU:C:2011:631, para. 107, with further references to the Court’s earlier case law and with regard to the purpose of the InfoSoc Directive, Football Association Premier League and Others, para. 186; Case C-306/05 SGAE, ECLI:EU:C:2006:764, para. 36; Case C-393/09 Bezpečnostní softwarová asociace, ECLI:EU:C:2010:816, para. 54; Case C-607/11 ITV Broadcasting, ECLI:EU:C:2013:147, para. 20; Case C-351/12 OSA, ECLI:EU:C:2014:110, para. 23; Case C-151/15 Sociedade Portuguesa de Autores, ECLI:EU:C:2015:468, para. 12; and GS Media v Sanoma (supra note 135), para. 30. See Von Ungern-Sternberg (2012), pp. 1199–1200, reaching a similar conclusion as to the general interest of the author protected by (European) copyright law according to the CJEU. See also Recital 10 in the Preamble to the InfoSoc Directive.

  138. Whether the three-step test is directed merely to the national legislatures or also to the national courts; Arnold and Rosati (2015) convincingly argue that the latter is the case. See also the Opinion of AG Cruz Villalón in Deckmyn (supra note 115), para. 29.

  139. Cf. Arnold and Rosati (2015), p. 1200.

  140. Ibid. See also as regards the idea of a normative interpretation particularly of the second step, Ginsburg (2001), pp. 49–53.

  141. See Geiger et al. (2008); Koelman (2006), p. 410; Senftleben (2010), para. 11 et seq.; and Senftleben (2013), p. 38.

  142. See for examples supra, Sect. 2.2 (v) and (vi).

  143. Court of Appeal of Amsterdam in Mercis en Bruna/Punt.nl (supra notes 20 and 39). Cf. Sakulin in his case note to the decision, arguing that the right to freedom of expression obliges us to look at the content of the expression, rather than at its form (Sakulin (2012), p. 35).

  144. As opposed to “target” parodies, which target the underlying work instead of using it as a weapon to criticize something different. See supra, Sect. 2.2 (vii).

  145. Auf fett getrimmt (supra note 14), paras. 34–5. About this criterion, see supra, Sect. 2.2 (vii).

  146. Idem, para. 38. The parody concerned a digitally altered photograph ridiculing the actress in the photo by making her appear overweight.

  147. The Court notes in para. 38 that the balance is more likely to tip in favour of freedom of expression when the parody targets the original work itself.

  148. E.g. Staat der Nederlanden/Greenpeace (supra note 39); and Plesner/Louis Vuitton (supra note 27).

  149. For similar reasoning in trademark law, see, for instance, Case C-228/03 Gillette Company and Gillette Group Finland, ECLI:EU:C:2005:177, para. 49. Here the CJEU held that use of a trademark as an indication of purpose was not in accordance with “honest practices”, which constitutes “the expression of a duty to act fairly in relation to the legitimate interests of the trade mark owner”, if it gives an impression of a commercial link between the parties, if it affects the value of the mark or takes unfair advantage of its distinctive character, if it discredits or denigrates the mark, or if the product is presented as an imitation or replica. Of course, one should understand this judgment in light of its trademark context.

  150. For instance, by the granting of licences, which is recognized by the CJEU as being an essential element of the exploitation of the work. See Football Association Premier League and Others (supra note 137), para. 107, with further references to the Court’s earlier case law.

  151. See with regard to the protection afforded by the European Court of Human Rights to various types of expression, Clayton and Tomlinson (2009), paras. 15.292–15.293. See also Metall auf Metall (infra note 153 and accompanying text), para. 108, discussed below, where the Court indicates that the balance is likely to tip the other way where artistic freedom is not at stake.

  152. Federal Constitutional Court, 29 June 2000, 1 BvR 825/98 – Germania 3, paras. 18–24 (English translation by E. Adeney and C. Antons published in (2013) 35 EIPR, p. 646).

  153. Federal Constitutional Court, 31 May 2016, 1 BvR 1585/13 – Metall auf Metall (para. 81 et seq.).

  154. See recital 19 in the Preamble to the InfoSoc Directive.

  155. Cf., for Germany, Specht and Koppermann (2016), p. 24.

  156. Cf. ibid.; and Spence (1998), pp. 614–15.

  157. Auf fett getrimmt (supra note 14), para. 38.

  158. Idem, para. 39.

  159. Decision of the European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section), case of Ashby Donald and others v. France, Appl. No. 36769/08 of 10 January 2013; and Decision of the European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section), case of Fredrik Neij and Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi (The Pirate Bay) v. Sweden, Appl. No. 40397/12 of 19 February 2013.

  160. Voorhoof (2014a), p. 299.

  161. Van Besien (2015), p. 190. See also Fischman Afori (2014).

  162. In particular, the strict demand that a parody be original, target the original work and not use more than necessary cannot be maintained.

  163. The only requirement that has arguably been rendered irrelevant is the originality requirement.

  164. Cf. Art. 6(2)(a) of Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market and amending Council Directive 84/450/EEC, Directives 97/7/EC, 98/27/EC and 2002/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Regulation (EC) No. 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council.

  165. The copyright laws of Austria and Portugal also contain a general free use provision. The Nordic countries consider parodies as new, independent works that do not require authorization by the right holder. See Westkamp (2007), p. 45. Beyond parody the continued application of doctrines like free use does expose a(nother) large terra incognita in European copyright law, in particular if one accepts that the InfoSoc Directive also extends to adaptations in the broadest sense of the word: where lies the boundary between a reproduction that requires the permission of the right holder and free, independent and new uses? It will be up to the CJEU to provide guidance. Cf. Leistner (2014), p. 566.

  166. Auf fett getrimmt (supra note 14), para. 24.

  167. Ibid. See for some German commentators arguing the same prior to Auf fett getrimmt, Haedicke (2015), p. 670; Lauber-Rönsberg (2015), p. 665; Specht and Koppermann (2016), p. 23; and Unseld (2014), p. 915.

  168. Idem, para. 28.

  169. Idem, paras. 25 and 30.

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Acknowledgements

The author is very grateful to Professor Martin Senftleben (VU Amsterdam) and Professor Nari Lee (Hanken School of Economics), as well as two anonymous reviewers, for their insightful comments on an earlier draft. During the time of writing the author’s research was funded by the Hanken Support Foundation and the Finnish Cultural Foundation.

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Jongsma, D. Parody After Deckmyn – A Comparative Overview of the Approach to Parody Under Copyright Law in Belgium, France, Germany and The Netherlands. IIC 48, 652–682 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40319-017-0619-5

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Keywords

  • Adaptation right
  • Deckmyn
  • Fair balance
  • Freie Benutzung
  • Parody