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Why do remakes need permission whereas spoofs/parodies don't?

Scary Movie consists of lot of spoofs of other movies, yet they didn't seem to have any permission for that from all those movies. But as you can see in this related example remakes need permissions to be made. So why not parodies?

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  • Parody/spoofs are covered under "fan art". See the lawsuit against the band Aqua by Mattel toys for their song Barbie girl Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 4:58
  • This is more of a copyright/legal question.
    – DA.
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 16:21
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    @DustinDavis technically, fan art is something different entirely. It's typically not protected, but there's usually little reason to pursue legal action against them.
    – DA.
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 16:40

3 Answers 3

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This is a legal question.

At least in the US, parody and satire fall under the fair use umbrella of copyright law.

A remake requires permission if the material being remade is copyrighted. You can't remake Star Wars without permission as the story and characters are protected under copyright and trademark laws.

You could remake a Sherlock Holmes story provided you're remaking one of the original stories that is now out of copyright. You can't remake a newer Sherlock Holmes story as that would still be under copyright.

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  • In other words, you can copy an idea but you can't copy a character. Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 18:01
  • @SystemDown no. What you can or can't copy depends on it's copyright/TM status as well as what you are doing with it (is what you are doing fall into fair use?)
    – DA.
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 18:13
  • It's a loophole used by electronic boardgames makers. "Scrabble" is copyrighted, but the idea of a game where you score with lettered tiles isn't. Thus you have the plethora of Scrabble clones. Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 18:36
  • @SystemDown that's a bit different in that you aren't allowed to copyright/TM game mechanics. It's an odd loophole, for sure, though doesn't really apply in the context of films (or books and the like). The bottom line is that our IP Laws are somewhat inconsistent across the board and always open to interpretation (often via highly paid lawyers).
    – DA.
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 18:43
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    But in the context of film, I suppose the idea of a 'cloned idea' exists as well. Of recent memory would be "Olympus has Fallen" vs. "White House Down". Not a remake or direct copy, but definitely borrowed the same 'game mechanics' :)
    – DA.
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 18:47
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Parody does not need permission because it is protected under "fair use".

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  • Can you elaborate on your answer? Why is parody protected under fair use while remakes are not? Include data from the link you cite in your answer.
    – MattD
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 14:40
  • I would, but I think @DA. has got it covered now :) Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 23:46
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Remakes need permission because they are directly copying the idea. While parodies are in most cases directly opposing to most of the ideas in the movie / books. Furthermore this is a case of freedom of speech. People have the right to say what they want.

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  • This isn't a freedoms of speech issue. It's a copyright issue.
    – DA.
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 16:25

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