Under title 17 of the United States Code Annotated Section 107, Limitations on Exclusive Rights, it states the purposes by which a work will not be considered copyright infringement. The fair use of copyrighted work consists of work for the purpose of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research. There are four factors that have to be considered in order to establish the use of copyrighted material as fair use, those factors include–
1.) The purpose and character of the intended use, is it for commercial use or for nonprofit educational purposes;
2.) The nature of the work, on both sides;
3.) The amount and substance of the copyrighted material used; and
4.) The market impact and profit.
After considering the four factors, we have to analyze and balance which side the factors favor the most. The changes done to the copyrighted work have to be significant enough to change the meaning of the original work. The new work has to be original and not derivative. If the final result is aesthetically different from the original then it will be considered acceptable under the fair use argument.
Let us apply the four factors to the literal version you created for Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” First, the purpose and character of your version is parody. On this factor alone, I believe the balancing scale is in their favor. I am going to assume that the purpose and character behind the remake is to bring humor to an otherwise serious music video. Your intension behind the parody version was not for commercial use and was not created for nonprofit educational purposes. Your version may be seen as mocking and damaging to the artistic value that the original version possesses.
Secondly, the nature of the copyrighted work is serious and creative and the original work was made for entertainment purposes. The nature of your work may be creative and for the sake of entertainment but it was created to poke fun of the serious artwork at hand. This factor balances in their favor because you did not change the nature of the work significantly enough to change the meaning of the work.
The third factor to be considered is the amount and substance of the copyrighted material used in your version. You used a substantial amount of the original version. You used the same moving image as well as the same sheet music. You may have changed the lyrics and played the notes on different instruments but you did not change the nature and meaning of the work. The balancing scale leans in their favor here as well.
The last factor to be considered is the market impact and profit that your version lays on the original version. Your version has little to no profit value and has little impact on the original work. The original work was released in the 80s and should have theoretically been seen by spectators in its original untampered state, your version cannot be accused of spoiling content for audiences. This version has the potential to revive an otherwise dated and forgotten artwork by introducing it to newer audiences and giving it new life. Here, the balancing scale tips in your favor.
When we combine all four factors it is easy to note that your version does not fit the bill for fair use. Your work is definitely derivative and not original. It is my recommendation that you proceed with caution and be aware that legal actions may come of this.
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The copyright for Disney cartoon character Mickey Mouse is set to expire on December 31, 2023 and enters the public domain on January 1, 2024.
Mickey Mouse was first created in 1928 and first appeared in an animated short titled ‘Steamboat Willie.’
Mickey Mouse was originally governed by the 1909 Copyright Act and entitled him to 56 years of protection (28 year term and renewable for another 28 years of protection). The original expiration date would have been December 31, 1984. As this date drew near, Disney began to lobby Congress for new copyright legislation.