On 3 September 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued its decision in Case C-201/13, Johan Deckmyn and Vrijheidsfonds VZW v. Helena Vandersteen and Others, a reference for a preliminary ruling from Belgium, concerning the notion of parody under Article 5(3)(k) of the Information Society Directive 2001/29/EC.
CJEU rules that if a parody conveys a discriminatory message, a person holding rights in the parodied work may demand that that work should not be associated with that message
As regards the characteristics of a parody (which must be defined in accordance with its usual meaning in everyday language), only two are essential: "to evoke an existing work while being noticeably different from it"; and "to constitute an expression of humour or mockery." A parody does not need to display an original character of its own, other than that of noticeable differences with respect to the original work parodied.
The CJEU further decided that there is a need to "strike a fair balance" between copyright protection and freedom of expression, and that the rightholder has "in principle, a legitimate interest in ensuring that the work protected by copyright is not associated" with a parody that conveys a discriminatory message. It is now for the Belgian court to determine whether the application of the exception for parody does strike a fair balance between the interests of the persons concerned.
The official press release is available here. IFRRO reported about the Advocate General’s Opinion here.