The ECJ ruled on the definition of a parody and explained what should be considered as the one, after the Brussels Court of Appeal has decided to refer the matter to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling. The Belgian court inquired whether the concept of parody requires certain conditions to be fulfilled. For example, (i) display an original character of its own (originality); (ii) display that character in such a manner that the parody cannot reasonably be ascribed to the author of the original work; (iii) seek to be humorous or to mock, regardless of whether any criticism thereby expressed applies to the original work or to something or someone else; and (iv) mention the source of the parodied work.

With regard to the usual meaning of the term ‘parody’ in the everyday language, the ECJ stated that the essential characteristics of parody, are, firstly, to evoke an existing work, while being noticeably different from it; and, secondly, to constitute an expression of humour or mockery. The concept of ‘parody’ is not subject to the conditions that the parody should display an original character of its own, other than that of displaying noticeable differences with respect to the original parodied work; that it could reasonably be attributed to a person other than the author of the original work itself; that it should relate to the original work itself or mention the source of the parodied work.

Intellectual property