Regular readers of the NAVA blog may recall a previous one about the proposed inclusion of "parody" and "satire" as provisions for 'fair dealing' in the amendments to the Copyright Act.
Well, for artists who want to use other people's material for free, the good news is that it's now legal if you can make it fit the definitions. The Copyright Amendment Act 2006, now entitles Australian artists to officially use copyrighted material for these purposes.
Unfortunately, there isn't a definition for either exception in the Act, but according to my trusty Oxford Pocket Dictionary:
parody. 1. n. Composition in which an author's characteristics are ridiculed by imitation; feeble imitation, travest. 2. v.t Write p. of, caricature.
satire. n. Form of literary medley among the ancient Romans [probably a useless definition for most visual artists, but a good history lesson nonetheless]; composition in which vice or folly or person as guilty of it is held up to ridicule, use of ridicule or sarcasm or irony to expose & discourage vice & folly, thing that serves to expose false pretensions.
Previously, neither of these reasons was a valid excuse for using images or text copyrighted by others. This is not to say that images and text weren't previously used illegally, however, now artists can create works that reference others' work and use images by other Australian artists, photographers, designers, writers, musicians, etc in the creation of an artwork, if it is used for the purposes of parody or satire. Fair dealing means that the work can't be completely ripped off, but it may be used without prior permission or a licence.
While this is exciting news for some contemporary artists, it won't please those who would have preferred to be paid a fee for the use of their work.
And it doesn't mean that it's 'open slather' for all images. It is only for material protected by the Australian Copyright Act and an artist's work (or that of a writer, playwright, etc) is still protected from abuse by Moral Rights and Defamation laws.
We thoroughly recommend you check out the Australian Copyright Council 's website. They have a great information sheet on all the changes that have been made.