Parody Protection For Fair Use Is Important: Taiwanese Man Faces Jail Time Over Parody Videos Of Movies

from the unfair-abuse dept

Because we talk so much about fair use here, we often likewise find ourselves talking about parody. Parody is one of the forms of content protected under fair use, and that protection is responsible for the availability of a great deal of great content. Parody tends to be equal parts humor and commentary and enjoys a long history of important speech here in America.

But parody doesn't have that protected status in intellectual property laws abroad. Taiwan, for instance, has a form of fair use protections, but those protections carve out no space for parody. This has resulted in local film studios going after one popular YouTuber in such a way as to include law enforcement raids of his offices and the threat of very real jail time.

Chung Wei-ding, more famously known as AmoGood ... makes videos of big screen films, where he often humourously summarises their plot with quick-speaking voiceover. He's done parodies of local films, as well as Hollywood blockbusters like 50 Shades of Grey and Guardians of the Galaxy. AmoGood has over 990,000 subscribers, who often virally share his creations on social media.

But Taiwanese film studio AutoAi Design, and streaming platform KKTV, say 31-year-old infringed on the studios' copyright. AutoAi Design, which distributed films like Doraemon: Nobita's Space Heroes in Taiwan, also said that AmoGood's critiques have greatly dented its ticket sales at the box office. Taiwanese prosecutors obtained a warrant to raid his company premises for evidence, and the YouTuber was called into a Taipei police station for questioning last week, the China Post reported.

You will immediately see the stark difference in treatment between Wei-ding and his American counterparts, such as CinemaSins, which likewise produces parody commentary on blockbuster films. These short-ish videos laced with wicked humor and short clips throughout the films which they comment on are clearly transformative on their own, but its their clear status as parody that protects them in America. Wei-ding doesn't have that status to rely on, though some media reports indicate that he may be in trouble for other reasons as well.

AmoGood may be in a bind in Taiwan, whose media laws don't count parodies as fair use. The territory's courts are likely to consider other factors too, such as whether the work takes away potential sales or viewers from the original work. Additionally, reports have speculated that AmoGood downloads the source films illegally, since he's able to produce the parodies so quickly after their box office debut.

Any copyright claim on him pirating the films would, however, be entirely separate from the charge that his videos themselves are infringing. And, when asked by the film studios targeting him, their comments are all about his videos, not from where he sourced his material. In those comments demonstrate the importance of protecting parody in order to stave off the obstruction of speech over hurt feelings.

Some Taiwanese filmmakers aren't fans. A couple of them told Apple Daily that his videos were "disrespectful" to their movies.

"Each film is the brainchild of directors and producers, and this guy just took it and made fun of it," Kevin Chu — the director of Taiwanese hits like Kung Fu Dunk — told Apple Daily. "I don't believe that this is considered fair use. It's disrespect."

It goes without saying that whether his films are disrespectful or not has no bearing on whether or not his videos ought to be covered by fair use. But when you leave that door open by failing to protect parody, these are the types of arguments you'll get from film studios. For all of this, Wei-ding faces up to five years in prison on top of civil penalties for his parody videos. If that doesn't strike you as crazy, it should.


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  • icon
    ECA (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 12:43pm

    A bit strange..

    A statement here is that they are loosing money, because of his parodies..

    ISNT that a REVIEW PROBLEM??

    This person can DEBATE that he is a reviewer..
    AS if his parodies are Are taking ANYTHING away from the original, thinking HIS parodies are BETTER/Worse Must mean something..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2017 @ 1:02pm

      Re: A bit strange..

      Marketeers think that they dictate what public opinion should be, and get most upset when people disagree with them, just like any other dictator does.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 12:51pm

    "Additionally, reports have speculated that AmoGood downloads the source films illegally, since he's able to produce the parodies so quickly after their box office debut."

    Creative person: Hey MAFIAA, can I have a sample video of your movie so I can make an insanely funny parody that will most likely get viral and drive more viewers to it?
    MAFIAA: Sure! If you need further assistance or some nod from us in the social media just say it.






    Not. In. The. Next. Millennia. Of course he'd need to either pirate or draw in crayon. In a sane world he'd be able to request some footage to the studio to get his job done but in our world he's charged and possibly arrested. For life if the MAFIAA has its way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2017 @ 1:06pm

    because there is nothing more important than a freakin movie and no one deserves to be jailed more than someone taking the piss out of the studios that have their names on those movies! those involved in prosecuting this man and anyone else, anywhere else, simply for having a laugh and making others laugh should be ashamed of themselves, just as those who are doing whatever the studio heads demand. it's about time the world stood up against these ass holes and told them that there are far more important things than a movie!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2017 @ 5:34pm

    Maybe Pirating the Movies and doing the clip thing is a issue. That's kind of a grey area I think. If you do that before the movie is even released on Disc, where are you getting your Clips? Well a Pirate source. If course if you rip the movie from the disc, they'll want to go after you anyway. I think he's a little screwed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 2 May 2017 @ 5:38pm

    He improperly used clips of the films, but also he was mean about it.

    OK so, subtract the clips... it seems like we still have a problem, no? Is that illegal too? Anyone with less than a glowing review gets jail time because of hurt sales?

    GTFOOH

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    My_Name_Here, 2 May 2017 @ 9:51pm

    I beg to differ. Techdirt has been, for some time, holding back my posts while permitting a ruthless parodist to make fun of me via exaggerating my positions. If you parody someone, it's the same as downloading a song: you are raping the person who originally held the rights.

    Masnick keeps trying to kill IP protection laws, but no government is going to take a pirate-friendly website seriously, especially one whose Alexa rankings are steadily going down the toilet. Sorry!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 3 May 2017 @ 12:53am

      Re:

      "Techdirt has been, for some time, holding back my posts while permitting a ruthless parodist to make fun of me via exaggerating my positions"

      There are 2 very clear things that you can do to prevent this:

      1. Create a login so that only you can access a verified version of your account and everyone knows which one is you. Forum handles are not copyrighted, nor are they unique if you refuse to create a login, and anyone can copy you in order to mock you.

      2. Stop being such a colossal lying asshole, thus preventing your posts from being flagged by the community you're annoying and them being held for moderation.

      "Masnick keeps trying to kill IP protection laws"

      Citation needed.

      "Alexa rankings"

      People care about those in 2017? Why?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 3 May 2017 @ 6:05am

        Re: Re:

        I'm not here for the Alexa rankings, I'm here for the insightful articles - and comments.

        My posts occasionally get held back for moderation but I don't have a cow about it.

        If you parody someone, it's the same as downloading a song: you are raping the person who originally held the rights.

        Holy crap, are you kidding me? Parody is intrinsic to our culture. SNL is one example. As I've said before, no one has the right to own cultural artifacts, but it's reasonable to limit the ability to make money from them to the creator "for limited times."

        Masnick keeps trying to kill IP protection laws

        How? By complaining about abuse? I've gone from being pro-IPR to "Kill it with fire!" because of people like you, not Mike.

        but no government is going to take a pirate-friendly website seriously, especially one whose Alexa rankings are steadily going down the toilet. Sorry!

        You may find that no government bothers to check the Alexa rankings of a website before reading any of its content.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 May 2017 @ 7:25am

      Re:

      You're a fucking crybaby. Get over yourself.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 May 2017 @ 2:22am

    This is just a friendly reminder that, regardless of its stance on capitalism, China is still a totalitarian dictatorship at heart.
    Pretty sure the authorities also gave him the usual "it's not worth risking your life" speech.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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