Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc.
510 U.S. 569 (1994)

  • Orbison and Dees wrote a song called 'Pretty Woman', which they sold to Acuff-Rose.
  • Campbell asked Acuff-Rose for permission to make a parody version of the song that he claimed was intended to "through comical lyrics to satirize the original work. They said no. Campbell made the song anyway.
    • The song went on to sell over 250k records.
  • Acuff-Rose sued for copyright infringement.
    • Campbell argued that he was protected by the fair use provision (17 U.S.C. 107) because his song was a satire of the original.
    • Acuff-Rose argued that fair use was not applicable because Campbell appropriated the work for commercial use.
  • The Trial Court found for Campbell. Acuff-Rose appealed.
  • The Appellate Court reversed. Campbell appealed.
    • The Appellate Court looked to 107 and found that Campbell's use did not qualify as fair use because:
      • The commercial nature of the parody rendered it presumptively unfair,
      • Campbell had taken too much of the original work by taking the "heart" of the original and making it the "heart" of a new work, and
      • Market harm had been established by a presumption attaching to commercial uses.
  • The US Supreme Court reversed and remanded.
    • The US Supreme Court noted that parodies in general might be covered by fair use or they might not, depending on the specific circumstances.
    • The Court used the four-factor test of 107.
      • Is the purpose and character of the use commercial or non-commercial?
        • The Court found that just because Campbell's use was commercial doesn't create a presumption that it is not fair use. It is just one factor to be considered.
      • The nature of the copyrighted work.
        • The Court found that this didn't really apply since the artistic value of parodies is often found in their ability to invariably copy popular works of the past.
      • The amount of the original work used.
        • The Court found that Campbell had used the 'heart' of the original work, but that copying the 'heart' is required in order to be a successful parody. Since Campbell substituted mostly his own lyrics, it couldn't be said that he took more of the original work than was necessary.
          • It can only be parody if you can recognize the original material. (On the other hand, satire doesn't require recognition of the original material)
      • The effect on the potential market.
        • The Court found that in general parodies do not harm the marketability of the original work because the two serve different market functions.
        • However, if Acuff-Rose could show that they lost the chance to sell the rights to another parodist because of Campbell's version, then they might have a case.