Pottstown, PA asked in Copyright, Intellectual Property and Trademark for Pennsylvania

Q: Copyright, Trademark, and Parody.

1st Question: Would this fall safely under parody? (Yes I believe it to be parody and not satire as the image and words only produce comedic effect with the knowledge of the video game elements and stand alone does not create a comedic effect)

I used photoshop to impose two copyrighted images onto each other for a comedic effect.

Both images are from the same video game but are in not related to each other in the game by anymeans other than they both exist.

2nd Question: If the above does safely fall under parody, can I trademark/copyright the parody image?

My guess is yes, however I want to confirm before I do so.

Thank you for any insight that can be given.

2 Lawyer Answers
Robert Kost
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  • Trademarks Lawyer
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: It's not clear from your description what the superimposed images are a parody of. A parody is a "humorously exaggerated imitation" that borrows from a copyrighted work in order to make fun of it. So, it's very difficult to even comment (let alone give advice) without more information.

Parody is one form of a limited exception to copyright rights, called "fair use." Fair use is defined by statute here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/107. Fair use is a fact-based assessment and depends on all of the particulars of your case, and on an attorney's knowledge of precedent. Even then, the answer is not black and white, and one always runs the risk of getting the copyright holder(s) angry enough to threaten or actually bring suit.

This is a classic "consult with your attorney" situation, which will depend heavily on a back and forth conversation.

Best of luck!

-- Rob

Marcos Garciaacosta agrees with this answer

Marcos Garciaacosta
Marcos Garciaacosta

A: You need to consult an attorney to understand your options.

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