Skip to main content

Is it legally ok if make a music parody onYouTube where I'll earn revenue & use my own humorous lyrics but the same music beats?

Los Angeles, CA |

Is it legally okay for me to use the exact same musical beats from the original song for a music parody on a website such as YouTube where I'll be earning revenue? The lyrics will be humorous thereby making the lyrics my own and different from the original artist's and record label's song.

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

It is sometimes lawful under the copyright "fair use" doctrine to use another's melody and musical score to make a parody of the original song. A parody is the “use of some elements of a prior author’s composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on that author’s works.” Note that the new work, to be a parody, must be a comment on the original work or original artist -- NOT just a funny commentary on anything [though that funny commentary may be a "satire," a satire very often does not qualify as a fair use].

There is no way for anyone to pass judgment on whether your song is a lawful, parody or an unlawful infringement without hearing your song and the underlying song. And even then there is no one answer to whether the fair use doctrine would apply and, even more, no way for you to be conclusively protected by the fair use defense without first being sued and having to pay an attorney to defend that lawsuit. Weird Al Yankovich ALWAYS acquires a license to make and sell his parody songs. That should tell you that not doing so is a really bad idea.

The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.

Mark as helpful

1 found this helpful

2 lawyers agree

1 comment

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your reply. Using the exact same music but changing the lyrics to mock the original song's lyrics appears to be quite troublesome and a bit too risky. What if I were to download an instrumental only version of the original song and distort the beats with an audio software program and then use the distorted beats with my own humorous lyrics? Is that safer than doing what I had asked in my original question?

Posted

It depends on many factors, including fair use doctrine. You need an attorney's assistance.

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:
• reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords
• prepare derivative works based upon the work
• distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending
• perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works
• display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work
• perform the work publicly (in the case of sound recordings*) by means of a digital audio transmission

This is not a legal advice or solicitation, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Consult with an attorney. I work for Cardinal Risk Mangement and Cardinal Intellectual Property, IP service companies, but not law firms. I also am the president of Vepachedu Educational Foundation Inc., which is a non profit educational foundation. I also write cultural and scientific compliations for the foundation. I also teach at Northwestern university as a guest lecturer. I also provide some pro-bono guidance on immigration and other issues through Indian American Bar Association. I also have a contract with Cardinal Law Group, a law firm, for IP projects. All this information is on my profile at Avvo and also at Linkedin. Any views/opinions expressed in any context are my personal views in individual capacity only, and do not represent the views and opinions of any firm, client, or anyone else, and is not sponsored or endorsed by them in any way.

Mark as helpful

1 lawyer agrees

1 comment

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

That answer sounds impressive but it is just a verbatim copy of much of 17 USC 106 and does not answer the question, which was: "Is it legally okay for me to use the exact same musical beats from the original song for a music parody on a website such as YouTube where I'll be earning revenue?"

Posted

Get a license from the original artist or get sued.

Whether or not they will win the suit is unknown, but any profit you made from the song will vanish instantly in court fees.

Mark as helpful

1 lawyer agrees

Posted

Q:"Is it legally okay for me to use the exact same musical beats from the original song for a music parody on a website such as YouTube where I'll be earning revenue?"
A: Yes, however I doubt what you have in mind is legally a parody but rather a comedic rendition that may be satirical rather than parody. To be safe you should obtain permission and a license.

I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

Mark as helpful

1 lawyer agrees

1 comment

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your answer. Obtaining permission and a license I assume would cost more than I can afford. My lyrics would mock the original song's lyrics but not the artist's personal life or anything. Just the lyrics to the original song. To my knowledge that is a parody and a satire would be mocking something or someone not related whatsoever to the lyrics or artist of the original song. A new question: What if I were to download an instrumental only version of the original song and distort the beats with an audio software program and then use the distorted beats with my own humorous lyrics? Is that safer than doing what I had asked in my original question?