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We're working on a TV pilot that features a karaoke contest in a bar. Toward the end, a member of the rival team is seen "singing" 10 seconds of a hip-hop song as picture fades out. His interpretation of it is awful, to the point that it's barely even the same lyrics, and the backing track we made for it is original, and doesn't really derive from the original beat.
My thinking is, because we've used so little of the work, and because its "transformative" in nature (not the original recording, poorly done performance), and is used only to make a point in the show, that this constitutes fair use. I was wondering what some experts thought. Thanks for your time.If it helps at all, the song has no discernable melody so the only thing at issue here are the lyrics the actor is "performing". The pilot is a submission to the NY TV Festival and not directly ordered by any network, but could be exhibited at the festival should it be selected. I've reached out to the publisher regarding licensing, but suspect they'll decline outright due to the intentionally poor performance. (especially by a demonstrably nerdy guy of an demonstrably "gangster rap" track) Follow up question: Would dubbing in different "sounds-alike" lyrics still constitute possible infringement? FURTHER UPDATE: Was able to send the rights holder the clip and they actually agreed that it was satirical enough to agree to let us use it for free. Thanks for the advice everybody! Glad I actually asked for the rights!