Created: March 2017
Last Updated: April 2020
This learning experience is part of a playlist — two or more learning experiences focused on specific areas of the digital world. You can find this playlist, Sharing Your Work Online — What License to Use?, here. This particular learning experience is the fifth in a sequence of six. Learning experiences in a playlist build off of each other, but they were designed so that they can also be completed on their own!
|Group or individual activity:||Individual|
|Ages:||13-18 years old|
|Online / offline elements:||This learning experience contains an offline activity and challenge.|
Main area: Law
Additional areas: Content Production
|License:||This learning experience has been created by Youth and Media and is licensed under a Creative Commons AttributionShareAlike 4.0 International license. For more information, please visit https://dcrp.berkman.harvard.edu/about|
*Please note: If you are unfamiliar with the concept of fair use, we recommend that you complete the “Fair Use Basics” learning experience, also part of the Sharing Your Work Online — What License to Use? playlist, prior to engaging in this activity.
Understand how parody (a form of fair use) is a type of work that comments on or criticizes another (usually) better-known work by imitating it in a comedic way.
[Optional] Computer or mobile device with Internet access
[Optional] Pen or pencil
Video: President Barack Obama: Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis - by Funny or Die
Video: Aladdin - by Saturday Night Live
Video: Star Wars Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base - by Saturday Night Live
Article: Teen Sick of Mother Barging into Room with Clean, Folded Clothes - by The Onion
Video: Dumb Starbucks - by Dumb Starbucks
Guide: Licensing – Glossary of Terms - by the Youth and Media team and Cyberlaw Clinic
Guide: Parody Guide - by the Youth and Media team and Cyberlaw Clinic
Bart Baker is famous for posting YouTube videos in which he pokes fun at popular songs by creating new lyrics and doing silly renditions of the original music video’s visuals. Videos like Bart’s are “parodies,” and represent a form of fair use. A GIF of Katy Perry’s “Left Shark” with a funny caption is also considered a form of parody. What would happen if the original content creators, who may own the copyright to the source materials, wanted Bart Baker to stop using their content?
A parody is "an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect." It is often used as a way of making fun of the news, politics, or public figures. Websites like The Onion and TV shows such as The Daily Show all employ parody for comedic effect. When Bart Baker or these websites create derivative work that imitates copyrighted content, they can be protected by the fact that their work is a parody of the original. Parody works that are protected like this are a form of fair use.
In this learning experience, you will create a parody, modifying existing work in an exaggerated way to express your opinion. In the “Choose Your License” learning experience, you can take your understanding of online licensing to the next level by learning how to protect the digital content you create.
Pick an event from your local news. Write a short article in the style of The Onion (a parody of a traditional news website), and share it with a friend or family member. Below the article, describe the local news story that you chose and how you parodied it. Explain why fair use protects your parody.
Amazing work completing this challenge! We bet that others are really interested in seeing what you learned! We encourage you to share your write-up with the same family member or friend you spoke to, or another friend or adult (e.g., an educator, mentor, or advisor). You can also share your write-up with the Youth and Media team via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please identify the title of the learning experience in the subject line of the email.