Necessarily Critical? The Adoption of a Parody Defence to Copyright Infringement in Canada

Graham Reynolds, Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia

Abstract

The creation and distribution of parodies promote the fundamental values underlying the constitutionally protected right to freedom of expression. Through parodies, individuals can progress in their "search for political, artistic and scientific truth", protect their autonomy and self-development, and promote "public participation in the democratic process". Recognizing the importance of parody to political, social, and cultural life, governments in various jurisdictions have adopted or proposed parody defences to copyright infringement. The Canadian Copyright Act, however, does not contain an explicit parody defence to copyright infringement. Furthermore, no Canadian court has accepted a defence of parody to a claim of copyright infringement.