Parody and Copyright: In the Government’s Own Words

David Akin has unearthed a revealing memorandum from last spring that states the government's view on the protection of parody and satire under Canadian copyright law as well as highlighting one of the issues raised at the highest levels of the government before the introduction of Bill C-61.

On the queston of the law, the memo to then-Industry Minister Jim Prentice concludes:

Although the apparent shift towards a more liberal interpretation of the fair dealing exception by Canadian courts, as represented by the CCH decision, may result in uses such as parody and satire behing held to be within the scope of the exception, such an outcome is far from certain.

The memo is important for two reasons.  First, it confirms that even the government internally recognizes that the current scope of fair dealing may not cover parody and satire (a position later confirmed by the Canwest case in B.C.).  This again highlights why creator groups should be demanding expansion of fair dealing. 

Second, it points to an interesting debate within the Cabinet over Bill C-61.  The memo indicates that it is advice to the Minister arising from a question at the Cabinet Operations Committee about whether the Copyright Act's fair dealing provision covers parody and satire.  This suggests that at least one cabinet minister raised questions about the scope of fair dealing as C-61 was going through its final approvals within government.  Even more tellingly, Prentice ignored the concerns and moved forward with C-61 without addressing the issue.


  1. pat donovan says:

    the news is copyright AND the parody is illegal…

    that’ll NEVER fly in quebec..

  2. Freedom of satire
    From that there is a stretch to conclude that the current government wants to restrict the freedom of satire in any way they can in the same way they have tried to restrict the news reporting.

    (funny thing that one of the words for the recaptcha is “scruples”)

  3. somecanuckchick says:

    I would love to hear Rick Mercer’s thoughts on this…
    Rick Mercer’s relies on parody and satire for his livelihood. That said, I would love to hear his thoughts on the restriction of these freedoms.

    🙂 somecanuckchick

  4. Hey somecanuckchick, If C-61 passes…
    …there will be no Rick Mercer or any Canadian comedy anymore 🙁

  5. somecanuckchick says:

    @ Gregg
    I do not know if I want to live in a world where Rick Mercer is not a weekly staple on the CBC in the land of the canucks… 🙁

  6. @ somecanuckchick
    I hear you. I was devestated when we lost Air Farce.