OCTOBER TERM, 1993
certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the sixth circuit
No. 92-1292. Argued November 9, 1993—Decided March 7, 1994
Respondent Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., filed suit against petitioners, the members of the rap music group 2 Live Crew and their record company, claiming that 2 Live Crew's song, "Pretty Woman," infringed Acuff-Rose's copyright in Roy Orbison's rock ballad, "Oh, Pretty Woman." The District Court granted summary judgment for 2 Live Crew, holding that its song was a parody that made fair use of the original song. See Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U. S. C. § 107. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that the commercial nature of the parody rendered it presumptively unfair under the first of four factors relevant under § 107; that, by taking the "heart" of the original and making it the "heart" of a new work, 2 Live Crew had, qualitatively, taken too much under the third § 107 factor; and that market harm for purposes of the fourth § 107 factor had been established by a presumption attaching to commercial uses.
Held: 2 Live Crew's commercial parody may be a fair use within the meaning of § 107. Pp. 574-594. (a) Section 107, which provides that "the fair use of a copyrighted work . . . for purposes such as criticism [or] comment . . . is not an infringement . . . ," continues the common-law tradition of fair use adjudication and requires case-by-case analysis rather than bright-line rules. The statutory examples of permissible uses provide only general guidance. The four statutory factors are to be explored and weighed together in light of copyright's purpose of promoting science and the arts. Pp. 574-578. (b) Parody, like other comment and criticism, may claim fair use. Under the first of the four § 107 factors, "the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature . . . ," the enquiry focuses on whether the new work merely supersedes the objects of the original creation, or whether and to what extent it is "transformative," altering the original with new expression, meaning, or message. The more transformative the new work, the less will be the significance of other factors, like commercialism, that may weigh against a finding of fair use. The heart of any parodist's claim to quote from existing material is the use of some elements of a prior author's composition to
569Page: Index 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007