Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music

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Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music
Court Supreme Court of the United States
Citation 510 U.S. 569
Date decided March 7, 1994
Appealed from U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Case Opinions
unanimous written by David H. Souter
concurrence written by Anthony M. Kennedy


Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. sued 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 "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. In reversing, the Court of Appeals held that the commercial nature of the parody rendered it presumptively unfair.


May 2 Live Crew's commercial parody of Roy Orbison's "Oh, Pretty Woman" be a fair use within the meaning of the Copyright Act of 1976?


Yes. A parody's commercial character is only one element to be weighed in a fair use enquiry.

Insufficient consideration was given to the nature of parody in weighing the degree of copying. The Court of Appeals erred in applying the presumption that the commercial nature of the parody rendered it presumptively unfair, as no such evidentiary presumption was available to address either the character and purpose of the use or the market harm. The appellate court "erred in holding that 2 Live Crew had necessarily copied excessively from the Orbison original, considering the parodic purpose of the use."