Case: 2 Live Crew

Case citation: Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, 510 U.S. 569 (1994).


After failing to get permission to cover Roy Orbison's "Oh, Pretty woman," rap group 2 Live Crew recorded a parody version of the song anyway. Acuff-Rose Music sued for copyright infringement. A district court held that 2 Live Crew's use of the song was parody, thus fair use. The 6th circuit court reversed that decision. On appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that the appeals court had erred in their decision that 2 Live Crew's parody of the song was not fair use. 

Decision: Reversed 

Test - Fair Use Doctrine: 

This test evaluates what qualifies as fair use of someone else's copyrighted work.

  1. Purpose: Is the use commercial or non-commercial?
  2. Nature of work: Certain works, for example unpublished texts and works of fiction enjoy more protection. 
  3. Portion used: What amount, compared to the whole, was used?
  4. Economic effect: What was the financial loss to the copyright owner?

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