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A parody is an artistic or expressive work designed to incorporate elements from, or the style of, an existing work for comic effect; frequently intended to criticize the underlying work. In the context of Copyright law, a parody uses elements from an existing work to criticize the work itself and is entitled to greater Fair Use protection than works incorporating underlying works to criticize an unrelated person or thing. On the other hand, satire is an artistic or expressive work designed to criticize someone or something through exaggeration, humor, and/or irony. In the context of Copyright law, a satire may incorporate elements of an existing work, but without the intent to criticize the original work.
Respondent, a nationally known minister and commentator on politics and public affairs, filed a diversity action in Federal District Court against petitioners, a nationally circulated magazine and its publisher, to recover damages for, inter alia, libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress arising from the publication of an advertisement "parody" which, among other things, portrayed respondent as having engaged in a drunken incestuous rendezvous with his mother in an outhouse. The jury found against respondent on the libel claim, specifically finding that the parody could not "reasonably be understood as describing actual facts . . . or events," but ruled in his favor on the emotional distress claim, stating that he should be awarded compensatory and punitive damages. The Court of Appeals affirmed, rejecting petitioners' contention that the "actual malice" standard of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U. S. 254, must be met before respondent can recover for emotional distress. Rejecting as irrelevant the contention that, because the jury found that the parody did not describe actual facts, the ad was an opinion protected by the First Amendment to the Federal Constitution, the court ruled that the issue was whether the ad's publication was sufficiently outrageous to constitute intentional infliction of emotional distress.
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