Parody and Pastiche: How Does the US Law Affect Them?

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There are so many different ways that parody and pastiche make people laugh and think. That is, people can incorporate stylistic elements that make people wonder about bigger issues in the world and around them. Parody and pastiche are the same but different at the same time.

Both parody and pastiche are considered to be nearly the same thing. However, pastiche is a work of drama, art, music, literature, or architecture that imitates the work of previous artists. Parody is when a performance or a piece of work imitates another piece of work through irony or ridicule.

Many parodies will use multiple art forms to bring new commentary to a particular piece of artistic work. However, how does this all fit in with US legislation?

What Is Pastiche?

Pastiche may involve certain aspects that many people do not understand, but to know whether someone can use pastiche correctly, they need to understand what it is. The word pastiche is pronounced pass-TEESH, and it’s a French cognate of “pasticcio,” an Italian word. Pastiche pays homage to another author or genre. It is a way that many people can honor and respect work from the past.

The TV show ’30 Rock’ is about a television studio, which gives writers a chance to bring in a lot of pastiche. They brought in many different episodes that mimicked big shows like ‘Seinfeld’ or ‘The Brady Bunch.’ This is because the author’s cultural knowledge of those shows and the time can translate to the present day. This form of pastiche celebrates love for the previous shows.

Another example of pastiche is Kill Bill by Quentin Tarantino. He managed to patch together two different genres: westerns and kung fu movies. Not only did this mix send up positive reviews, but it also showed off another form of pastiche. The allusion requires the team to work together to create camera techniques and dialogue that remind people of the two genres.

When this all worked together, it made for a fantastic film that people still watch and talk about today. It also was so popular that there were many other sequels after the original one.

Another popular form of pastiche is music. Classic blues and jazz will inspire many artists and R&B sounds to pay homage to older art pieces. It is like a pie filling mixed with different pieces of fruit. It is exploratory, new, and still delicious to consume.

Overall, pastiche brings people together because the artistic work is there to celebrate and bring love towards something people love.

Pastiche and the Law

Pastiche is not stealing. The original piece has not been tampered with, and the author did not steal it. Instead, it is mimicked with a genuine love for the piece. The author of every pastiche work expects the audience to know it is imitating another piece of work.

When a pastiche work looks like it is trying to hide the imitation, it can cause people to think that it is now trying to plagiarize a piece of work. That is why authors will copy the conventions of the piece of work but not the actual work.

An example would be that if someone were to mimic a Clint Eastwood movie, then they would make their character have a similar speaking voice, but they would not copy the actual lines from the movie.

Also another prevalent work that pastiche lovers constantly cover is Sherlock Holmes. Many authors have written stories that give literary allusion to this piece of art. Many people know what they are reading or watching when they see this form of pastiche because the characters’ names are usually swapped slightly.

Parody and Fair Use

In the Copyright Act, there is Section 107 where there is the term fair use. This means certain artists’ work can be made and publicized without copyright infringement. Many different pieces of work can be used for criticism or comment.

Parody and pastiche can be filled with humor while it makes comments and criticism about other artists’ work. Luckily, parody is seen to have fallen under the fair use category, unlike anything with satiric impulse. This is because parody is a piece of work, whether it be music videos, plays, books, or more, and it follows the original work in a way that can imitate it for a comic effect.

When a parody is made and used, it must imitate the work to convey a message. That is why it can use some of the original work while other pieces of work, like satire, cannot.

More About the Fair Use policy

Specific aspects must be considered when creating any kind of parody or pastiche. A four-factor fair use analysis has been placed in Section 107 for people to use.

  1. The purpose of the character and its use needs to be established. Whether the parody uses this character for a commercial or an educational purpose must be determined. Also, it needs to be determined whether it is transformative and if it adds anything new to the original piece.
  2. It needs to be established whether this copyrighted work is factual or creative. Also, it would need to be decided whether it has been published.
  3. People will also look at the parody and consider the amount of the sustainability of the new use compared to the original work.
  4. Lastly, mark harm will need to be thought of. If it appears that this will greatly affect the original piece of works market, then this could cause a problem.


Parodies and pastiche pieces are a great way to get people to speak about iconic pieces of work. This is because a parody is filled with diverse ingredients that make people think about what they are looking at. Whether it is a TV show, piece of art, or music video, people will be able to learn from a parody or pastiche.

However, people need to ensure that they follow the law when creating these art pieces because they could get on the wrong side of the law.

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