Sadly we won’t be seeing Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood dancing on a green hillside in homage to The Sound of Music anymore as Rodgers and Hammerstein have complained.
The advert for the next series of The Great British Bake Off comprised of the two bakers dancing on a hillside whilst singing along to an altered version of the 1965 song ’The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music‘. The lyrics have been changed to include “The hills are alive with the smell of baking, with cakes that we baked for a thousand years.”
The songs from The Sound of Music are very firmly copyrighted and the publishers of the music, Rodgers and Hammerstein, have complained to the BBC demanding that the advert is taken off air immediately.
A spokesman from the BBC said, “The BBC used the fair dealing exception for parody under the Copyright Act in relation to the trailer. This was a legitimate use of a copyright exception and there was no breach of copyright by the BBC.” They followed the statement denying that the advert was withdrawn because of the complaint.
Parody is allowed under copyright law as the EU Copyright Directive provides an exception “for the purposes of caricature, parody or pastiche”. This means that in principle it is possible to create parodies that re-use works protected by copyright without having to obtain permission from the rights holders.
The use of copyrighted works for parody purposes is only allowed up to a certain point. How much copying from a work is allowed is ultimately decided by a court of law, usually once the copyright holder complains.
UK copyright law also gives the creator moral rights. This means that the copyright holder has the right not to have their work subjected to derogatory treatment – often referred to as the right of integrity. This means that you can’t use the work to mock it in a way that might offend the creator. If you do offend them then they have the right under copyright law to take action against you, even though you’ve only used their work for parody.
If your company is considering doing a parody of a great show, song or even iconic TV, you must consider if you would be infringing someone else’s rights. Sometimes copyright may have expired on work but it’s better to check first rather than be sued later.
If you are considering using copyrighted work in any way you will need expert legal advice to make sure you don’t inadvertently break the law.
Slater and Gordon have a large team of copyright lawyers that have many years’ experience working for both copyright holders and potential users of copyrighted materials. If you need any legal advice around copyright please call us on freephone 0800 916 9052 or contact us online and we will call you.
Did you see the Sound of Music advert for The Great British Bake Off? If so, what did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.