Finland: Individual sentenced for modifying, redistibuting news broadcast. First under new copyright law

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For re-broadcasting a news item from Yleisradio, the District court of Oulu Finland found the defendant guilty of copyright infringement and sentenced him to pay a fine plus damages.

The defendant had modified a song taken from a news broadcast in early 2020 as the COVID pandemic was getting underway, without license, added his own subtitles and redistributed it to the public via X (the former Twitter).  The modified item had was considered to be racist and degrading in nature, in the opinion of the rights-holder.

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The defendant contended that permission was not necessary because it was a parody, which is allowed under European Union’s Copyright law.  The court had a different opinion, saying that it was instead a prohibited modification of the work.  The defendant was ordered pay EUR 640 in compensation for the use of the work according to the Copyright Act, plus EUR 2,260 in damages. In addition, the court prohibited the person from continuing or repeating the act.

“Rights holders should have the right to prohibit the use of their works as a means of discriminatory messages,” said Jaana Pihkala, Executive Director of Finland’s Copyright Information and Control Center (TTVK).

Further reading

The first solution according to the new law on the interpretation of parody.  News release.  January 15, 2024. Copyright Information and Control Center (TTVK), Finland

The Parody Exception: Revisiting the Case for a Distinct Pastiche Exception. Article. by Sabine Jacques, University of Liverpool. October 5, 2023. Kluwer Copyright Blog

Why it matters

According to TTVK, this was the first judgment after the reform of the EU’s Copyright Act, which concerns the current parody restriction under the Copyright Act (Section 23a).  The clause regarding exceptions is in Article 5(k)

The court considered that the edited video contained a discriminatory message, and in its reasoning referred to the interpretation guidelines issued by the Court of Justice of the European Union, according to which an act containing a discriminatory message cannot be considered a permitted parody (See Judgment of EUJ on September 3, 2014 in case C-201/13 (Deckmyn).

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