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Is the Nietzsche Family Circus a Parody?

I have to admit, I love the Nietzsche Family Circus (found via Leiter). But I worry–does it pass fair use muster?

All fans of copyright law are probably aware of the famous distinction between parody and satire in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose–the former mocks a copyrighted work itself, the latter only uses a copyrighted work to make some larger point. Parody is far more likely to be found a fair use than satire, but the distinction has often seemed to me less than compelling. For example, in a famous case, a rhyming satire of the OJ Simpson trial based on a Dr. Seuss book was deemed not a fair use, because rather than parodying Dr. Seuss, the infringer was only using that book to satirize OJ.

I have a sense that the Nietzsche Family Circus is aimed more at absurdist humor than, say, mocking the anodyne style of the white-bread target. But I don’t see what interest society has in promoting the latter more than the former.

Anyway, I hope to see some of you at the WIPIP conference in Pittsburgh tomorrow!

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