Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Parody as unfair competition? No, says Brazilian court

Can a parody involving TV shows and actors of a broadcasting company be considered a form of unfair competition? According to GLOBO, the biggest broadcasting company in Brazil, the answer is yes, especially when it is promoted by a rival broadcasting company, named RECORD.

The rivalry between these two companies has reached our local courts. At issue are Tom Cavalcante’s parodies, broadcast by RECORD, regarding GLOBO TV programmes and its main actors. Tom Cavalcante is one of the biggest comedians in Brazil and public recognition may be compared to that of Benny Hill and Mr Bean.

To restrrain such acts, GLOBO brought a legal action against RECORD claiming that such parodies go well beyond what is lawful, representing a parasitic activity, entering thus in the domain of unfair competition. For RECORD, the broadcast parodies are in accordance with the constitutional right of freedom of speech. The plaintiff also sought an interlocutory injunction enjoining RECORD for parodying its TV shows, as well as its actors and actresses. This request was denied in a decision recently affirmed by the Appellate Court.

This decision is only the first act of a legal battle that promises to be fierce and to have several acts. In this play, the story is not yet fully written and there are two playwrights working on each side and in opposite ways. Let us see how our local courts, as Deus ex Machina, will decide this dispute.

Written by Jorge Miguel Arruda da Veiga (Di Blasi, Parente, Vaz e Dias & Asociados)

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