AI Parodies: Fair Use or Excuse?

Posted By: Eric Ludwig
Date: July 24, 2023

As we wake to the dawn of a new age filled with artificial intelligence (“AI”) tools, each day seems to pose new questions and concerns. How daring or cautious should we be when using this game-changing technology?

Whether we know it or not, and without explanation, context, or accuracy, most of us encounter some form of “AI” almost daily via platforms such as YouTube, Twitch, or TikTok. That’s where a new phenomenon is emerging within the streaming and video space. It’s called the “AI Parody” and it’s gaining in popularity.

What Is An AI Parody?

AI Parodies are typically derived from existing intellectual property (“IP”) such as TV shows or movies. It’s this IP that is fed into specific AI tools to create new forms of digital media (the aforementioned AI Parody).

This digital product is then presented on video platforms as parody, citing the fair use exception—and these parodies can be created at rates and volumes far outstripping the capabilities of studios or individuals responsible for the original IP content.

Examples of popular AI Parodies include those derived from shows like Family Guy, Seinfeld, and Spongebob Squarepants, all of which can be found on popular streaming platforms. Those creating the parodies will, if they have not already, eventually earn an income from them through advertising, subscriptions, and increased followings.

Another example of an AI Parody is a 24/7 AI Debate between former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden. This parody features both men gesturing and speaking with highly accurate AI-generated voices. For a donation, audiences can pose questions and both the AI-created Trump and Biden figures will respond to them real-time. The verbal sparring is really quite a convincing, albeit not flattering, representation of the two men.

What Does the Road Ahead Look Like?

Several of the AI Parody examples mentioned in this blog have “hopped” from platform to platform as the result of infringement claims filed by the IP owners of the original characters or likenesses. While no legal precedent has been set in a courtroom, each platform simply suspended the offending account for failure to comply with their Terms of Service related to copyright infringement.

In the defense of entrepreneurship, I can understand the funny and entertaining prospects of AI Parody ventures. Once created, these parodies can generate significant passive income with little to no intervention from those who created them. Of course, the characters and likenesses inherent to the popularity of these creations are the IP of others. Therein lies the rub.

As AI tools advance, the barrier for creating ever more sophisticated AI parodies becomes ever lower. The way I see it, as long as the social marketplace welcomes these parodies and enough platforms allow them to be streamed, they will continue to be profitable and popular.

How Can IP Creators/Owners Be Proactive?

While we are still in the early stages of determining the legal implications of AI and IP, for IP owners and creators, keeping as up to date as possible about AI advancements is critical. Ignoring the AI revolution will not protect anyone’s IP interests, nor will it make AI go away.

Like it or not, AI may already be seeping into our day-to-day lives whether we know it or not. AI tools are easy to use and easy to access. They’re typically free and cloud-based, so they can be accessed by pretty much anyone.

That said, if you’re about to adventure into the new “AI Dawn” or if you’re fearful of how AI has impacted (or may impact) your existing IP interests, give Ludwig APC a call or contact us by email. As experts in privacy matters, IP, and business litigation, AI is a topic of great interest to us.

Let’s Work Together: Global Experience, Personal Focus

Ludwig APC regularly monitors technology's impact on IP and business best practices. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation: (619) 929-0873 |[email protected].


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