A parody is a piece of literary, artistic or musical work which imitates another original work mainly for comical purposes. It is basically a humorous version of an original work and the person at the receiving end will clearly be able to associate the parody with the original work. A parody in usual cases does not violate copyright in the original work as it is protected under the doctrine of fair use envisaged under Section 52 of the Indian Copyright Act, 1957. The said Section states that fair dealing of any work for the purpose of criticism or review of that work or any other work does not constitute infringement of copyright. In Civic Chandran v Ammini Amma where substantial parts of an original drama were used in a counter drama for the purpose of criticism it was held that copying for the purpose of criticism amounted to fair dealing and did not constitute infringement of copyright. Hence, if an original song was to be parodied for the purpose of criticism it may not be necessary to obtain permission from the owner of the copyright unless the underlying work is insubstantial for the purpose of criticism. For instance, permission need not be sought from the lyricist of an original song which is to be parodied, if the lyrics used in the parody is new and not copied from the original. However, permission may be sought from the author of the musical work if the music embodied in the parody is copied. The requirement to seek license for the music, is supported by the ‘separate copyright in underlying works’ as Section 14 of the Copyright Act states that the reproduction of a work is the exclusive right of the copyright owner, while Section 52(1)(a) allows only for fair dealing. Therefore, as the usage of the music is insubstantial for the purpose of criticism, permission may be sought from the author of the musical work. Hence, it can be concluded that protection under fair use can be sought for parodies only where there has been an enhancement of the original work in the form of criticism or review. Also, for a parody to constitute fair dealing there should not be an intention on the part of the parodist to compete with the original copyright holder and derive profits from such competition. There must also not be any improper motive on the part of the person making the parody.
Now, as a parody only borrows certain aspects of another work, it is considered as a new and independent work and therefore, does not infringe the moral rights of the author of the work from which it has been imitated. It is to be understood that, as the original work is not changed in any way and the recipient of the parody is able to understand that the latter is an independent work created by a different author, the creation of a parody will not injure the moral rights of the author.
Therefore, an author cannot claim violation over their right to paternity when a parody version of their work is made if adequate permission is sought to copy aspects of their work insubstantial for the purpose of criticism or review. Also, as parodies are considered as independent works, there cannot be a case for mutilation, distortion, or modification of the original work and hence insult or injury will not be resulted to the author.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and in the case of parodies though the said artform is based on imitation, the fun lies in marking the differences rather than the similarities with the original work. Now, as the concept of moral rights is based on the fact that an author’s work is an extension of his personality and it is well evident that the personality of the author of the original work is in no way evident through the parody, let’s not take things too seriously and rather just laugh at it!
 16 PTC 329
 M/s. Blackwood & Sons Ltd. v. A.N. Parasuraman AIR 1959 Mad. 410