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March 26, 2014 | Ed Paton-Williams

Why is parodying Sky's Captain America filtering adverts still illegal?

Captain America, Marvel Comics' World War II supersoldier, is the star of Sky Broadband's latest advert. And he's taking a break from fighting 1940s comic book bad guys to promote Sky's default Internet filters.


He's "Here to serve and protect your family" with "Heroic new internet protection that lets you filter which websites can be seen in your home."Sky's Captain America advert

Now, I'm not suggesting that Sky is actually using Captain America's cultural values of 1940's America to decide what's appropriate in the UK in 2014. (They've already told ORG they're using Symantec to draw up their filtering categories.)

But the idea that a character so perplexed by new technology in his recent films would be the best person to implement complex Internet filtering systems is pretty funny.

And you can see how editing the advert to replace Captain America with other people or changing the text could be funny too. The whole thing is ripe for parody.

But if you wanted to highlight some of the problems with default Internet filters by making a spoof of Sky's advert, you'd be breaking the law in the UK.

It's currently illegal to make a parody of a copyright work in the UK without the permission of the copyright holder. Last year the Government promised to reform copyright law to legalise parody by 6th April 2014. But it looks as if they're going to miss that deadline and it's not clear when they'll bring the changes in.

ORG's asking Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, to put the reforms in front of Parliament now. You can take action now by sending Vince Cable a quick email calling for the right to parody.

And if anyone wants to make some Sky superhero filtering parodies to point out problems with filtering and also how archaic the UK's copyright laws are, feel free!


The image here is a photograph of Sky's advert in the Metro of 26th March 2014. It is used here under the fair dealing copyright exception for the purposes of criticism or review under Section 30(1) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

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