I’d missed seeing the background to this, but apparently on Wednesday new European laws governing the art of parody come into effect. This BBC article has a reasonably easy-to-understand summary for those of us who don’t have a clue what it’s all about.
Basically, it will make it easier for people to parody existing works (tv shows, films, presumably books) without being sued for breach of copyright. The bottom line will no longer be whether the work in question is under copyright or not, but whether the parody is funny or not.
I can see arguments in court if the only person deciding on that is a judge who lacks a sense of humour – or one who has hysterics while everyone else can barely raise a smile. The more immediate effect, though, is to make it easier for writers to parody something without being sued. The downside to that is, of course, that it also smoothes the way for other people to parody our work – and there may not be a damn thing we can do about it.