Language of document :

Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 3 September 2014 (request for a preliminary ruling from the Hof van beroep te Brussel — Belgium) — Johan Deckmyn, Vrijheidsfonds VZW v Helena Vandersteen and Others

(Case C-201/13) 1

(Reference for a preliminary ruling — Directive 2001/29/EC — Copyright and related rights — Reproduction right — Exceptions and limitations — Concept of ʻparodyʼ — Autonomous concept of EU law)

Language of the case: Dutch

Referring court

Hof van beroep te Brussel

Parties to the main proceedings

Applicants: Johan Deckmyn, Vrijheidsfonds VZW

Defendants: Helena Vandersteen, Christiane Vandersteen, Liliana Vandersteen, Isabelle Vandersteen, Rita Dupont, Amoras II CVOH, WPG Uitgevers België

Operative part of the judgment

1.    Article 5(3)(k) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, must be interpreted as meaning that the concept of ‘parody’ appearing in that provision is an autonomous concept of EU law.

2.    Article 5(3)(k) of Directive 2001/29 must be interpreted as meaning that the essential characteristics of parody, are, first, to evoke an existing work, while being noticeably different from it, and secondly, to constitute an expression of humour or mockery. The concept of ‘parody’, within the meaning of that provision, is not subject to the conditions that the parody should display an original character of its own, other than that of displaying noticeable differences with respect to the original parodied work; that it could reasonably be attributed to a person other than the author of the original work itself; that it should relate to the original work itself or mention the source of the parodied work.

However, the application, in a particular case, of the exception for parody, within the meaning of Article 5(3)(k) of Directive 2001/29, must strike a fair balance between, on the one hand, the interests and rights of persons referred to in Articles 2 and 3 of that directive, and, on the other, the freedom of expression of the user of a protected work who is relying on the exception for parody, within the meaning of Article 5(3)(k).

It is for the national court to determine, in the light of all the circumstances of the case in the main proceedings, whether the application of the exception for parody, within the meaning of Article 5(3)(k) of Directive 2001/29, on the assumption that the drawing at issue fulfils the essential requirements of parody, preserves that fair balance.


1 OJ C 189, 29.6.2013.