Fair use as we know it tends to be a very complicated subject. There must be certain criteria met in order for the use of a copyrighted piece to be used legally without permission from the author. The parody video of LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It” transcribed to Elmo’s “I’m Elmo and I Know It” is clearly under fair use.
As Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi explain, “The statute requires, at a minimum, considering the character of the use (what are you doing with the material?). the nature of the original work (is it mainly factual reportage or an imaginative production?) the amount taken (and whether it’s the central part of the work), and the effect of the market value of the work” (Aufderheide and Jazsi 24)
To address these four points and prove that Elmo’s remix of “I’m Sexy and I Know It” let us take them part by part:
1) Character: the character of the work is maintained to singing and entertainment of the audience, but it is a different kind of audience
2) The nature of the Original Work: Both are used as entertainment but as LMFAO uses their music for a teenage crowd, Elmo transforms it to entertain a younger crowd such as children. LMFAO uses the song to state acts that teenagers would know such as clubbing and displaying confidence when it comes to speaking with women, while Elmo uses it to introduce his home in Sesame Street.
3) The Amount: The amount that is taken can be said as half, since Elmo uses the music beat but changes the lyrics to fit his persona. This seems adequate given the purposes for Elmo’s remix: entertainment, for a different age group.
4) Market Effect: In creating the remix video, LMFAO do not lose profit or possible profit. This does not affect the original work.
Given that Elmo’s video “I’m Elmo and I Know It” successfully pass the ‘four factors’ it can be safely concluded that it is under fair use and the creator cannot be sued for such publication. Any contradictions? Here is the video
Aufderheide, Patricia and Jaszi, Peter. Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011. Print.
Elmo. I’m Elmo and I Know It (LMFAO Parody). Youtube, Apr 2012. Web 30 Sept. 2012 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pvn1ReZfeM>.