Video Parody on Coca-Cola’s Soda-Guzzling Polar Bears Highlights Gruesome Health Consequences Reply

A thought provoking video parody has been released by The Center for Science in Public Interest to fuel its longstanding campaign to reduce the consumption of soda and other sugary drinks.  The video parodies the soda-guzzling polar bears featured in Coca-Cola commercials by featuring a polar bear family (The Real Bears) that suffer from the unhappy health consequences of consuming too much soda including: weight gain, diabetes, tooth decay, obesity, impotence and amputation.

The synopsis of The Real Bears video from the website of The Center for Science in Public Interest:

The Real Bears tells the story of a family of polar bears who, even in their distant Arctic environment, are not immune from sunny marketing messages from Big Soda. The whole family is consuming too much soda… and is experiencing everything from weight gain to tooth decay to problems in the bedroom. Only after recuperating from a terrifying visit to Doc Fox’s chilly surgical suite does Pop Bear come to realize that soda has brought nothing but sadness to his family. In the film’s stirring dénouement, he leads his family to reclaim their health—and their happiness.

This video of The Real Bears is an interesting example of a parody, which is one type of fair use exception to the exclusive rights of a copyright holder.  I don’t know that any challenges or copyright infringement claims have been made against “The Real Bears” video; however, the video provides an interesting opportunity to review the legal standards for a parody.

When a court evaluates if video, or other work, is entitled to fair-use protection as a parody they analyze the four fair-use factors codified in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act.  Here are the four fair-use factors:

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

When assessing whether a parody is entitled to fair-use protection under the U.S. Copyright Act, all four of the factors are to be analyzed and the results weighed together in light of the purposes of copyright.  The purposes of copyright balance the exclusive rights of copyright owners and rights of the public including free speech, criticism and commentary of a work.

FILM CREDITS: The film features an original song, Sugar, by Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter Jason Mraz which he wrote and performed with the San Diego-based rapper MC Flow.

HEALTH FACT ABOUT SODA CONSUMPTION listed on the CSPI website: Soda and sugary drinks are the biggest single source of calories in the American diet, accounting for about 7 percent.

BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.

For personalized legal services you are welcome to contact me at vk@kasterlegal.com

See also, The Real Bears video at http://therealbears.org/#video; the website for The Center for Science in Public Interest at http://cspinet.org/new/201210101.html; the US Copyright Act at www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html; another blog post on parody; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.

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