Legality of Parodied Songs in Online Challenges?

I don’t think there’s an official Online Challenges Q&A, and I couldn’t find anything on the forums for something along the lines of this. It’s too late for me, since I’m a senior, but since several of the same Online Challenges are done each year, I think a bit of clarification would be nice for future years.

I’ve been looking at several of the Online Challenges, and I’ve noticed a lot of… interesting choices with the music. For example, I’ve seen a Promote Award video that utilized Fall Out Boy’s “The Phoenix”, which probably isn’t public domain, which is a violation of that rule.

However, I’ve noticed that there are quite a few parodies, like for instance an amazing submission recently posted on these forums. The rules for all the video challenges stated songs along the lines of “public domain” or “original”. Would a parody of a song, which could be transformative from the original work and potentially be protected by fair use, be considered fine for the challenge? If not, does that mean that all songs parodying the beat of a copyrighted song would be instantly not considered for an award?

@GBHS_VEX_Member I know that this question is directed towards the judges but I just want to let you know that we are protected from copyright due to the fair use rule and before we created the video, we had asked our regional director for VEX and he had stated that it was fine to move forward. :grinning:


@tweber could provide an official comment.

Also, there is an Official Online Challenge Q&A Channel on the Vex Forum.

As an unofficial comment from a judge, I would say that most of the time, people unintentionally break copyright rules and/or use a song that is not in the public domain. Despite doing our best as judges, we can’t always find every instance of this, not because we are lazy, we simply don’t have the time to nitpick through hundreds of entries. Even if we do find them, those issues are minor and don’t define the quality of that submission. In terms of a DQ, those are only for extreme cases. However, it is not out of the realm of possibility that a submission could get a DQ for said issues.

In regards to parodies, I think there is no issue at all.


If this becomes a question of one of the judges along the way, we will address it further. Just by reading this, I do not believe there will be any issues. However, I will make a note on your submission of this information. Can you please email and advise who your regional director and submission number is so that I may note that?

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