Roger L. Zissu, partner at Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu P.C. and a leading copyright litigator for 50 years, delivered the Copyright Society of the USA’s 46th Annual Donald C. Brace Memorial Lecture at Fordham on November 17.
Zissu’s speech, titled “Expanding Fair Use: The Trouble with Parody, the Case for Satire,” examined how copyright law addresses challenges presented by parody and satire, and the societal importance of both forms of expression.
As Zissu noted at the beginning of his speech, the Fair Use doctrine has been fertile ground for around one-fourth of the past Brace lecturers. He revisited the topic specifically in the context of satire. Satire, Zissu observed, is one of the oldest forms of literary expression, which provides its consumers a potent form of political commentary that attempts to expose the foibles and follies of society in direct and biting language sometimes tempered by humor. History has demonstrated that parodists and satirists are often among the first victims of a dictatorship, he added, noting the dangers journalists and opinion writers face today in countries like Russia, North Korea, China, and Iran.
“The undisputed bottom line is satirists have always been important and essential contributors to our society as authors of informative and highly useful new creative works whose new and fresh insights we should wish to encourage and not stifle,” Zissu said. To this end, Zissu’s Brace lecture provided an opportunity to explain and appreciate the role of copyright law in ensuring the appropriate contours of legal protection be afforded such works.
Zissu and his father, Leonard, became the second father-son duo to give the Brace lecture, joining the inaugural Brace lecturer Meville B. Nimmer and his son, David.
The Donald C. Brace Memorial Lecture was inaugurated in 1974 by the Copyright Society of the United States. It focuses on issues of domestic copyright, protection of creators, and freedom of the press. Professor Hugh C. Hansen, director of the Fordham IP Institute, delivered the Brace Lecture in 2000.
The Copyright Society is a nonprofit organization that was established in 1953 and is devoted to copyright law awareness and education. Since 2014 the Fordham IP Institute has co-sponsored the Brace lecture.