A U.S. judge ruled Thursday that “Vape: The Musical,” which pokes fun at the 1978 hit movie “Grease,” constitutes fair use and does not infringe the rights of “Grease” copyright holders.
Manhattan Federal Court Chief Judge Laura Taylor Swain says Sketchworks Industrial Strength Comedy, the Atlanta troupe that created “Vape,” transformed “Grease” by updating it for the MeToo era and exposing his misogynistic tendencies.
Written in 1971, “Grease” ran on Broadway from 1972 to 1980, while the film starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
“Grease” depicts the ups and downs of the relationship between Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson (Dumbrowski in the musical) and among their friends as they navigate senior year at the fictional Rydell High School in the late 1950s.
“Vape” had the same characters and a similar story.
But there were plenty of differences, including using millennial slang, pointing out how the teenage characters randomly sing and dance and “look like they’re at least 30,” changing “Greased Lightnin’ ” in “Prius Lightning” and blaming the “happy ending” where Sandy underwent a drastic makeover to win Danny’s heart.
In a 22-page decision, Swain said that by keeping ‘Grease’ characters and plot arc while changing the script and lyrics, ‘Vape’ “comments on how misogynistic tendencies have evolved. since “Grease” was developed and remain the same. ”
She singled out the case for a March 2021 appeals court ruling that found Andy Warhol violated federal copyright law by drawing on a photograph of Prince for a series of images. of the rock star, because the images were not transformative.
“Here, by contrast, ‘Vape’, when considered holistically, constitutes a parody of ‘Grease’…and is therefore fair use,” Swain wrote.
Sketchworks filed a lawsuit after the defendants, representing ‘Grease’ co-writers Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, sent a cease-and-desist letter, forcing the August 2019 cancellation of ‘Vape’ performances. ” in Manhattan.
A lawyer for the defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Sketchworks’ attorney had no immediate comment.
Judge allows mocking John Travolta’s film https://t.co/HhEfKaoBp8
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