‘Vape’ is the phrase: Judge permits ‘Grease’ parody

olivia newton john john travolta

“Grease” starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta. Image: screenshot from the movie by way of Paramount Pictures

NEW YORK — A United States decide on Thursday dominated that “Vape: The Musical,” which mocks the blockbuster 1978 movie “Grease,” amounted to truthful use and didn’t infringe the rights of householders of the “Grease” copyright.

Chief Judge Laura Taylor Swain of the Manhattan federal courtroom mentioned Sketchworks Industrial Strength Comedy, the Atlanta troupe that created “Vape,” reworked “Grease” by updating it for the #MeToo period and exposing its misogynistic tendencies.

Written in 1971, “Grease” ran on Broadway from 1972 to 1980, whereas the movie starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.

“Grease” depicts the ups-and-downs of relationships between Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson (Dumbrowski within the musical) and amongst their pals, as they navigate senior 12 months at fictional Rydell High School within the late Nineteen Fifties.

“Vape” had the identical characters and an analogous story.

But it had many variations, together with through the use of millennial slang, highlighting how the teenage characters randomly burst into tune and dance and “looked at least 30,” altering “Greased Lightnin’” to “Prius Lightning” and faulting the “happy ending” the place Sandy underwent a radical makeover to win Danny’s coronary heart.

In a 22-page resolution, Swain mentioned that by maintaining the “Grease” characters and plot arc whereas altering the script and lyrics, “Vape” “comments on how misogynistic tendencies have both evolved since ‘Grease’ was developed and remain the same.”

She distinguished the case from a March 2021 appeals courtroom resolution that Andy Warhol violated federal copyright legislation by drawing on {a photograph} of Prince for a collection of photographs of the rock star, as a result of the photographs weren’t transformative.

“Here, in contrast, ‘Vape,’ when considered holistically, constitutes a parody of ‘Grease’… and thus constitutes fair use,” Swain wrote.

Sketchworks sued after the defendants, representing “Grease” co-authors Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, despatched a cease-and-desist letter, forcing the August 2019 cancellation of performances of “Vape” in Manhattan.

A lawyer for the defendants didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

Sketchworks plans to stage “Vape” in Atlanta and different cities quickly.

“We stood up for what we believed-what we knew-was right,” co-owner Brian Troxell mentioned in a press release. “The right to parody is too important not to fight for.”

The Supreme Court will think about the Warhol dispute in its 2022-2023 time period. JB


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