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PR ethics: Does parody law mean irresponsible firms are in trouble?

If you’re as concerned about the world as we are here at the most forward thinking marketing and PR agency in Manchester then chances are there are a few things getting you down right now. None of which are the passing of summer (not least considering we’re supposed to be heading for the warmest October on record).
One look at the daily headlines is enough to show you the planet is not a sunny place at the moment. The Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership , AKA TTIP, threatens the validity of ‘governance for the people’ and the future of plenty of institutions we hold dear (see this new campaign to save the NHS for details); examples such as London’s Heygate Estate prove that gentrification, which the current government more than approves of, really does destroy communities; tax evasion isn’t just common practice, it’s the modus for many multinationals (such as Apple- as this piece attests to).
With all this in mind, it’s good to see some powers that be actually making it easier for the spokespeople of truth, justice and the ethical way to get their point across.
In an age wherein people consume written content often without taking it on board, the visual cue is king. Infographics, memes and videos continue to rise in popularity simply because the majority don’t read lengthy articles about significant issues. Instead, they skim over the small web-print and frequently hit share before finishing the story. In contrast, everything from short films to powerful pictures have a far better chance of getting the public to stand up and properly take notice.
Whether you see that as an indictment of low attention spans or not, the fact remains.
This week a new law has come into effect here in the UK which will allow clever minds to draw attention to irresponsible firms. Put simply, it’s now OK to infringe on copyrighted logos, websites and similar brand-owned items and content, providing it’s in the name of parody. Already PETA has taken it upon itself to launch,, and perhaps our favourite, Force-Fed & Murdered, which pokes fun and accusatory fingers at British heritage store Fortnum & Mason due its support of the foie gras market.
Here on the Smoking Gun blog we regularly highlight some of the bad behaviour committed by companies, public figures and those in similar positions of influence, both in the Blagger’s Blog each Friday and in stand-alone posts. We certainly can’t see the Parody Law resulting in a lack of material for any of these- mistakes, oversights and complete lack of judgement are part and parcel of everyday life. Nevertheless, we do hope the new legislation will force some of the biggest businesses guilty of hypocrisy and complete apathy when it comes to their responsibilities into a rethink and, eventually, lead them to care a little more about the impact they have on the wider world.
After all, it’s been a long time coming.
But what do you reckon- are we merely enjoying a temporary pipe dream, or could this really make a real difference? Answers on a stamped-addressed postcard to Smoking Gun Towers, or, better still, via the comments form below please.

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