3C playwright sues

After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
3C playwright sues
Posted: 1/30/14 at 07:35pm
Legalities aside, 3C was a mediocre play. It had a few affecting moments, but as a parody, it was lame. Three's Company, silly as it was, was fresher and funnier.

Funny about these so- called "parodies." They often take on the easiest of targets, that are themselves inherently laughable, like Saved by the Bell or The Brady Bunch. And ironically --- and I might add, quite satisfyingly- the hapless target ends up being better than the piece mocking and/or imitating it. Such was the case in this instance; 50's sitcoms were better than Maple and Vine; Some Enchanted Evening is miles superior to the song that takes a dig at it in Merrily We Roll Along; Follies' pastiche numbers pale beside the songs of yesteryear; The Simpsons, though I've never seen it, cannot possibly be worse than that horror of horrors, Mr. Burns. Hell, nothing can!

stevenycguy
Broadway Star
joined:12/7/05
3C playwright sues
Posted: 1/30/14 at 11:52pm
I would highly recommend Bayside the Musical and Showgirls the Musical (both playing on alternate nights at Theater 80) as super-fun parodies, but must agree that 3C was quite a lame parody. It would be best to let this show (3C) quietly go away. I've already seen Showgirls more than once, and think I'll do the same with Bayside - especially since Mr Belding is appearing on February 7 and 8.









Updated On: 1/30/14 at 11:52 PM
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
3C playwright sues
Posted: 1/31/14 at 08:05am
Legalities aside? Legalities are the point here.

The quality of 3C is also beside the point.

It's the fact that a work that falls under the first amendment was being suppressed by threat of legal action. It sets terrible precedent.
newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
3C playwright sues
Posted: 1/31/14 at 08:32am
Clearly there are some who know more about legalities than we dilettantes do, who felt that this wasn't sufficiently protected by the parody paradigm.

I would think that those here who argue against bootlegs and for the rights of copyright holders would be on the side of the creator of Three's Company in this case. If more experienced legal minds decide eventually that this is less a parody than a copyright infringement, that is.

Personally, I couldn't care less; I think both works are too insignificant to discuss.
xyz789
Swing
joined:1/30/14
3C playwright sues
Posted: 1/31/14 at 02:25pm
As people pointed out, it's not about the quality of the play (I'll get to that in a minute), but the fact that you can legally write a parody of something. The Schultz estate and the writers of You're A Good Man Charlie Brown didn't feel threatened by Dog Sees God. This play was at Rattlestick- a 99 seat theater for two months. I don't know why the producers find this play such a threat. It's actually the best PR this play could get.

In terms of quality, I saw 3C and have a copy of the script and I think it's really amazing. The play is challenging, scary and also really funny. I think David Adjmi is one of the most exciting young writers out there. Did anyone see Stunning, The Evildoers or Elective Affinities? They felt new and interesting. I hope this brings new attention to his work because he really deserves to be a major American playwright.




Taryn
Broadway Legend
joined:1/24/04
3C playwright sues
Posted: 1/31/14 at 02:33pm
Whatever people think of the quality of the play, the playwright should have the right to publish and license it. It's his livelihood.
newintown
Broadway Legend
joined:3/3/10
3C playwright sues
Posted: 1/31/14 at 02:56pm
Not if it's determined to be a copyright infringement. That's the issue.
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
3C playwright sues
Posted: 1/31/14 at 04:56pm
But what about it could legally be considered copyright infringement? The names are changed, the characters are different. The approach is different. The only thing that remains the same is the set-up, which is being parodied. Who could confuse 3C for Three's Company: The Offical Live Show?

There are many parodies- on film, on stage, in music- that deviate far less from their sources. Mr. Burns used the likenesses of Simpsons characters, plot, and dialogue without any legal pressure from the far more powerful Simpsons franchise.

This is just an overprotective legal representation attempting to shield an outdated property. If a court sides with the Three's Company estate over Adjmi, it threatens the existence of not only parodies, but works that are based on or derived from pre-existing properties that aren't direct adaptations.

Updated On: 1/31/14 at 04:56 PM
SonofRobbieJ
Broadway Legend
joined:12/10/09
3C playwright sues
Posted: 1/31/14 at 05:09pm
This had me thinking about The Wind Done Gone, which is a parody of Gone With The Wind that went through legal troubles over a decade ago. I found this blurb about the case on Wikipedia...and one has to imagine that 3C might be covered in a similar way:

'The estate of Margaret Mitchell sued (Alice) Randall and her publishing company, Houghton Mifflin, on the grounds that The Wind Done Gone was too similar to Gone with the Wind, thus infringing its copyright. The case attracted numerous comments from leading scholars, authors, and activists, regarding what Mitchell's attitudes would have been and how much The Wind Done Gone copies from its predecessor. After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit vacated an injunction against publishing the book in Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin (2001), the case was settled in 2002 when Houghton Mifflin agreed to make an unspecified donation to Morehouse College in exchange for Mitchell's estate dropping the litigation.[1]
The cover of the book bears a seal identifying it as "The Unauthorized Parody." It is parody in the broad legal sense: a work that comments on or criticizes a prior work. This characterization was important in the Suntrust case. However, the book is not a comedy, as the term "parody" would imply in its common usage.'
Taryn
Broadway Legend
joined:1/24/04
3C playwright sues
Posted: 1/31/14 at 06:20pm
Yeah, I was mostly responding to the people who were saying, "But it's a bad play."
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
3C playwright sues
Posted: 1/31/14 at 06:32pm
If only audiences could be protected from lame parodies.
Theater'sBestFriend
Featured Actor
joined:3/5/13
3C playwright sues
Posted: 2/1/14 at 10:22am
Perhaps someone can enlighten me: how is this remotely a first amendment issue? That prohibits the GOVERNMENT from restricting speech. It does not restrict the subject of a parody from complaining about it or claiming copyright infringement. On the contrary, those are also protected speech. Here it is:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

There is nothing about copyright protection, which is all that is being claimed here, that is incompatible with the first amendment. What better way, though, to revive interest in what many are describing as a mediocre play than to make it a first amendment cause célèbre? Obviously, there are many who would mindlessly jump on that bandwagon.

Is the copyright complaint being used as an excuse to use legal muscle to discourage parody? Can one demonstrate the play is not a knockoff but a legitimate parody according to the guidelines that distinguish those two things? Who spread the word about the copyright infringement complaint in the first place and made that the problem, instead of the play's quality? Knowing that might clarify what's really going on here. Unfortunately, the NY Times article doesn't say.


Updated On: 2/1/14 at 10:22 AM
Vespertine1228
Broadway Legend
joined:10/30/05
3C playwright sues
Posted: 2/1/14 at 11:30am
The people who own the rights for Three's Company are VERY litigious. A few years ago James Franco did an art piece based around the show and they shut it down almost immediately. I think it played New York for two, three days at most. And if James Franco, a major movie star, can't escape them, I think Mr. Adjmi stands little chance.

I really, really hated 3C, but like most people have noted, opinions on the show's quality are kind of beside the point. I will say it was definitely trying to do more than just parody the show like the excellent Showgirls spoof and the not-so-excellent Golden Girls spoof. There was an attempt at content beyond simple mockery.
Theater'sBestFriend
Featured Actor
joined:3/5/13
3C playwright sues
Posted: 2/1/14 at 11:51am
That is very helpful, and clarifying - thank you. It sounds as though the issue may indeed be one of inappropriately using legal muscle and claims of copyright infringement as a pretext to evade parody. I wish the NY Times article had been as clear.

Mindlessly calling this a first amendment issue does no one a favor. The quality of the play is relevant insofar as someone might be motivated to whip up first amendment hysteria to revive interest in a play that can't get attention based on artistic merit. This seems to be a copyright and fair use, not a first amendment, issue (however duller that may sound).

If there is a pattern of intimidating authors, there should be organizations that will represent and stand up for them. They should be able to show the difference between parody and copyright infringement.
Updated On: 2/1/14 at 11:51 AM
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
3C playwright sues
Posted: 2/1/14 at 02:43pm
"This seems to be a copyright and fair use, not a first amendment, issue (however duller that may sound)."

You REALLY don't see how copyright and fair use are connected directly to the first amendment?
Tom5
Understudy
joined:9/23/11
3C playwright sues
Posted: 2/1/14 at 07:44pm
Suppose SNL did a skit based on Three's Company? Suppose it was even more on the nose than "3C" was. Or suppose SNL simply had the actors stand in front of podiums and read from an actual Three's Company's script in mock Shakespearean accents? This is not about bootlegging. It's about suppression. I hope the producers of 3C will counter sue for malicious prosecution.