The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund Files Brief in Support of Fair Use, Parody in David Adjmi's '3C' Off-Broadway

The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund (DLDF) filed an amicus curiae brief in the Southern District of New York Court case Adjmi v. DLT Entertainment LTD. in support of Adjmi's claim that his Off-Broadway production of "3C" was a fair use and a parody of the popular television show "Three's Company". DLT Entertainment claims that the production is an infringement and 'unauthorized derivative work'.

Mr. Adjmi had earlier been the target of a "cease and desist" letter, when "3C" was originally presented at Rattlestick Theater in the summer of 2012. The corporate owners of "Three's Company" claimed that Adjmi's play violated the copyright of the 1970's sitcom and demanded he stay the licensing of the play. In response Mr. Adjmi initially acquiesced, agreeing to withdraw the play for further licensing. But subsequently, in light of support from his fellow playwrights, from attorneys at Davis, Wright Tremaine and the DLDF, he filed suit to obtain a declaratory judgment for the court that his play was a fair use of the copyrighted work and, DLT filed a counterclaim against Adjmi for copyright infringement.

According to the brief: "(Adjmi) authored an original play entitled 3C which parodies (DLT Entertainment's)1970s television comedy series Three's Company, and as such constitutes a proper fair use under copyright law. Anyone reading the script of 3C can tell that 3C is a parody. Assertions to the contrary ignore the very definition of "parody" well established by the Supreme Court in Campbell and by this court in Bourne Co. v. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., 602 F. Supp. 2d 499 (S.D.N.Y. 2009), among many others. (DLT Entertainment's) position that all that 3C adds to Three's Company is shock and vulgarity is clearly contradicted by the play itself. In making such a claim, DLT exhibits a staggering lack of self-awareness. Three's Company was originally credited for popularizing "Jiggle TV" in the 1970s and the Sitcom's success and notoriety is almost entirely based on its crude vulgarity, leering innuendos, and sexual objectification, not by any supposedly ground-breaking critique of the prevailing social mores of the day. Counter-Claimants are clearly disturbed by Adjmi's depiction of their property and now seek to use superior economic power to suppress what they perceive as a disrespectful threat, regardless of the cost to the dramatist's right to free expression."

The Dramatists Guild of America, Inc. (the "Guild") formed the DLDF in 2009 to advocate for free expression in the dramatic arts as guaranteed in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, and to encourage the vitality of a robust public domain, in support of the purpose of the Constitution's "Copyright Clause." A copy of the amicus brief can be found on the DLDF's website

Photo Credit: Peter James Zielinski

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