Copyright As Censorship: Lawyers Tell Show Inspired By 'The Princess Bride' To Prepare To Die

from the copyright-is-many-things-none-of-them-logical dept

The Princess Bride remains quite the iconic book and movie for tons of people who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s (and, hopefully, other ages as well... but I can only speak from experience). A huge number of lines have lived on from that movie and become mainstays in popular culture. And like all sorts of great culture, it has inspired plenty of additional creativity around the original as well. A guy named Joe Brack created a one-man show called My Princess Bride, in which he intersperses events and stories from his own life with elements of the book and movie:
While Brack does snippets of re-enactments, he intersperses such scenes with commentary. For example, during a solo parody of the iconic swordfight between Inigo Montoya and the man in black, Brack explains some of the history behind the obscure names of fencers that are thrown around in the dialogue.

But there is also plenty of personal material in the show: At one point Brack talks about the death of his grandmother in 2012.
And, guess what? Just as the one man show was about to come back, someone stepped in with a cease and desist letter, saying that the show infringed. While Brack won't say who sent the cease and desist, there's a pretty short list of whom it might be.

Brack's partner in putting on the show, Matty Griffiths, says they had explored the copyright issues before putting on the show and were reasonably confident that it was fair use -- and it would appear that they have a very strong fair use argument here. But... because of the stupid way our fair use laws work, the only way to definitively know if it's fair use is to spend megabucks on a lawsuit. So, instead, this bit of creativity that people seemed to enjoy... has been shut down. While the two guys seem willing to test it, the theater where they were going to put on the show has bailed out, citing the potential liability.

Yet another bit of creativity completely stomped out thanks to copyright.

Not only that, but it's turning fans of the original into... not fans:
“I’m gutted,” Brack says. “The past two days have been so hard. And whenever I’ve been bummed out and sad, I watch ‘The Princess Bride,’ and I can’t even do that now.”

He owns three copies of the book, and he’s reversed them in his bookcase to hide the titles.

“It feels like I’ve lost a friend,” he says.
Isn't copyright supposed to inspire creativity, rather than stomp it out?

Filed Under: culture, fair use, inspiration, joe brack, my princess bride, one man show, the princess bride

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Dec 2013 @ 2:56pm

    Seriously dude, click on the Reply button. It tidies up the conversations here. Use it.

    I've said this several times already. I am using it. It doesn't work for me. I think it's my VPN messing things up. Sorry about it.

    Anyone who creates anything knows (more than likely) that they'll receive a copyright as soon as they put pen to paper or what-have-you, but it is not the primary reason they do so. Seriously, why are you arguing this?

    I was talking about the movie, music, and book markets that are copyright based. The ones, coincidentally, which produce the movies, music, and books that the majority of people want.

    Copyright law is barely 3-4 centuries old, and there were plenty of creative works done before that.

    Of course. And even today there's many great works not incentivized by copyright. I'm fully in agreement. I'm talking about the popular, mainstream stuff that is incentivized by copyright. The stuff I pay $175 per month to get from my cable company. Like HBO.

    I too am a creative person, but I don't want copyrights on my works. However, I receive them automatically as soon as I put them onto a medium.

    And you can choose to give it away to whomever you want on any conditions you want. Copyright gives you many options.

    As for WB and other studios, they view copyright as a tool, not the end goal. They don't say "Let's make this movie so we have a copyright on it. Great! We've made the movie, only we can distribute it, job well done people!" They create the movie with the intent to sell it and make a profit, and (wrongly in my opinion) view copyright as a tool that helps them do that.

    Yes, it's the tool that incentivizes them to invest in their next movie. They know that they will have the right to exclude others from copying it, and that is significant in their decision to make the movie in the first place.

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