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. icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), 10 Dec 2013 @ 9:08pm


    I'm not sure what you're basing that on. There are all kinds of theft statutes that consider the receiving of something of value without paying to be theft. Look at theft of cable service. That's theft because it's taking something of value without paying.

    I am basing it on my training and experience.

    I fail to see how sneaking into a theater is even closely related to theft of cable service. Theft of cable service is also a separate law. And in my experience the theft of cable service has more to do with breaking equipment and removing service from others than it does stealing service.

    How does that disprove my point that copyright infringement is like theft of services because in each case someone obtains something of value--value created by the property holder--without paying the expected amount?

    I recently purchased (as I often do,) a movie on DVD that I was interested in watching. Usually I use Netflix for this, but the movie wasn't available on Netflix (probably because the company felt it could make more money by stiffing Netflix than it could by working with them, but no matter.) I then ripped it (actually, legally, as the DVD did not have any copy protection, thankfully,) and placed the DVD on to my shelves that have DVDs, and then proceeded to watch the movie on my Linux system using VLC (I don't do Windows, and there aren't any "legal" Linux DVD players out there.) I did not place the video online, and did not "make it available" for anyone to download.

    So, what you are saying is that I didn't pay the expected amount to obtain the DVD I paid for because I used copyright infringement to obtain something of value, created by the property holder, for something they determined I should only be allowed to play on a sanctioned DVD player or on a Windows computer? What if I purchased the DVD and then found out it was copy protected and I couldn't play it on my Linux computer? What if, after buying it, I downloaded it from a torrent in order to play it? So all copyright infringement is like theft of service because customers who purchase a DVD or BluRay, expecting it to play, obtain something of value without paying the expected amount?

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