Producer Scott Rudin Going Around Killing Off Licensed Community Theater Shows Of To Kill A Mockingbird

from the promoting-the-progress dept

If you wanted to think of a children's story style "evil" character who must be stopped, you can't get much better than the evil rich out of towner going around the country trying to kill off local community theater productions of a beloved play, so that he can stage a massive Broadway reboot. So, step on up, Hollywood producer Scott Rudin, to the role of evil villain. Rudin is producing a new Broadway adaptation of Harper Lee's classic To Kill A Mockingbird. Of course, there already is a play based on the book, written by Christopher Sergel, that is widely performed around the country. Rudin, however, is producing a totally new version, written by famed Hollywood writer Aaron Sorkin.

Now, a normal, thinking, kind person would immediately recognize that local community theater productions can easily co-exist with this giant Broadway production with all the big Hollywood names behind it. But, that's apparently not Scott Rudin. Rudin's lawyers claim that part of the contract between the company that holds the rights to the earlier play -- a company called Dramatic Publishing Company -- if there is any version of Mockingbird on Broadway, there cannot be any other Mockingbird performances within 25 miles of any city that had a population of 150,000 or more in 1960. First off: what a weird contract. Second: this still seems like something any person with the slightest bit of emotional empathy would ignore in putting on the new Broadway show. But not Scott Rudin:

From Massachusetts to Utah, small community theater productions of "To Kill a Mockingbird" are being shut down under threat of a lawsuit by the producer of the new Broadway production.

It doesn't matter that the new version, penned by Aaron Sorkin, is completely different from the Christopher Sergel play that's been performed by high school students and community theater actors for decades. Nor does it matter that the community theaters paid a licensing fee of at least $100 dollars per performance to the Dramatic Publishing Company, which owns the rights to the earlier version of the play.

What matters, lawyers for Broadway producer Scott Rudin say, is that according to the contract between Dramatic and the Harper Lee estate, most amateur performances can't proceed now that a new version of the story is on Broadway.

Now, you might imagine that this was the kind of thing where the lawyers got ahead of themselves and were more aggressive than they needed to be, and once this started getting attention, Rudin would apologize and say it was all a mistake. But, nope. Not Scott Rudin:

"We hate to ask anybody to cancel any production of a play anywhere, but the productions in question as licensed by DPC infringe on rights licensed to us by Harper Lee directly," Rudin said in a statement.

That makes no sense. If you hate to ask anybody to cancel a production, then you don't have to demand that anyone cancels a production. The fact that it may "infringe on the rights" in the contract does not necessitate action. Rudin still had a choice. And he made a really awful one.

Even Rudin's statement is bullshit. His lawyers are not just "asking" small community theaters who have paid money to license the play to cancel their production, he's threatening them with massive court costs and penalties:

With the dispute unsettled, Rudin's lawyers in late February started sending letters directly to the theaters. The theaters are being threatened with damages of up to $150,000, the Associated Press reports. And so in towns across the country, performers are getting the bad news.

$150,000, of course, is the top statutory damages allowed for willful infringement of copyright. But, it takes a special kind of awfulness to argue that small community theaters who paid for and properly licensed a play are guilty of willful infringement.

And, of course, this kind of evil bullying is working:

Dozens of community and nonprofit theaters have canceled their productions, the AP says. More than 25 are scheduled to perform the original version this year, the New York Times reports. It's unclear whether those productions will proceed.

The Kavinoky Theatre in Buffalo, N.Y., which had sold around 3,000 advance tickets, will replace Mockingbird with an adaptation of George Orwell's "1984." "Thank you for supporting us during this difficult time," the theater posted on Facebook. "As we say in the theatre....THE SHOW MUST GO ON!!!!!!!!"

And at least one local theater has decided not to abandon its production, but rather to move it. The Mugford Street Players, based in the Marblehead suburb of Boston, is moving its performances to Gloucester in order to circumvent the contract's restriction on performances within 25 miles of a major city.

That's... awful. If you've ever been even remotely involved in community theater productions, you know that they're labors of love, rather than any serious moneymaking opportunity. These are people who put their hearts and souls into putting on a performance for their community and now an asshole producer and his high priced lawyers from Hollywood come barging in threatening them with bogus damages for a putting on a different play that they properly licensed.

People should boycott Rudin/Sorkin's production and go see a local community production instead.

Filed Under: aaron sorkin, broadway, community theater, copyright, evil, harper lee, scott rudin, to kill a mockingbird
Companies: dramatic publishing company


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 9:57am

    Coincidence I'm sure.

    The Kavinoky Theatre in Buffalo, N.Y., which had sold around 3,000 advance tickets, will replace Mockingbird with an adaptation of George Orwell's "1984." "Thank you for supporting us during this difficult time," the theater posted on Facebook. "As we say in the theatre....THE SHOW MUST GO ON!!!!!!!!"

    Jackass thug runs around threatening people who are doing shows in order to cut down on the competition for his show.

    Theater replaces it with a show about... an authoritarian government that uses, among it's tactics, threats to keep people in line.

    They may have been forced to fold due to the legal thuggery, but that parting shot, if it was intentional and not just a 'strange coincidence', was well aimed.

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    • identicon
      Bobvious, 1 Mar 2019 @ 3:49pm

      Re: Coincidence I'm sure.

      Come see my new play, "To Mock a Sorkinbird", opening soon somewhere way less than 25 BLOCKS away from Broadway.

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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 10:37am

    Double Dipping in the Copyright Era

    What liability does Dramatic Publishing Company have for accepting the payments from the community theaters for the rights to put on their shows when they had this contract with Rudin? Or are they returning those fees?

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    • icon
      Bamboo Harvester (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 10:56am

      Re: Double Dipping in the Copyright Era

      I would think it depends on the dates.

      Anyone paying the rights prior to Rudin invoking the 1960 contract would have prior standing and could perform without (actual) legal threat.

      Anyone paying after Rudin invoked is due a refund and an apology, and could actually sue the Dramatic Publishing Company for fraud.

      Side note on the "what a weird contract"... It's not. Read a few hundred contracts and you'll find far more bizarre clauses in them. Wills are even worse for strangeness.

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      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 11:15am

        Re: Re: Double Dipping in the Copyright Era

        "Anyone paying the rights prior to Rudin invoking the 1960 contract would have prior standing and could perform without (actual) legal threat."

        Does Rudin realize that? Either he or his lawyers should. Do the community theaters know the date of Rudin's contract? A lot of copyright trolling incorporates some form of bluff and bluster, and Rudin contacting community theaters that paid their fee prior to Rudin's contract would be just that.

        Then the question becomes, what is Rudin's liability for being an asshole and lying by omission?

        Come to think of it, wouldn't Dramatic Publishing Company, and or their lawyers, have a responsibility to tell Rudin that they had received payment for X number of performances and from whom and where?

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        • icon
          Bamboo Harvester (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 2:59pm

          Re: Re: Re: Double Dipping in the Copyright Era

          He's in no trouble, if anyone is at fault, it's DPC.

          It's a publicity gimmick.

          He's "re-imagining" a classic work. The usual theatre wonks will go see it, then it'll slide into oblivion. By pulling this stunt he'll fill seats with the "curious".

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          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 3:35pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Double Dipping in the Copyright Era

            Given he's doing it via threatening theaters, I can't help but suspect that the 'theater wonks' might not look too kindly on him or his 're-imagining', such that the 'curious' could(and should) very much be outnumbered by the rightly pissed off and boycotting.

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            • icon
              Bamboo Harvester (profile), 2 Mar 2019 @ 9:18am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Double Dipping in the Copyright Era

              It's free publicity. On a "re-imagined" version of a classic work.

              Most of the "re-imagined" works I've seen are wildly political and cater to a narrow band of the population.

              That said... I rarely watch a movie or TV show that's based on a novel I've read and liked. If I liked it, the original author did a fine job of telling the story. Any "re-imagining" is going to be what someone else thought the story "meant".

              So they're not "re-imagining", they're plagarizing the title, characters, basic plotline, and the fame of the original author to tell a story of their own. If they're that good, why aren't they writing their own stories?

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              • identicon
                Qwertygiy, 2 Mar 2019 @ 5:24pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Double Dipping in the Copyright Era

                I disagree that there can't be a loyal adaptation of a good book that is worth seeing rather than reading. Different media can tell the same story in differing ways that are both excellent.

                I can't imagine a very good visual telling of the Phantom Tollbooth because every single plot point, character, scene, or action taken has some form of pun or wordplay. You lose any subtlety by putting it in visual form; it either has to be pointed out in a jarringly obvious way or it has to go under the radar.

                But there are some stories where the visual aspect brings out things much more memorably than the mere word, even if they are not the closest of adaptations. How much lasting success would the novel Jurassic Park have had without the iconic visuals of the Tyrannosaurus storming through the rain, and the timeless roar echoing throughout theaters? Would anyone still remember Who Killed Roger Rabbit if the toons were never animated alongside live-action actors?

                And, lest you forget, the most popular movie of all-time when adjusted for inflation, Gone with the Wind, was heralded as an extremely faithful adaptation of the book. Most of the changes made were merely to shorten it, and the primary criticism of the film was that it was still too long... a whopping 4 hours!

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                • identicon
                  TFG, 4 Mar 2019 @ 8:09am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Double Dipping in the Copyright Era

                  I won't speak for Bamboo, but I will add this:

                  There's a difference, in my view, between an adaptation and a re-imagining. An adaptation as I use the term attempts, in general, to be faithful to the original story and to change things only to fit the new format. Some are good at this, others are not, some manage to be adaptations in-name-only.

                  A re-imagining, on the other hand, is flat out saying "we changed a bunch of stuff and the story may not be the same," or at least that's how I see it.

                  I generally attempt to take each version of a story on its own merits, personally, as opposed to trying to compare the medium versions to each other in the larger sense. I enjoyed the LotR movies, for example, and I enjoyed the books, and I consider them as separate experiences and don't see much point in comparing one to the other.

                  In the case of a re-imagining that changes the story in way that misses the point of the original, though, I'm not going to be very sympathetic when I liked the original and the point was important - and this is more of a possibility and problem with re-imagined works as opposed to adaptations.

                  That said, this is based on my own personal lexicon and understanding of the meanings of these terms.

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      • icon
        James Burkhardt (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 11:20am

        Re: Re: Double Dipping in the Copyright Era

        Invoking wills to try to disprove that a copyright licence contract is a "weird [copyright licence] contract", is not apples to apples.

        Rather, most of the language in the contract is actually a standard of theater contracts. Non-first run film shows often have a similar clause to defend the theater owner from rights holder from flooding the market in the case of a sudden spike in popularity. I imagine many plays have clauses similar to the one seen here.

        What does make it weird is that it determines the areas affected by 1960 population numbers, if the reporting is accurate. Additionally, the reporting suggests the contract bars, say, any shows in big CA cities if a Broadway show is running in Chicago. These competition clauses are normally geographically based, because of the rationale.

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        • icon
          Bamboo Harvester (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 3:03pm

          Re: Re: Re: Double Dipping in the Copyright Era

          I didn't invoke Wills to disprove anything.

          I merely mentioned that if you found this contract has strange clauses; "Wills are even worse for strangeness."

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          • icon
            James Burkhardt (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 3:40pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Double Dipping in the Copyright Era

            Right, But strange for wills is different than strange for copyright licencing.

            You disagreed that this was a strange contract, on the basis that an entirely different type of contract can be stranger.

            It was readily implied that it was a strange copyright licencing contract. They tend to not involve out of the norm clauses even when bespoke rather than form contracts. Publicly known wills, in contrast, are not traditionally contracts. Nor are they in the majority of Wills. But wills of interest to the public are most often for the estates of the rich, who are used to doing things their way. Due to this, Wills are far more likely to contain strange clauses.

            And that leads to my point. "Side note on the "what a weird contract"... It's not. Read a few hundred contracts and you'll find far more bizarre clauses in them. Wills are even worse for strangeness." It is a strange copyright licence contract. A will, even if we agree it is a contract, has a different style, history, and enforceability. Because of this, what is considered strange in clauses found in a will have no bearing on how strange a Copyright Licence contract clause is. And this clause is particularly strange, implementing a market restriction that lacks geofencing but whose thresholds are based on 1960 population numbers.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 11:28am

      Re: Double Dipping in the Copyright Era

      ↑ this, exactly.

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    • identicon
      Bruce C., 1 Mar 2019 @ 12:08pm

      Re: Double Dipping in the Copyright Era

      Actually part of the fault seems to be with the Harper Lee estate. They apparently signed this licensing deal for the broadway production with provisions conflicting with their existing license with DPC. Most likely the broadway production is paying them more than the DPC license brings in in royalties.

      There is no mention in the article whether DPC is refunding licensing fees for a license that is (apparently) no longer valid.

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  • icon
    Gary (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 10:40am

    Missed

    I think Mike is missing the point here - without such harsh copyright laws, and strict enforcement, why would Harper Lee ever create new works?

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    • icon
      Wolfie0827 (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 10:52am

      Re: Missed

      You forgot your sarcasm tag.

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      • icon
        Thad (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 11:42am

        Re: Re: Missed

        Thanks for explaining the joke!

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      • identicon
        ryuugami, 1 Mar 2019 @ 11:51am

        Re: Re: Missed

        You forgot your sarcasm tag.

        While it is customary to put sarcasm marks or tags to stave off idiots from taking a sarcastic statement literally, it is by no means a requirement. On occasion, sarcasm is more effective when not clearly marked as such.

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        • icon
          Bergman (profile), 2 Mar 2019 @ 1:55am

          Re: Re: Re: Missed

          Yeah, but I'm surprised Blue didn't illustrate Poe's Law for us.

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          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Mar 2019 @ 5:16am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Missed

            "Yeah, but I'm surprised Blue didn't illustrate Poe's Law for us."

            He did.

            Blue/bobmail's been busy explaining that without such harsh copyright protection there would be incentive to kill the creator of the works.

            Meaning if copyright protection ends at death of the creator, the reason Harper Lee isn't still writing will be because she was murdered.

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    • icon
      Bamboo Harvester (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 11:16am

      Re: Missed

      No, you missed the point. This is a Contractual situation, not Copyright.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 11:37am

        Re: Re: Missed

        The contract is in question is in place to license the copyright, so yes, it's a copyright situation.

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        • icon
          Bamboo Harvester (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 3:06pm

          Re: Re: Re: Missed

          If that were so, ALL productions would be halted.

          It's a Contractual Performance License. Anyone who purchases one or has purchased one from the DPC and is NOT performing the original play inside the areas "banned" by the contract is free to perform the original.

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          • icon
            James Burkhardt (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 3:44pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Missed

            And the licence is only enforceable based on copyright. The performance licence licences the copyright. It only licences the copyright in specific circumstances. Its a copyright situation.

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    • identicon
      David, 1 Mar 2019 @ 1:14pm

      Re: Missed

      I would not actually be surprised if it was her who stood in the way of a fully commercialized Broadway production of her principal work: she was living a rather secluded life. In the last years of her last life, they published her actual first book, "Go set a watchman" and its message is rather murky compared to the "prequel" "To Kill a Mockingbird" her publisher encouraged her to write instead.

      It probably was wise of her not to interfere with the message "To Kill a Mockingbird" was able to carry into the world, but a broadway musical seems even more way off what she would have considered tolerable.

      And to run hogshod over community theatre adoptions would very likely not have been her choice of action. She probably would not have retained the right to make them stop, but the prospective audience might have been inclined to listen to what she had to say in her own words had she chosen to speak up.

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      • icon
        Thad (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 2:38pm

        Re: Re: Missed

        It probably was wise of her not to interfere with the message "To Kill a Mockingbird" was able to carry into the world, but a broadway musical seems even more way off what she would have considered tolerable.

        It certainly would, if this were a musical.

        It isn't. Not all Broadway shows are musicals.

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      • icon
        nasch (profile), 4 Mar 2019 @ 8:57am

        Re: Re: Missed

        And to run hogshod over community theatre adoptions

        Roughshod?

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        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Mar 2019 @ 7:06am

          Re: Re: Re: Missed

          "Roughshod?"

          All in all you'll generally be on safer grounds to assume Harper Lee - or most any actor - wouldn't be caught running anywhere with hogs strapped to their feet.

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    • icon
      keithzg (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 4:01pm

      Re: Missed

      Read this out to my officemate and we both very literally laughed out loud; well played. This certainly deserves first place in the funniest comments of this week, and sure has my vote!

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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 10:43am

    This is disturbing news. In this time of allegations of sexual misconduct running rampant, and powerful movements to uncritically believe the accusations in the absence of any proof, To Kill A Mockingbird is perhaps more relevant today than it's ever been. When this classic story is being suppressed in favor of a modern adaptation where Sorkin freely admits he took liberties with the characterization of the main characters because in the original they were the wrong kind of liberal, does anyone else get the feeling that maybe this isn't being driven by a desire to suppress monetary competition, but rather ideological competition?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 11:35am

      Re:

      i get the feeling you have become less insightful, and more full of crap of late. i don't have an interest in Sorkin's ideology, but yours is clearly showing.

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    • icon
      Thad (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 11:45am

      Re:

      If your only takeaway from To Kill a Mockingbird is that Tom Robinson was falsely accused of rape, I think you may have missed some of the context.

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      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 12:08pm

        Re: Re:

        It's not the "only takeaway" by any means, but it's the part that's really relevant today. The story has the ring of truth because it is true; the stuff that happened to Tom really happened to a lot of black men in the Deep South, and it's very disturbing to see old, historically racist tactics repackaged and deployed by people who make a big deal of being opposed to racism.

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        • icon
          Thad (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 12:34pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          If you can't tell the difference between racially-motivated rape accusations against a powerless black man in the era of lynchings and non-racially-motivated rape accusations against powerful white men in the present day, that's the context you're missing.

          Trying to interpret To Kill a Mockingbird in isolation from its message about racism is...certainly a take.

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 12:56pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            We get it. It is OK to throw out due process when accusing white people. You are not a racist piece of shit, not at all.

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            • icon
              Matthew Cline (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 1:43pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Saying that rape accusations against powerful white men in the present day aren't motivated by race isn't at all the same thing as saying that those accusations must be true, nor is it the same as saying that those men shouldn't be afforded due process. Also, saying that To Kill a Mockingbird is about racism rather than about due process isn't at all the same as saying that white people shouldn't get due process.

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                identicon
                Prinny, 1 Mar 2019 @ 2:02pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                As long as we're on the subject of literature, it's important to be aware of this little thing called "subtext," dood! There's more to a message than just the exact words that were explicitly spoken.

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                • icon
                  Matthew Cline (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 2:12pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I wasn't talking about whether or not Thad's analysis of the book was correct or not. I was saying that Thad's analysis doesn't imply that white people shouldn't get due process.

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                • identicon
                  TFG, 1 Mar 2019 @ 3:12pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Such as the subtext of racial motivation of the accusation portrayed in To Kill a Mockingbird?

                  A subtext which is notably not in evidence in current era rape accusations?

                  I find it amusing that you, Prinny, are all over people for making insinuations of racial motivation in other articles. "Kafka trap" etc.

                  But in this case? Nah, we're missing the subtext.

                  Go explode, dood.

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            • icon
              Thad (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 2:40pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              We get it.

              Thank you for clearly labeling your strawman.

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              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 5 Mar 2019 @ 7:16am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "Thank you for clearly labeling your strawman."

                More of a classic "Reductio ad absurdum", I think. He didn't take the effort to put anything up to knock down.

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            identicon
            Prinny, 1 Mar 2019 @ 1:28pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Not surprised by this, dood. Being narrow-minded and having difficulty seeing things in a broader context is a well-known trait of bigots like yourself afterall.

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          • icon
            Mason Wheeler (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 1:36pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The context you're missing is that there is no "context" that makes the violation of the right to Due Process acceptable. There are people today trying to get To Kill A Mockingbird taken out of schools specifically because it flies in the face of the ideology of always believing the victim. And that's precisely why it needs to stay, and not be messed with by people trying to dilute its message!

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              identicon
              Prinny, 1 Mar 2019 @ 2:00pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Come on, you should know better than that, dood. You make a factual claim that challenges their ideology, and the bigots are gonna jump all over it demanding proof because they're too lazy to do any searching of their own, dood!

              So here, I'll do it because they won't: NBC News editorial calls for removing this book from schools because of the way it "complicates the modern 'believe victims' movement." Apparently the book's use of the N-word can be understood with good teachers, but this vastly more important issue just can't, dood!

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 2:16pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              There are people today trying to get To Kill A Mockingbird taken out of schools specifically because it flies in the face of the ideology of always believing the victim.

              Personally, I had only ever seen discussion about removing the book from schools that were focused on issues in its handling of race in a modern context, and on the ability of most teachers to navigate it. But I could have missed something, so I went looking for these people trying to get it removed from schools for the reason you cite.

              So far, this is what I've found:

              This NBC article from Oct 2017 is predominantly focused on the aforementioned race discussion, however it does include this one sentence:

              Another kind of damage less often discussed is how the text encourages boys and girls to believe women lie about being raped.

              It makes no further mention of that angle.

              And that's... all I've found so far. However, I do see several outraged response pieces that all reference that one line in the NBC editorial - see here and here - and one "sarcastic" piece that advances the "Atticus Finch was a rape apologist" argument as an intentionally absurd one in order to try to argue against a believe-victims mentality.

              Of course this was only a fairly cursory search. Can you point to some of the people you are talking about?

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            • icon
              Thad (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 2:46pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              The context you're missing is that there is no "context" that makes the violation of the right to Due Process acceptable.

              The right to due process applies to being convicted of a crime, Mason. (Which, incidentally, Robinson is in the book. He is accused; he goes to court; he is convicted of a crime. He's not deprived of due process; he's convicted by a racist jury. Are you sure you've read the book?)

              The standards for forming an opinion about somebody are entirely different from the standards for convicting them of a crime. There is no requirement for a criminal conviction for someone to believe someone else is guilty of a crime.

              OJ Simpson? Acquitted for murder. I believe he's guilty.

              Harvey Weinstein? Awaiting trial for multiple rapes; presumed innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law, as he should be. There's no such requirement that I, personally presume him innocent until he is convicted; I believe he's guilty.

              You're trying to apply courtroom evidentiary standards to people's opinions. Which is ironic, because usually you try to claim your opinions are courtroom evidentiary standards.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Thad (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 3:29pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                usually you try to claim your opinions are courtroom evidentiary standards.

                Speaking of which: Last month, you spent two days insisting that the SPLC was guilty of defamation. You didn't seem so hung up on waiting for a court decision before concluding that the accused was guilty in that case.

                You sure seem to have changed your opinion about whether or not it's okay to say somebody's guilty before there's a trial in the past three weeks or so.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2019 @ 11:56am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Don't forget Mason still thinks Brett Kavanaugh is the innocent victim of a hideous smear campaign, so I don't expect the Weinstein mention to tug at his nonexistent heartstrings.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            madasahatter (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 1:55pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            While 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is set in the US South of circa 1950, it basic theme always rings true: refusal to stand up for justice for the innocent is always wrong. This is especially true if the accused innocent is a member of a despised group. And often it takes real courage to take this stand as many are not really interested in justice for the innocent but in vengeance.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 11:46am

      Re:

      No, I'm pretty sure he is just a petty asshole.

      Ex. 1 His abandoned Twitter account

      He seemed mad about TMZ reporting on him raging on Angelina Jolie & other stupid shit he did.

      https://twitter.com/TheScottRudin

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 10:58am

    I can think of only one evergreen, general-use sentence to say here:

    Christ, what an asshole.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 11:00am

    A New Play

    I'm imagining a new play entitled something like "To Kill a Hollywood Producer." Someone needs to write it so all these community theaters have a play to put on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 11:03am

    There's a three-year statute of limitations on infringement.

    At best, this is serious failure to mitigate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 11:04am

    Trapper John, MD was ruled to be a spinoff of the MASH film, rather than the TV series. Would that be relevant here?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 11:39am

    Perhaps they can get the rights to do a retelling of "A Christmas Carol" where Scrooge is a rightsholder who tries to shut down a community-theater performance of "It's A Wonderful Life," which adds the element of it being the protagonist's birthday, with "Happy Birthday" sung at the end.

    That should make a district court judge's head explode.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 11:47am

    On versus off Broadway

    What does on Broadway and Off Broadway mean?
    An Off-Broadway theatre is any professional venue in Manhattan in New York City with a seating capacity between 100 and 499, inclusive. These theatres are smaller than Broadway theatres, but larger than Off-Off-Broadway theatres, which seat fewer than 100.

    By targetting people not in this demographic Scott Rudin is not only pissing off a whole bunch of people, he is wasting his time.

    All he has to do is make sure there are no versions of the play being performed on Broadway and he is golden.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 3:54pm

      Re: On versus off Broadway

      The licencing agreement shuts down all productions, not just Broadway productions. And the licencing agreement seems to shut down all productions a Broadway tour might visit. He doesn't have to do what he is doing, which was a major point of the article. But he can, so he is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 5:41pm

        Re: Re: On versus off Broadway

        It seems that Rudin's argument is not that the license allows him to do this, but that the license requires him to do this.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 12:32pm

    He’s full

    Ok so first of all no way he has exclusive rights to that under free speech grounds and really if he did that you countersued you could pretty much break him financially.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 12:36pm

      Re: He’s full

      Ok so first of all no way he has exclusive rights to that under free speech grounds

      Er...copyright is a thing that exists, Mr. Coward. You will find many articles on the subject here at Techdirt; please feel free to look around.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chryss (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 12:47pm

    I fail to even understand what the point is. Is he using some sort of warped logic that John from Podunk, Idaho who went to see a production near Boise somehow represents a lost sale? Where exactly is the actual harm?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 12:55pm

      Re:

      I have heard that some Broadway productions send their works on the road. Sometimes before the Broadway appearance for, oh let's call it a beta test, and sometimes after the Broadway run. Still, seeing that this is a different play, albeit with the same name, I cannot see any actual harm, unless John from Pudunk doesn't comprehend the difference between written by Christopher Sergel (date) and written by Aaron Sorkin (date).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        madasahatter (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 2:05pm

        Re: Re:

        These road-shows are big budget productions staged in a large local venue. The ticket prices are considerably higher than those of a community theater. Plust the road-show is likely be much more heavily advertised than the local community theater. So John from Podunk would, if he has a couple of functioning brain cells, realize there is big difference between the two productions.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 1:15pm

      Re:

      Copyright is not just about money, but about total artistic control over one's works.

      Let's say I don't like Google's relationship with China, but Microsoft has refused to cave on censorship. In an extreme example, I should be able to opt-in to Microsoft and opt-out of Google.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Chryss (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 1:36pm

        Re: Re:

        True, but don't statutory damage awards (which they threatened) require proof of financial harm? I thought it did, anyway, but freely admit I may be misunderstanding since I'm not a law expert.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2019 @ 6:02pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          No, the point of statutory damages is to make it unnecessary to prove financial harm, which is presumed under the law.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 1:17pm

    If this is valid, then Dramatic Publishing should not have licensed the play without warning the communitys theater* that the rug could be yanked from under them.

    As for my own work, I would never make any high school or lower pay a licensing fee to perform it, but I might ask for the video rights to any production of it.

    *attorneys general

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    btr1701 (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 1:34pm

    UPDATE: Rudin Allows Local Theaters to Perform Sorkin's Version

    After a number of stock and amateur theater companies were forced to abandon productions of an earlier adaptation of the Harper Lee novel, the producer has taken the unusual step of granting them the rights to stage Aaron Sorkin's smash Broadway version.

    Community theaters from Ohio to Buffalo to Salt Lake City are finding themselves in the privileged position of being able to present the regional premiere of one of Broadway's biggest current blockbusters, one for which many New Yorkers are still scrambling to score tickets.

    https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/scott-rudin-responds-mockingbird-controversy-a-solut ion-1191752

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 1:42pm

      Re: UPDATE: Rudin Allows Local Theaters to Perform Sorkin's Vers

      Not surprised. This is perfectly consistent with my theory above that this is motivated by a desire to suppress ideological competition rather than the more traditional commercial variety.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        jupiterkansas (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 2:22pm

        Re: Re: UPDATE: Rudin Allows Local Theaters to Perform Sorkin's

        Sounds more like they get to back out of some really bad publicity (and potential boycott) AND collect the royalties on all those regional shows.

        You really think they're putting shows up on Broadway for ideological reasons? Broadway is all about making money.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Mar 2019 @ 8:50am

        Re: Re: UPDATE: Rudin Allows Local Theaters to Perform Sorkin's

        It's also perfectly consistent with the opposite of your theory, so...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 2:13pm

      Re: UPDATE: Rudin Allows Local Theaters to Perform Sorkin's Vers

      ""Letting these theaters do it now is a substantial give for us, obviously, because it's really not in our interest to have the play out anywhere but on Broadway right now," he added."

      Because people who attend local community theaters often do so in between flying to catch matinees on Broadway.

      Its not a fucking movie you asshole, it is a play.
      People able to will try to see it on Boradway... some small cities show isn't going to steal a single fscking thing from you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        jupiterkansas (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 2:17pm

        Re: Re: UPDATE: Rudin Allows Local Theaters to Perform Sorkin's

        Yeah, they're not flying to New York to see To Kill a Mockingbird. They're going to see Jeff Daniels and other movie stars.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Chryss (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 2:22pm

        Re: Re: UPDATE: Rudin Allows Local Theaters to Perform Sorkin's

        Yep, this is the point I was trying to make above.

        Also, in the case of schools, they will often do a play like this in conjunction with reading it in an English class. I doubt the teachers are going to be thrilled with putting on the new show, which apparently deviates significantly from the original source material.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 2:59pm

          Re: Re: Re: UPDATE: Rudin Allows Local Theaters to Perform Sorki

          I doubt the teachers are going to be thrilled with putting on the new show, which apparently deviates significantly from the original source material.

          In my Grade 11 (iirc) English class we read Heart of Darkness then watched Apocalypse Now, and then watched the doc Hearts of Darkness, all as fuel for multiple lessons about literary adaptation including radical reimaginings. In an earlier year (I forget which) we watched the 1996 movie of Romeo & Juliet after reading the play, again in order to discuss adaptation (in this case specifically the huge range of shakespeare adaptations). I assure you, high school English teachers are quite capable of dealing with a fresh take on TKAM.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 3:50pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: UPDATE: Rudin Allows Local Theaters to Perform S

            One thing to choose to study a new take on an older work, anther entirely to be presented with the 'choice' of 'You present my version or you don't present any version.'

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 3:15pm

          Re: Re: Re: UPDATE: Rudin Allows Local Theaters to Perform Sorki

          Besides which if they are already in rehearsals, that has been wasted effort.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bamboo Harvester (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 2:55pm

      Re: UPDATE: Rudin Allows Local Theaters to Perform Sorkin's Vers

      So they're allowed to put on a different play with the same name, giving Sorkin yet more publicity for his version.

      What's next, Oprah's version of Cats?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 10:28pm

        What's next, Oprah's version of Cats?

        Better that than Trump's version, which ends unhappily after he tries to grab them.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 3:45pm

      'Truly, you have been blessed this day.'

      Community theaters from Ohio to Buffalo to Salt Lake City are finding themselves in the privileged position of being able to present the regional premiere of one of Broadway's biggest current blockbusters, one for which many New Yorkers are still scrambling to score tickets.

      'Rejoice peasants, for you shall be graciously allowed to provide me, one who is clearly your better, with free publicity and present my take on the story!'

      Yeah, think I'm going to have to agree even more with Stephen's take on this particular individual.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 3:40pm

    To kill “To kill A Mockingbird”. Since a license from Harper Lee is apparently to worth anything, community theaters should take note and never license or produce this play again. It’s a shame, but that’s the environment they want to create.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    keithzg (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 3:49pm

    The Kavinoky Theatre in Buffalo, N.Y., which had sold around 3,000 advance tickets, will replace Mockingbird with an adaptation of George Orwell's "1984."

    Well played, Kavinoky Theatre, well played.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 5:30pm

    It is interesting that the way Mr Rudin sees to fulfilling the contract is that these local productions should be stopped rather than his project delayed and no more licenses granted until his play's Broadway run is over.

    I guess his profits are simply more important than our culture.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Mar 2019 @ 6:12pm

    "People should boycott Rudin/Sorkin's production and go see a local community production instead. "

    I say take it further and let him know on Twitter and elsewhere what a douche nozzle he's being and then boycott all of his productions. This is among the more pathetic uses of "rights" I've ever heard of and it doesn't have any justification.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    K`Tetch (profile), 1 Mar 2019 @ 9:40pm

    Someone mentioned Abbas Money money Money in another story, and since I'm doing Mama mia later this month...

    "I Sue all night, I sue all day
    I threaten to sue so they will pay

    Ain't it sad

    And still there always seems to be
    another original licensee

    That's too bad!

    In my dreams, I had a plan
    To keep me a wealthy man
    I'd walk and talk around the hall
    with Harper Lee's racial scrawl...

    Money money money
    broadways funny
    it's a richman's world

    money money money
    being scummy
    it's a richman's world!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2019 @ 8:22am

    Something about this story does not make sense. No lawyer for Rubin would go around sending threat letters and talking up copyright damages when his/her client is not the copyright holder deriving title from the original author, Harper Lee. Seems to me that NPR has not accurately stated the facts associated with this matter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Karl (profile), 2 Mar 2019 @ 10:40am

    Issue is with DPC and Harper Lee...?

    If I'm reading the original story correctly, this is a contract dispute between DPC and Harper Lee.

    Under the 1960 contract, DPC can not license performances of their own play (the Sergel play) to theaters in major cities, if there is another licensed version performed on Broadway or similar major venue class.

    Thus, at worst, DPC is in violation of contract and could be sued by Harper Lee. They improperly licensed their version and could be responsible for damages related to that licensing.

    So how is Rudin (not Harper Lee) able to sue local theater companies (who are not parties to this contract at all)?

    Even if Rudin was granted rights holder status under his contract with Harper Lee, it still seems that he could only go after DPC, not the theaters that innocently licenced the play from them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bamboo Harvester (profile), 2 Mar 2019 @ 10:55am

      Re: Issue is with DPC and Harper Lee...?

      Rudin holds the license/contract from DPC that has the "Broadway" clause in it, under conditions that invoke that clause.

      He's using the particulars of that contract like a sword to FORCE anyone attempting to put on the Sergi adaptation of the book to perform either HIS version or no version.

      It's gaining him a lot of free publicity, and I suspect his "envisioning" is going to be some SJW nonsense, so all the "controversy" will have seats being filled that wouldn't have been without it.

      It's actually a very shrewd move. He's not on the hook, DPC is. No idea if it was a planned maneuver or his lawyer(s) spotted the restrictions in the contract and said "Hmmmm..."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Mar 2019 @ 2:47pm

        Re: Re: Issue is with DPC and Harper Lee...?

        You might want to read the article again to examine if it really says that Rudin and DPC are parties to an existing contractual relationship. My reading suggests that DPC and the estate of Harper Lee entered into a contract that relates to the performance of a stage play based on the novel, and that in that contract is a provision for the benefit of unnamed third parties, I.e., a third party beneficiary provision. Rubin appears to be such a bebeficiary, and if the provision is being violated may have a contractual claim against DPC for breach. Importantly, the only one who seems to hold the necessary rights to assert a claim of the type being attributed in the article to Rudin is the estate of Harper Lee.

        Again, the facts are sparse and not at all clear in the NPR article.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2019 @ 4:03am

    "People should boycott"

    From a site which constantly states boycotts don't work?

    I've been saying this for years.

    Now it's an option. :rolls my damn eyes:

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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