Dramatists Guild of America president Stephen Schwartz has issued a statement on behalf of the organization in support of 3C playwright David Adjmi, who came under fire from lawyers representing the comedy "Three's Company," which was satirized in his recent Off-Broadway play.
As previously reported, Adjmi was contacted by Kenyon & Kenyon, the lawyers representing DLT Entertainment, who sent a cease-and-desist letter citing copyright infringement, listing 17 points of similarity between the play and the sitcom. 3C uses a scenario similar to "Three's Company," but explores darker implications of American culture in that time. The now-closed production ran June 6-July 14 at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.
Schwartz and the Dramatists Guild, the trade association that represents playwrights, composers and lyricists, issued the following statement July 23:
"We of the Dramatists Guild of America wholeheartedly support playwright David Adjmi who has been facing pressure to silence his play 3C. His work is a darkly comic parody of the sitcom 'Three's Company,' intended to critique the show and the social mores underlying it. The copyright owners of that work have written a 'cease and desist' letter, which would, in effect, require him to stick the play in a drawer forever. But works of parody are protected under the 'fair use' doctrine of copyright law, because such works serve as valuable social criticism. Corporate interests may prefer not to have their properties targeted for mockery, but artists have the right to do so, regardless of the best bullying tactics that corporate profits can buy. And more than having the right to do so, artists have an obligation to critique the vestments of our culture. So we stand with Mr. Adjmi, and are in discussions with him to see what assistance he might require. We hope others will show their support for David as well. Because, by so doing, we demonstrate that culture is too important to be controlled solely by the corporations that claim to own it."
A representative for the Dramatists Guild previously told Playbill.com, "The right of authors to make fair comment on pre-existing work (whether through parody or other forms of fair use) is a First Amendment safety valve in the copyright law, and one we wholeheartedly support, as do the courts. If the author contacts us, we will discuss the issue with him and see how we can help."
The Guild also said help may be available to Adjmi via its newly founded Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, a "non-profit charitable organization which seeks to protect the public's right to a robust public domain, by dealing with issues of censorship and copyright through education and advocacy."