By Isaac Butler
It turns out that, even with all sorts of moves taken to deflect such a possibility, David Adjmi is now forbidden from allowing subsequent productions of or publishing his play "3C" due to a Cease and Desist letter from the producers of "Three's Company." Full report from Patrick Healy here.
I've written about intellectual property issues and theater many, many times, most recently for Howlround (you can read that sadly prophetic entry here). As writers seek to speak to a culture that is made up in large part by other cultural artifacts, these occurences are going to more, not less, common. The tragic thing here is that C+D letter is almost certainly specious and the show would almost certainly qualify for a parody exemption except that Adjmi and co. are simply too poor to fight the action in court.
As with Patent Trolls, these sorts of IP claims rely on picking on relatively powerless people who cannot fight back. In this case, it also certainly looks like an attempt by a wealthy corporation to insist that only it has the right to interpret its own work. As the reviews note, 3C is a riff on Three's Company that tries to assay the anxieties towards homosexuality and identity and its core. I can't help but wonder if a more innocuous take on the material would've been ignored.
It's very sad and very chilling and a very strong reminder that we theater artists need to get on the rethinking intellectual property bus, even if it means giving up some things that we think are protecting us.