Legal Advice Required Urgently

[In the cold light of day, and no longer pissed out of my mind, I’ve changed the first paragraph of my reply to Lucy Davies.]

I’d got a lot to say here about two important affairs
1) the thorough demolition of Lewandowsky by José Duarté at
http://www.joseduarte.com/blog/how-one-paleo-participant-can-change-the-outcome-of-a-study
ably commented by JoNova at
http://joannenova.com.au/2015/01/lewandowsky-peer-reviewed-study-includes-someone-32757-years-old/
2) The recent events in Paris, and their implications for free speech.
But I’ve just received this email, which refers to my article here:
https://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/2071-script-by-duncan-macmillan-and-chris-rapley/
Dear Mr Chambers,
I am the Executive Producer at the Royal Court Theatre, which recently commissioned and produced 2071, written by Duncan Macmillan and Chris Rapley. It has been brought to my attention that you have made an unauthorised recording of the production, transcribed the playtext, and published it in full online. As this is a breach of both our trust and the writers’ legal copyright, I kindly request its removal from your site.
We chose not to produce a playtext as there is a publishing deal in process which your publishing of the text also prejudices.
I will let the copyright holders / writers and their representatives know about this communication. I trust you will agree to respect their legal rights and take down the text immediately.
In anticipation of your understanding and co-operation.
Kind regards
Lucy Davies
Executive Producer
Royal Court Theatre
Sloane Square
London
SW1W 8AS
020 7565 5050
07545 915182

I would greatly appreciate it if anyone reading this who can provide legal advice would contact me in the comments.
I’m not ready to become a martyr to climate catastrophism over the burblings of a depressive playwright who thinks the world would be a better place if he’d never been born; a director who drags her daughter round Europe on night trains in order to avoid adding to the greenhouse gasses emitted by Ryanair; and a second-rate scientist who licked the arse of a minister (Ed Milliband) by hiring a PR agency to put on a show in the Science Museum of which he was director in order to help the minister’s party to win an election, and who wrote a glowing review on Amazon of a book to which he had written the preface (a book in which a number of psychoanalysts and psychotherapists describe their efforts to make their patients more unhappy than they were before); and who loses no opportunity to describe those who disagree about the exact figure for the climate sensitivity to CO2 as “denialists”.
On the other hand, this mail suggests that I am legally obliged to censor a post on my blog. I am unwilling to do this for the following reasons:
I’ve spent the best part of the last four days following the news here in France about the most terrible attack on humanist values that we’ve seen in Europe since the second world war. I know the attacks in London (I was there) and Madrid killed more people, but the difference is in the fact that the Paris attack was targeted on a particular group (and I’ll have a lot to say at another time about Charlie Hebdo).
My feelings about censorship are complicated, as they must be for anyone who is capable of a moment’s reflection. Like many millions, I imagine, I have been affected by the recent events in Paris, and, as a foreigner living in France for the past thirty-odd years, I’ve been forced to revise my opinions about “les valeurs de la République”. [My first request for a “Carte de Séjour” was refused – illegally – thirty years ago by someone at the Paris Palais de Justice where I stood in line with a load of Cambodian and African “demandeurs d’asile politiques”. Once married to a French citizen, I made my first “demande de citoyenneté française. Then, because I moved house, I found that I would have to start all over again, and let it drop.]
End of autobiography.
Recent events in France provide a useful platform for defending the idea of freedom of speech with respect to the question of climate change.
I have frequently expressed my opinion on the censorship of opinion on the subject of climate change, as expressed in the report to the BBC Trust by Professor Steve Jones, or by the editor of Guardian Environment when he declared that “Global Warming was “Official Guardian Policy” (independently of whether temperatures rose or fell?) – that this was anti-science, irrational, and therefore should not be supported by those who believe in free speech.
In the mean time, let me reply to the email from Lucy Davies, Executive Producer at the Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square:

Dear Lucy,

Go fuck yourself.

I don’t quite understand. Is the text of Messrs Rapley and Macmillan a warning to the world that the human race is in danger? (in which case I have performed a service to mankind in bringing it to the notice of the billions who weren’t privileged to hear it recited at the Royal Court.) Or is it the most boring load of nonsense ever uttered on stage cobbled together by a couple of ignorant tossers out to make a fast buck? (In which case I will limit myself to quoting the most boring 15% and leave it to others to quote the rest.)

The recent production to which you refer is clearly designed to change the habits of the entire world, as was the previous performance at the Royal Court written by Stephen Emmott and directed by the same Katie Mitchell.

Both shows were performed before audiences of a few thousand spectators at most. Both performers (Emmott and Rapley) expressed the desire to change the politics of the western world with their performances. Emmott suggested that this would be done by people teaching their children how to kill people. Professor Rapley didn’t go so far, but he seemed to suggest that far-reaching changes would be necessary in our behaviour, without explaining exactly how these changes would come about. The Royal Court normally publishes the scripts of their plays. The Emmott script eventually emerged as a Penguin book. The on-line blurb suggesting that readers teach their children how to kill people was withdrawn, (possibly due to my criticisms).
When Rapley deigns to publish his burbling, I will be happy to reply in a civilised fashion. In the meantime, I will maintain my transcript of his nonsense at
https://geoffchambers.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/2071-script-by-duncan-macmillan-and-chris-rapley/
yours truly
geoff chambers

This entry was posted in Weirdos and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Legal Advice Required Urgently

  1. tbtaaim says:

    I would be careful about going too gung ho over this and taking a ‘censorship’ stance. This seems to me to be a copyright issue, rather than anything else. No matter the odious content, Macmillan and Rapley created a work, have the rights to it and are legally allowed to exploit it (‘it’, not you, or me). As a starting point I would check s182A CDPA linked. There are some defences, inc. public interest. Would be v interested to hear from others if they have a different view.

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/48/section/182A

  2. Tony Newbery says:

    Geoff

    Please email me

  3. catweazle666 says:

    As tbtaaim above remarks, if it really is a warning the whole world must obey to prevent the demise of ‘civilisation as we know it etc. etc .’, which of course IMO it isn’t, it’s just common or garden pseudointellectual bedwetter alarmism – it would seem to be in the public interest that their dire prognostications are broadcast to as wide an audience as possible.

    So a ‘public interest’ would be a good start.

    Meanwhile, keep up the good work and don’t let the bastards grind you down!

  4. The safest approach would be to use the fair use defence and limit your quotations to about 5% of the actual text while dummarising (I meant summarising but the typo seems to fit the purpose) and paraphrasing the rest as you have done in this letter. I think it ill-advised to go anywhere near the legal process except when it is actually necessary – it just encourages lawyers.

  5. There’s no single “right” answer to this issue. I can only speak for copyright law in the United States, but the facts are not in dispute. This work has copyright, protection, and you copied it. That means there is a legitimate concern of copyright violation. The question then becomes whether or not what you did qualifies as “fair use.”

    You clearly have a case for such a defense. That doesn’t mean you would win in the end, but it means your actions are defensible. You have not attempted to commercialize this, and as you say, spreading a message the speaker says needs to be spread is a hard thing to criticize. On top of this, you’ve not reproduced what you’ve copied in full. You’ve made a transformative copy by changing the medium (transcribing a performance). That, combined with the stated desire of the speakers to spread their message, means you can easily argue your actions have a legitimate purpose.

    If a playtext deal were already in place, your actions would be far more difficult to defend. Then your publication would be directly competing with a copyrighted publication. There is no such deal though, and there’s no indication as to when such a deal might happen. There’s also no particular reason to believe your publication of this transcript would interfere with such a deal (despite the letter’s claim).

    When examining the full situation, there’s no question you’ve “violated” their copyright. At the same time it is incredibly unlikely a court case would be pursued as you could likely win with a “fair use” defense. Of course, I can only say this for United States copyright laws. I don’t know that the same would be true in other countries. Even if it were though, I suspect it is unlikely a case would be pursued simply due to the cost of it.

  6. Mooloo says:

    I won’t go into the copyright issues, as Brandon has them covered IMO.

    I would suggest that Stephen Emmott and Katie Mitchell are not your friends. They may well choose to sue in order to punish you. Yes, to do so would cost far more than they would get in damages, but since Macmillan would be paying for them, and you would be paying for you, it would hurt you, not them.

    So I would suggest that you should take the text down immediately, unless your bank balance has a few tens of thousands of quid to pay for the requisite lawyers. Then write basically the letter you have above, saying “I thought you guys wanted this out!” but reluctantly retracting it.

    Then you write endless rude blog comments about what a bunch of arseholes they are. Pretending to save the world, but when it comes to it they are just another bunch in league with the machine, ready to pump a story if it sells, but anxious that no-one else make any money off it. That their pretense of acting in the public good is more about selling themselves than saving the world.

    But don’t fuck with copyright lawyers. This is a slam-dunk for them — even if you do have a public good defense, it will cost a fortune to prove it.

    Mark

  7. Thanks for the useful comments. I wrote the latest post and the letter to Lucy Davies before having read most of them. (For some reason WordPress no longer emails me to signal new comments) but I’m glad to see that the letter I wrote to Lucy Davies is broadly in line with the recommendations of Catweazle, man in a barrel (haven’t I seen you somewhere before?) and Brandon, particularly Brandon’s point about the non-existence of the text elsewhere.
    The advantage of any correspondence resulting from this is that it might encourage Rapley to define exactly what he’s up to. A cynic might suggest that, like Emmott, he’s attempting to use the state-subsidised theatre as a springboard to a writing career.
    I am bothered by the points made by Mooloo. I hadn’t thought of Katie Mitchell as an enemy, since I see her as a typical member of the Guardian-reading class (like me) a victim of a weird brainwashing campaign and in no way responsible for the cult she so fervently believes in (unlike the scientists and journalists, who should know better). I don’t see why Macmillan should pay for them. (He’s the co-writer of the Rapley text, not the publisher.)
    My other worry is that they might get WordPress to close my account.

  8. Mooloo says:

    Sorry Geoff, I read Is the text of Messrs Rapley and Macmillan as a reference to the publisher Macmillan.

    I still think you are playing with fire. People in the publishing industry take copyright protection extremely seriously. and you do not need to be the one sacrificed pour encourager les autres. Moral guilt doesn’t really come into it.

    I’m not a huge fan of modern copyright laws, to put it mildly, but I have issues with brazen breaches of material that is not yet dated.

  9. alexjc38 says:

    Just to add my tuppence worth, the best course IMHO and as has more or less been said, might just be to present some selected parts of the text that have been condensed, paraphrased or otherwise rewritten – much of it could be safely summarised without losing one jot of its meaning, and it would perhaps be somewhat livelier than the original.

  10. Mooloo, Alex
    Thanks for those wise words. You’re right, Alex. I could probably do a summary of Rapley’s discourse. “Do what I tell you, or my grand daughter gets it” captures the essence.
    Mooloo, the quote from Voltaire touched a chord, since I’m currently reading a biography of one of his disciples, Condorcet, a mathematician who, for no obvious reason, took time off from solving problems of differential equations to defend the rights of women, slaves, and the other 99% of the population who had none. If you crossed a Rapley in the 18th century you were liable to have your right hand cut off and your tongue ripped out before being burned at the stake. Those were the days.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s