STATEMENT: DLDF Congratulates Playwright David Adjmi on Fair Use Win (2015)

The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund lends support to Adjmi in “3C” fair use case.

The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund congratulates playwright David Adjmi and his attorneys for their victory in the “fair use” suit against DLT entertainment, the producers of the TV series Three’s Company. DLT claimed that Adjmi’s play, 3C, was an infringement of their copyrights, but Mr. Adjmi was granted a declaratory judgment on the pleadings by Chief U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska, in the Southern District of New York. The Court found that the play was “clearly a transformative use” of the TV show, a parody that functioned as a deconstruction and critique, and the play in no way usurped the commercial market for the TV series, so it was therefore a “fair use” and not an infringement. Judge Preska found that the distinct nature of the works was so “patently obvious” that the court required no further information to render its judgment beyond the pleadings themselves. 

The DLDF viewed this case as important in its potential impact on “fair use”, which is a vital mechanism for preserving the right of free expression under the First Amendment and balancing it with the exclusive monopoly over expression granted to authors under our copyright law.”
In that spirit, the DLDF contacted the playwright at the outset of the controversy to offer its support and, ultimately, submitted a brief to the court on behalf of Mr. Adjmi, as amicus curiae. In fact, Judge Preska’s decision cited specific cases and quotes that appeared exclusively in the DLDF’s brief, so the board was gratified to learn that its involvement may have had some influence over the decision in the case.

The DLDF is grateful to Mr. Adjmi’s attorneys, Edward J. Davis, Camille Calman, and Bruce Edward Johnson from the law firm of Davis, Wright & Tremaine, for allowing the organization to get involved in the case, and the board members congratulate them on their successful advocacy. The DLDF hopes and expects that Mr. Adjmi will now be able to publish and license his play without further interference. 

The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization created to advocate for free expression in the dramatic arts, to encourage a robust public domain, and to support the proper administration of copyright in America.

Amy VonVett