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Copyright question of the day
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gemsling
Copyright was originally designed to give an incentive to create - you get a limited monopoly over your work so that you can sell it. These days copyright is used for much more.

In your opinion, is it acceptable to use copyright as an authorisation method, by refusing to sell to people if you don't like what they're doing with your work?

Example 1: The Samuel French Company denies rights for an all-female cast to perform a production of Grease in which Danny Zuko is played by a girl.

Example 2: A high school adds social comment to a production of Huckleberry Finn by swapping ethnicity of the two lead characters - a black student plays Huck and a white student plays Jim. The publisher (not the author) denies the request for rights on the basis that the author's intent has been modified.

Honest opinions please. (Gathering data from my oh-so-large sample size...)
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This is a tough one isn't it! I would have to say that if the author was alive to have their say, then that is fair enough. If said author says no, then you have to respect their work.

In both of these cases it seems that it is someone other than the author giving the answer on usage of the copyrighted material and I think that is wrong. Collect the rights, but they didn't write it, so can't comment on the "author's intent".

That's hard. On the one hand, it seems quite silly to not allow the examples you mention. What is a girls' school for example meant to do if they don't have a "brother" school, (like Deborah's old school) if they can't get girls to play boys' parts? All-girl scripts aren't exactly heaped up in a huge pile from which to choose.

Why did the high school have to specify the ethnicity of the leads in Huckleberry Finn? Is that normal (to give that much detail when applying for rights), or did they want to make waves about what they were doing? I'm just wondering why the publisher got to know about it. Trying to teach students to be "colour-blind" isn't going to be much good if they're not allowed to do it. But if they were trying to "stick it up the author" so to speak, then I can understand why they were refused the rights. I don't really know enough about the story to know how race relations are handled in it.

I think I'm erring on the side of "yes, it is acceptable", even though it might sometimes lead to ridiculous refusals. I would hate for example to see "The Cliff of Destiny" used to send a message with which I don't agree (as much as I would love to see it performed *at all*). I can't really imagine any message for which such a super-silly play *could* be used, but I'd still like to have power of veto should the question arise. For somebody else to have power of veto - not before I die! Afterwards, I don't suppose it would matter too much really...

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