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Merry Saltzman responds to 'Musical' rights slap down with parody claim

09-Jul-2015 • Bond News

Anyone who has been associated with the James Bond franchise for any significant time smelt something fishy when Merry Saltzman popped out of nowhere and claimed she had secured rights to put 'James Bond: The Musical' on as a Broadway or Las Vegas show.

Sure enough, a couple of days later (after the mainstream media had picked up the story), Danjaq and MGM issued a clear statement that no such rights had been granted.

Today, Saltzman has explained that her show would be a parody and therefore does not need any rights from Danjaq and MGM. She gave a statement to Playbill:

"Eon (sic), Danjaq, and MGM et al's statements are accurate as far as they go. Placeholder Productions' and my statements are also accurate. Placeholder did not claim to have purchased rights to a stage production from Eon et al (nor did we intend to imply we had). Placeholder did (and did claim to) purchase rights to a James Bond musical parody written by Dave Clarke with music and lyrics by Jay Henry Weisz.
"The key word here is 'parody.' Parody, the courts have repeatedly upheld, is fully protected under the fair use principle of the US Copyright Act of 1976 and, as such, does not require permission from the owners of the intellectual property being parodied. "We are producing a parody, no permissive rights are required from Eon, Danjaq, MGM et al to produce our show; it will not infringe on their intellectual property. James Bond: The Musical will go on as planned."

Saltzman did not mention anything about a parody in her original announcement. This omission is not easily waived away as she is now claiming that that is what she meant all along. Had she announced it originally, the news may not have caught as much traction with the press.

Technically, parody law in the USA could cover a spoof production. But MGM have tackled parody before, such as slapping legal action on Austin Powers for using the gun-barrel logo.

Parody or not, 'James Bond' is a trademark owned by Danjaq.

Getting financial backing for a stage production is tough enough, and with the prospect of legal action hanging over them, Saltzman may not find funding easily.

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