Category Archives: Satire

Satire

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS – Sellout to China

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Blog by Richard Heagy 

The scene is the four-storey building which houses the almost 500-year old Cambridge University Press, the building itself not being anywhere near that old. Two middle-aged gentlemen are engaged in a serious discussion as to whether or not the Press should publish a recently submitted manuscript. The older gentleman has the look of a worn out professor with his out-of-date suit (frayed at the elbows), red bow tie and rows of wrinkles above his thick framed glasses. He speaks with authority and conviction. His associate, a few years younger, is more casually dressed and has been with the Press almost as long. They have learned long ago to roll with the punches and adjust to changing times in the world and at the Press. Their names were Mr Kow and Mr Tow, respectively. Mr Kow and Mr Tow were both distantly related to former Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, although they did not advertise the fact.

“I say, Tow”, what do you think of this book”? Kow said.

“Well, the Press has never published that type of book before”, Tow said.

“Can’t be too careful”, Kow said. “Taking chances is not the motto of the Press”.

“Not at all”, Tow said.

“Nor the way to keep one’s job”, Kow said.

“Wouldn’t be easy to find other employment at our age”, Tow said. “Not that it’s easy for anyone these days”.

Kow looked at his pocket watch, then at Tow, about to suggest that they go to lunch, but was interrupted by a loud rap on the door. “Enter,” he said, instead of come in—something he had picked up from a play in the West End Theatre District of London decades ago.

A deliveryman in a UPS uniform came in and handed a package to Tow, who was closer to the door. “It’s not addressed to me”, Tow said.

“Nobody here except you guys”, said the UPS driver. “I just need a signature so I can get rid of this package and go on my way. I got a schedule to keep. Don’t matter to me who signs”.

While Tow was thinking over the responsibility involved, Kow said, “I’ll sign for it”, and Tow expressed a sign of relief. Making decisions was not his first love.

Tow quickly handed the package to Kow, who said, “It’s from Beijing”. Tow looked puzzled and Kow said, “That’s in China”.

“I know Beijing is in China”, Tow said, “but we don’t know anyone in China and the package is not addressed to either of us”.

“I think we’re stuck with it”, Kow said. He held the package to his ear and shook it gently.

“Be careful, it might be a bomb”, Tow said as he backed away.

“Nonsense”, said Kow. “The package is very light and I don’t hear anything moving around inside.  I’m going to open it right now or else we will be staring at a Chinese puzzle all day”.

The package was wrapped in brown paper, sealed with brown mailing tape and was securely tied with string. It appeared to be from some official Chinese government agency. Kow found a pair of scissors and cut the string, then peeled off the outer brown wrapping and opened the box. Under the cushioning material he found a much smaller box, bright red in colour and made of sturdy material.

“Anything inside explaining what this is all about”? Tow asked.

Kow rummaged through the cushioning material before shaking his head no.

“That’s a beautiful box”, Tow said. “It would be a shame to rip it apart just to find out what’s inside”.

“You do want to know what’s inside, don’t you”.  Kow asked.

“Yes, and then we need to get back to work”, Tow said.

“You mean after lunch”, Kow said, as he pulled the top off the small red box to find its contents wrapped in tissue paper.  Kow unwrapped the tissue paper very carefully and found a Chinese fortune cookie.

“Is this a joke”, Tow asked.

“If it is, it’s a very expense one”, Kow said, looking at his watch. “If we want lunch, we had better hurry before they stop serving”.

“Bring the fortune cookie along. Today is Thursday so they should have Chinese food, but they never have fortune cookies”, Tow said. “How fortuitous that is”.

“Are you trying to impress me with fancy sounding words”, Kow asked.

“Just a bad habit from University to make my essays longer and sound more academic”, Tow said.

***

Kow and Tow rushed to order their food and then ate at a leisurely pace. They ordered sandwiches as no Chinese food was available. They pushed their empty plates aside and pulled their cups of tea closer. Kow placed the red box on the table, removed the fortune cookie and placed it on a paper napkin.

“They only sent one”, Kow said. “Do you want to toss a shilling for it or split it in two”?

“It’s kind of small to share”, said Tow. “Why don’t you eat it and give me the fortune inside”?

“You’re not allowed to bring your own food”, said the voice of a passing student who was obviously not familiar with the word diet.

The student took a few steps, then turned and stared at Kow and Tow, so they took the fortune cookie back to their office.

***

Back in the office, Kow removed the fortune cookie from the red box, broke it in half and handed the fortune to Tow, who unravelled it—an extremely long, narrow piece of paper.

“I’ve never seen one that long”, Kow said. “Read it to me”.

“One side merely says ‘A SUGGESTION’ and the other side is quite lengthy”, Tow said, who then read it aloud.

IT WOULD BE AN EXCELLENT IDEA AS A FRIEND OF CHINA TO BLOCK ACCESS ON THE CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS WEBSITE TO OBJECTIONABLE ARTICLES FROM THE CHINA QUARTERLY. ENCLOSED IS A LIST OF APPROXIMATELY 300 SUCH ARTICLES.

Kow looked puzzled; then took a closer look inside the small red box.  With the help of a letter opener he scraped a piece of paper from the bottom of the box and unfolded it over and over until it became the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Printed on both sides, it no doubt contained the names of over 300 articles.

“What do we do now”? Tow asked. “It said it was only a suggestion”.

“Bollocks. It did not say it was only a suggestion; it said it was a suggestion”, Kow said. “The meaning is rather obvious and we want continued access to the internet in China. Either we comply or suffer the consequences”.

“We’ll get a backlash from the academic community and be accused of enforcing censorship on behalf of Communist China if we agree to this,” Tow said.

“Look, Apple, Bloomberg and Facebook are accommodating China in order to maintain access to the Chinese market,” Kow said.

“Yes, but that’s all about money,” Tow said. “Who is responsible for making such an important decision anyway”?

“Unfortunately, we are,” Kow said, “or rather, I am.”

“I suppose you are right,” Tow said, “but I am going to protest in my own small way”.

“What are you going to do?” asked Kow.

“I am going to stop eating General Tso’s chicken and egg foo young for one month,” Tow said.

“Those are not really authentic Chinese dishes,” Kow said.

“Doesn’t matter,” said Tow. “One month”.

“Call the IT Department and have them send someone over straightaway to start removing access to the objectionable articles”.

THE END

Satire

BEWARE the REVERSE MORTGAGE

Published by:

Blog by Richard Heagy

The elderly couple lived on a tree-lined street close to the downtown area of a small town that had seen better times, much better times. Unemployment had contributed to the decline, but did not directly affect the retired couple. Then that controversial word “gentrification” reared its ugly head. As often happens, gentrification starts off slowly and suddenly accelerates. Neighbouring houses were torn down and replaced at great expense by much larger homes. The spread between the fixed income of the retired couple and the cost of living kept increasing, primarily because of big property taxe increases on their home due to its location. Many others affected by this situation had moved out, but not them. It would never happen, not after fifty plus years in this cosy home. Still, something had to be done.

Walter and Grace were watching one of their favourite TV programs, actually Grace’s favourite, when it was interrupted by the advertisement about reverse mortgages for the second time. They had been thinking about it for some time. It all seemed so simple. That nice looking actor on the TV told them that he used to think there might be a catch to reverse mortgages, but not so he assured them repeatedly. You could use the money for whatever you wanted—payment of medical bills, home improvements, new car, maybe a boat or a vacation in Las Vegas or Italy. The best thing was that you didn’t have to pay the loan back. Just spend the money.

Grace turned down the volume on the TV, picked up her cell phone and started punching in the numbers on the TV screen.

“What are you doing?” Walter asked.

“Calling the 800 number”, Grace said. “It’s time we did something”.

“Let me have the phone”, Walter said, as he reached for it.

Grace handed the phone to him and said, “I thought you were never going to call”.

“I will”, said Walter, cutting off the call, “but not them. I don’t like their advertising; it irritates me”.

“I think you are jealous of that good looking actor”, Grace said.

“Actors don’t know anything about business”, Walter said. “They are paid to say that the sponsor has a wonderful product—probably hasn’t even used it himself”.

“He doesn’t look old enough to need a reverse mortgage.” Grace said.

“Don’t let the heavy makeup fool you,” Walter said.

“I thought we agreed to get a reverse mortgage, or at least look into it”, Grace said.

“Absolutely”, Walter said. “I’m going to look on the internet for companies that offer reverse mortgages and do a comparison”.

“Next week, or next month?”  Grace asked.

“Right now”, said Walter, who went over to a small desk and turned on his computer and began a search. Finally satisfied, Walter made an appointment with a mortgage broker for the next day and gave him driving instructions to the house.

***

Mr Huff drove up to the residence that was seeking a reverse mortgage the following morning, parked in the driveway and rang the doorbell at exactly 11 a.m. Walter opened the door and said, “Right on time”.

Walter looked outside toward the driveway at a used Chevrolet with a dented front left fender. Mr. Huff quickly said, “That’s a loaner; the only one they had available. I had to leave my Jaguar at the dealer for maintenance again. Jaguars are wonderful cars, but they do require a bit of maintenance. You know how it is”.

Walter didn’t know how it is, or was. He invited Mr. Huff inside and introduced him to Grace.

“Have a seat on the rocker, Mr. Huff”, said Grace. “It’s really quite relaxing”. Across the room, directly opposite the rocker, the TV was on with the volume turned down.

“Actually, it’s Captain Huff, but you can call me Charlie”, he responded.

“What branch of the services were you in”? Walter asked.

“Special Services”, said Huff, immediately regretting his choice as that was the entertainment branch of the military. Actually his only service as a Captain had been with the Salvation Army two years ago.

“I suppose you can’t talk about it or you’d have to kill us”, Walter said with a serious look, before his face relaxed into a grin.

“Let’s get down to business”, said Grace.

“Of course”, said Huff. He opened his briefcase and handed them each a glossy folder with photos and charts, then explained the reverse mortgage program as they reviewed the materials.

The TV had switched to a commercial—about reverse mortgages. “Oh, look”, said Grace, pointing to the TV.

Huff jumped up to turn off the TV, but instead turned the volume up for all to hear “until the last one leaves the home”, then turned it off and returned to the rocking chair.

“I suppose you both know what that means—the last one to leave the home”?

“When I kick the bucket”, said Walter.

“I’d rather not think about it”, said Grace, “but I get the idea”.

“Never mind that”, Walter said. “How much can we get”?

“Let me run some numbers”, Huff said. He pulled out a notepad and calculator and asked, “Are there any loans against the property”?

“About $40,000”, said Walter.

“That will have to be paid off out of the reverse mortgage proceeds”, said Huff.

Walter and Grace looked at each other. “Wait”, said Grace. “I have an idea. Why can’t we just leave the existing mortgage in place and continue making the payments ourselves”?

“That’s a good one,” said Huff.

“Thank you”, said Grace, not understanding Huff’s meaning.

“That’s not the way it works’, said Huff. The new lender wants title to the property to be clear of any liens or other mortgage loans”.

“I suppose that you are going to deduct other expenses”, said Walter.

“A few”, said Huff.

“Could you be more specific”, said Walter.

Huff hesitated before he said, “Costs would include a title search, appraisal fees, recording fees, taxes, postage, termite inspection, preparation of legal documents, etc., etc.”.

“Any your commission,” said Grace.

“Well, yes”, said Huff. “I do have to do quite a bit of work, seeking a loan with the best rates for your reverse mortgage, seeing that all of the paperwork gets done on time, etc., etc.”.

“After all of those etceteras, how much will we get”? Walter asked.

Huff made a few notations on his notepad and used the calculator to come up with the net amount—$63,200.

Walter and Grace looked at each other and agreed that it would have to do. Walter said, “We were hoping to take a vacation in a few weeks if we can get this reverse mortgage done in time”.

“No problem,” said Huff. “We can start right now. I have the preliminary paperwork here, but there will be a few more documents to sign after the loan is approved”. He took out an eleven page contract, filled in several blanks and handed it to Walter. “You both should read it over before you sign”.

“You read it, Walter. I get vertigo every time I try to read anything”, said Grace.

Walter started to read, and then stopped. “I need to find a magnifying glass,” he said. He looked in the desk, went into the kitchen and returned with an opened box of Crackerjack in his hand. He poured some into his hand, offered it to Huff, who declined, and popped it into his own mouth.

“What are you doing, Walter”? Grace asked.

“I am looking for my magnifying glass”. Walter shook out another handful of Crackerjack, retrieved something with his other hand and held up a tiny magnifying glass for the others to see, then ate the handful of Crackerjack. “I usually throw away the toys in Crackerjack boxes but I saved this one”.

Walter sat and resumed reading the eleven page document, occasionally pausing to use the tiny magnifying glass, and then started skimming over the remaining pages rapidly.

“Did you read over the whole document carefully”? Hull asked Walter.

“Yes,” said Walter. “I’m a speed reader”, a phrase Walter had heard somewhere, though it did not accurately describe his reading habits.

“Any questions, either of you?” said Hull. “If not let’s get this document signed”.

***

The reverse mortgage loan had been approved and all that was needed was to wire the money to the borrowers’ account and get a receipt signed. Hull had not slept well the night before, woke up with a headache and realised that he was going to be late for his appointment. He jumped in his car, the so-called loaner, and stopped at a Starbucks drive-through window on the way. They had bananas at the payment window so Hull decided to add a banana to his small black coffee. He finished his coffee by the time he drove up to the driveway, peeled back the banana and started eating it as he walked toward the front door. Hull looked rather silly—briefcase in one hand and banana peel in the other—so he tossed the banana peel over his shoulder.

Once inside, Hull removed a computer from his briefcase, got online and transferred the funds to the borrowers’ bank account. They signed a receipt, thanked Hull and he left. Walter put the receipt in his desk and they sat at the kitchen table for a late breakfast.

“Where’s my morning paper”? Walter asked.

“I though you got it earlier”, said Grace. “It must still be outside. Do you want me to get it”?

“No, I’ll go”. Walter walked to the front door, opened it and saw the newspaper lying in the driveway. What he did not see was the banana peel that Hull had tossed over his shoulder. Walter slipped and fell, hitting his head against a solid ceramic pot that housed a geranium bush. If he were not unconscious, Walter would have said that he had always hated geraniums, as well as a few choice words.

***

Even during bad times Walter always said that they could get better or they could get worse. This time they got worse and worse. First was the hospital, where Walter stayed for several weeks. Grace decided to rent a room across from the hospital so that she could be near Walter, and during the last week of her absence decided to have the house painted as a surprise for Walter when he came home. However, Walter’s condition deteriorated so much that he had to move into a nursing home—directly from the hospital. Fortunately there was enough money left over from the reverse mortgage financing to make the large deposit that the nursing home required. After Walter was settled in, Grace went to their freshly painted home. She fixed herself a drink, a good stiff one, and sat in the rocking chair. She had another one and sat rocking until she fell asleep. Sometime later she awoke to the sound of a loud noise outside the front door.

She opened the door and saw a workman pounding a wooden sign into the ground. “What are you doing”, she yelled as she went round to read the sign, which said FOR SALE. The workman finished planting the sign and looked at his watch just as a tired looking blue Chevrolet drove up. Out stepped HULL, who thanked the workman and handed him a twenty dollar bill.

Grace approached Hull as another car drove up—a Mercedes—and parked next to the Chevrolet.

Grace started yelling at Hull saying repeatedly, “What’s going on”.  The chunky man from the Mercedes joined them and was introduced as Mr Slick, the lawyer for the mortgage company, who would explain everything if Grace would just calm down.

They went into the living room and Hull gave Grace another glass of whiskey. Slick handed Grace the loan document and asked if the signature was hers. Of course it was. Next, Slick asked Grace if she had read the document before signing it.

“No”, Grace said. “Walter read it”.

“Just above the signature lines it says that you and your husband acknowledge that you have read it,” said Slick.

“I don’t understand what’s going on”, said Grace. “Why is there a FOR SALE sign in front of my house”?

“Unfortunately it’s no longer your home,” said Slick. He had used the word home instead of house, but neither Grace nor Hull had noticed. “The lender foreclosed and you didn’t redeem within 6 weeks”.

Grace looked puzzled and said, “I don’t understand why you foreclosed, but we have 6 months to redeem the house”.

“No”, said Slick, “some lenders give you 6 months, but we only allow 6 weeks. You should have read the contract”.

“You can only foreclose when the last one has left the home”, said Grace. “Walter is still alive”.

“Ah”, said Slick, “that is a misunderstanding that many—I mean a few—persons have. If a home owner permanently moves in with a relative or is permanently confined to a nursing home, that person has left the home”.

“What about me”? said Grace. “I am still alive and I am still here”.

“Unfortunately, you do not qualify as a home owner”, said Slick.

“I don’t understand”, said Grace.

“Have you read the deed to the property”? Slick asked Grace.

“Here, take a look”, Slick said as he handed a copy of the deed to her. “The sole legal owner is your husband. Your name is not on it”.

“Walter bought the house before we got married”, Grace said. “I guess he never put my name on the deed”.

“Unfortunate, but everyone has problems”, said Slick, “which reminds me that I am going to be late for golf”.

Hull walked to the TV, turned it on and suggested that Grace just relax for a bit. He and Slick got up to leave and Slick said that Grace could stay overnight and move out in the morning.

Grace had not been paying any attention to the TV or the advertisement then playing, but when she focused on the TV she heard “until the last one leaves the home”.  She finished her drink and threw the glass at the TV, aiming it at the head of that good looking son-of-a bitch she had listened to all these month.

THE END

Farce Humour Satire

PIG SHIT and MOONSHINE – an Alternative Fuel?

Published by:

Blog by Richard Heagy

SCENE: United States Department of Energy, Washington, D.C., office of Rick Perry, Energy Secretary.

(The telephone rings and PERRY answers)

CALLER: Rick Perry?

PERRY: Yeah.

CALLER: This is Al.

PERRY: Al who?

CALLER: Al Gore.

PERRY: I’ve heard the name somewhere.

GORE: Former Vice President of the United States, Nobel Peace Prize winner, as well as a Grammy Award and an Academy Award.

PERRY: I was just kidding.

GORE: I recently saw your interview online with the Prime Minister of the Ukraine.

PERRY: Rather embarrassing.

GORE: The most interesting part was making fuel with a mix of home-brewed alcohol and pig manure based on an invention by the Ukrainian President.

PERRY: You don’t have to remind me. I wish people would forget about it.

GORE: Well, you’re lucky that there’s one person who did not forget.

PERRY: Who is that?

GORE: A pig farmer in Tennessee.

PERRY: Are you sure you are Al Gore?

GORE: Absolutely. Ask me anything about climate change and global warming.

PERRY (to himself): Oh God, if I let him start on global warming I’ll be on the phone for hours.

(PERRY looks at his watch)

PERRY (to GORE): That’s OK. I believe you. You said something about a pig farmer.

GORE: Yes. He has a son at MIT.

PERRY: Good for him.

GORE: That’s the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

PERRY: I know that.

GORE: You’ll never guess what his major is.

PERRY: Probably not.

GORE: Chemistry.

PERRY: That’s a great story – Son of an American pig farmer gets a degree in chemistry at MIT.

GORE: That’s not the story.

PERRY: What is it, then?

GORE: The son came home for summer vacation and of course had to help out on the pig farm. The rest of the time he was on the internet or his smart phone. He saw your interview with the Prime Minister of the Ukraine and showed it to his father.

PERRY: You mean the interview with the fake Prime Minister of the Ukraine.

GORE: Of course, but the farmer asked his son if it was possible to make fuel out of moonshine and pig shit.

PERRY: Obviously not.

GORE: Wrong.

PERRY: Wrong?

GORE: The farmer has a cabin in the mountains in Tennessee and outside is an old-fashioned still where he makes moonshine.

PERRY: Is that legal?

GORE: Only if you have the right licenses.

PERRY: I take it that he doesn’t.

GORE: We’ll skip over that for now.

PERRY: Where is this going?

GORE: It’s going to help the environment and make somebody rich.

PERRY: You mean the pig farmer?

GORE: No, his son the inventor.

PERRY: Don’t tell me that he can produce fuel by mixing moonshine with pig shit.

GORE: He’s done it.

PERRY: Then I guess anybody can do it.

GORE: Not at all. He tested mixing different kinds of moonshine from all over Tennessee with pig shit from his father’s farm, but nothing worked except when he used the moonshine from his father’s still. The local water has something to do with it.

PERRY: How much has he produced?

GORE: Not that much. He needs a grant of about $250,000 to produce more fuel and do proper testing, enlarge the still and get the proper licenses.

PERRY: You mean a grant from the Department of Energy.

GORE: That’s why I’m calling.

PERRY: Thanks to the President, our research grant programs have been suspended and may be terminated.

GORE: All of them?

PERRY: I’m not sure.

GORE: Just think; if this is a success it will make monkeys out of all those people who laughed at you because of the fake telephone interview.

PERRY: That would be nice, very nice.

GORE: $250,000 is not that much when you think about the overall benefits to the world.

PERRY: That’s true. Maybe I could squeeze the money from somewhere in the budget, but I need to see some evidence that this is a viable project and inspect the still and understand the process.

GORE: The still has to be expanded but you can see it in operation, and meet the farmer and his son.

PERRY: What are the names of the farmer and his son?

GORE: Not over the phone, with the number of leaks in Washington these days.

PERRY: Of course not. What was I thinking?

GORE: I don’t want to mention the name of the area or the airport so I will have tickets delivered to your office, for your signature only. Will Saturday work?

PERRY: Absolutely.

(On Saturday morning PERRY takes an early flight on a propeller airplane to a small town in Tennessee, where he is met by the FARMER in a pickup truck. They drive for a half hour or so until they arrive at the farm, located at the end of a dirt road in a wooded area with rolling hills)

PERRY: Where’s GORE?

FARMER: He’s inside.

(Once inside PERRY meets the FARMER’s son, the CHEMIST, and they find GORE in the kitchen)

GORE: Glad you could make it. I see you have already met the CHEMIST.

PERRY: You look a bit different from the last time I saw your photos. Your beard and mustache are a little longer but it looks like you lost some weight.

GORE: Yes, but not easy.

FARMER: Shall we take a look around the farm? You might want to take off your shoes first and wear some boots.

(Now wearing boots, they tour the farm, see pigs foraging in the woods, and learn how pig shit is collected)

CHEMIST: I guess you would like to view the still now?

PERRY: Yes, I want to take a look.

(They hike through the woods, with the trees getting closer together, until they come to a run-down looking log cabin. The still is outside, behind the log cabin and the CHEMIST demonstrates how it works; then they go inside the log cabin)

PERRY (to CHEMIST): I want to understand how this conversion process works.

CHEMIST (to PERRY): Taste this.

(The CHEMIST hands PERRY a Mason jar of moonshine. PERRY tastes it and reacts)

PERRY: Quite strong.

CHEMIST (to PERRY): Take a whiff of this.

(The CHEMIST holds a small container of pig shit up to PERRY’s nose, and PERRY jumps back. The CHEMIST mixes some moonshine with pig shit and places it into a strange looking machine, which begins to turn inside and emit strange noises)

FARMER: This takes a while. Why don’t you city folks sit down and we’ll have something to eat.

(They sit on benches at a wooden table as the FARMER prepares and serves breakfast—eggs over easy, grits with gravy, hash-browns and Spam. The CHEMIST offers GORE and PERRY a glass of moonshine, but PERRY politely refuses)

PERRY: Thanks, but I’ve got to keep a clear head to verify this process. Black coffee would be good, though.

(They take their time eating and finish just as the machine makes a loud noise and shuts off. The CHEMIST then extracts a strange looking liquid—the fuel—and places it into a small air compressor to demonstrate that the fuel works)

CHEMIST: Satisfied?

PERRY: Seems like it works, but obviously it needs to be tested on a larger scale.

CHEMIST: We’ll start immediately when we get the Department of Energy’s grant.

(The CHEMIST gives PERRY instructions on where to send the funds, c/o the FARMER, addressed to general delivery at the nearest post office. Later, the CHEMIST drives GORE and PERRY to the airport in the FARMER’s truck. PERRY departs for Washington and GORE excuses himself as he has a later flight to a different location)

GORE: That went rather well.

CHEMIST: Yes. You did a fine job impersonating Al Gore.

GORE: Well, I have been acting for many years and I do bear a resemblance to Al Gore.

CHEMIST: Please thank the casting agency.

GORE: Are you really majoring in chemistry major at MIT?

CHEMIST: Chemistry was my high school major. Now I am working as a magician.

GORE: You certainly did a fine job with the demonstration.

CHEMIST: We’ll split the money three ways when it arrives.

(PERRY thankfully gets off the shaky prop airplane and walks through the terminal in Washington. Everyone seems to be in a hurry and a tall clean-shaven man bumps into him)

PERRY: You look kind of like Al Gore, without the beard and mustache.

GENTLEMAN: I am Al Gore.

PERRY (slapping his forehead): Oh shit.

GENTLEMAN: Excuse me?

THE END

Humour Legal Satire

MONKEY SELFIE UPDATE – Naruto v. Slater

Published by:

Updated Blog by Richard Heagy

Naruto: I want my royalties!

Naruto v. David Slater, the topic and inspiration for the original December 2016 blog “ENOUGH ABOUT MONKEY SELFIES”, has recently come back to life as the appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by PETA as “Next Friend” of Naruto, so says PETA, has just been heard by a panel of three appellate court judges. For those interested, the hearing may be viewed online at [https://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/media/view_video.php?pk_vid=0000011923]. As previously reported Dr. Antje Engelhardt dropped out as one of Naruto’s Next Friends on May 4, 2016, leaving only PETA listed as Next Friend on appeal, the status of which was questioned during the hearing.

By now, everyone who doesn’t live in a cave must have heard of the famous monkey selfie lawsuit – Naruto v. Slater. For those who do live in a cave here is a very brief summary. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) filed a lawsuit in San Francisco in 2015 for copyright violation against British photographer David Slater et. al. for damages on behalf of a monkey dubbed ‘Naruto’, claiming that Slater does not own the copyright to Naruto’s photo as it is a selfie taken by the monkey. The case was dismissed by the District Court in 2016 and appealed by PETA. The appeal was finally heard by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit last week (July 12, 2017) and copyright lawyers around the world are sitting on the edge of their chairs awaiting the decision.

In the meantime other strange things have happened. On May 30, 2017 a Request FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE was filed with the Court of Appeals in which EXHIBIT A included a copy of a COMPLAINT-SUMMONS for criminal trespass in the state of New Jersey stating that one Antje Engelhardt on 4/22/2017 had rung the doorbell of the residence of PETA attorney Jeffrey Kerr, who told her to leave the premises, after which she walked into the backyard of the residence. Perhaps she has spent too much time walking wherever she wants in the jungles of Indonesia in the company of monkeys, or maybe Jeffrey Kerr has spent too much time representing monkeys and doesn’t want to talk about them. The COMPLAINT-SUMMONS ironically refers to an intent to harass another or cause annoyance or alarm, something that PETA would never do, aside from suing a British photographer in a court almost half way around the world (San Francisco) in what appears to be an attempt to gain publicity with a ridiculous theory that animals can own copyrights.

BREAKING NEWS!

MONKEY’S PETITION BEFORE the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

In an unusual move the 9th Circuit has allowed a last minute petition to be heard in-camera prior to rendering its judgment. The proceeding is not available online as it was held in-camera with members of the public and press barred. Don’t ask how we got it.

***

Three serious looking appellate judges for the 9th Circuit sit behind a long bench in a small courtroom in the James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse in San Francisco, California, all dressed in black and looking perplexed. At a table nearby are seated the petitioner and the petitioner’s representative.

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: May it please the court…

CHIEF JUDGE: You haven’t introduced yourself.

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: I’m sorry Your Honor. My name is Raja.

ASSOCIATE JUDGE: Are you authorized to practice law before this court?

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: No, Your Honor but I came a long way just to be here and it looks like I got here just in time. It took three months.

ASSOCIATE JUDGE: Three months?

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: Yes. NARUTO and I live in Indonesia.

ASSOCIATE JUDGE: Why didn’t you fly?

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: They wouldn’t let us through airport security, so we took a banana boat. The ride was not very smooth and they ran out of bananas two days before we arrived.

ASSOCIATE JUDGE: While I appreciate that you had a long journey, you are not authorized to practice law in the United States.

VISITING JUDGE: This appeal involves an unusual application of copyright law and I think we should make an exception in this case. I myself did travel across the country to be here so I can appreciate what the PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE and the PETITIONER must have endured.

ASSOCIATE JUDGE (to PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE): Are you a lawyer in Indonesia?

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: Not at present.

ASSOCIATE JUDGE: You mean that you are a retired lawyer?

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: No.

ASSOCIATE JUDGE: Then you must be licensed to practice law in some other country.

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: I’m afraid not.

ASSOCIATE JUDGE: Then what makes you qualified to represent the PETITIONER?

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: I’m a mahout.

ASSOCIATE JUDGE: What’s that?

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: A trainer of elephants. I worked in Thailand for many years training elephants to perform in an elephant orchestra, but had to take early retirement because of disability when one of the elephants stepped on my foot. Then I moved back to Indonesia and began helping with monkeys. That’s how I got to know NARUTO, even better than Dr. Antje Engelhardt.

VISITING JUDGE: Are you able to communicate with NARUTO?

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: Definitely.

ASSOCIATE JUDGE: I suppose that you and NARUTO are on a first-named basis.

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: Don’t be ridiculous.

ASSOCIATE JUDGE: This whole lawsuit has been ridiculous from the start.

CHIEF JUDGE: Be that as it may, we may as well proceed.

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: I would like to present NARUTO’s objections to the way the case has been handled.

VISITING JUDGE: You mean the objections that you have on NARUTO’s behalf.

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: Not at all. NARUTO has made his objections known to me.

ASSOCIATE JUDGE: This, I gotta see.

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: You will, but first I wish to demonstrate that NARUTO is capable of manipulating a camera and taking his own selfies unassisted by anyone.

(PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE motions to NARUTO, who stands and moves several feet away. PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE reaches into his briefcase and pulls out a digital camera; then tosses the camera into the air for NARUTO to catch. NARUTO starts playing with the camera and pushes the shutter every so often, alternating between smiles and frowns)

CHIEF JUDGE (to PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE): Our time is limited, so please proceed.

(PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE unsuccessfully tries to take the camera away from NARUTO. He then pulls a banana from his briefcase and tosses it into the air. NARUTO drops the camera in favor of the banana)

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: I would like each of you to look at the photos stored in the camera.

(PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE hands the camera to the Judge on the left who takes a look and passes the camera along to the other Judges)

ASSOCIATE JUDGE: I don’t see any selfies? These are just poor shots, mostly out of focus.

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: Of course. Most of the selfies shot on David Slater’s camera were not worthy of publication, but I have just demonstrated that NARUTO is capable of using a camera to take selfies. If enough photos are taken eventually a good one will result as in the case at hand.

CHIEF JUDGE: Assuming that NARUTO took the selfie that is the subject of this case, what is it that you are seeking?

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: I would like to present NARUTO’s objections to PETA’s representation as his NEXT FRIEND.

CHIEF JUDGE: What are they?

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: I would like to question NARUTO.

(The Judges look at each other and shake their heads. PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE takes NARUTO by the hand and leads him to a seat up front)

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: NARUTO, I would like to ask you a few questions.

(NARUTO jumps up and down in the chair and makes faces at the Judges. PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE hands NARUTO another banana to calm him down)

ASSOCIATE JUDGE: Am I dreaming?

VISITING JUDGE: No, but this is not any more ridiculous than the copyright issue involved.

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: NARUTO, do you wish to have PETA represent you as NEXT FRIEND?

(NARUTO responds with a negative answer by shaking his head back and forth)

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: Why is that?

(NARUTO makes a face and tosses the banana peel across the room. PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE picks it up and tosses it into a nearby wastebasket. He then opens his wallet and extracts a ten dollar bill, which he hands to NARUTO, who examines it closely)

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: It’s about the money, isn’t it?

(NARUTO nods his head to indicate ‘yes’)

VISITING JUDGE (to PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE): You are leading the witness.

ASSOCIATE JUDGE: In addition, the witness is merely shaking his head in response to your questions, not actually answering them.

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: That is no problem. NARUTO, please answer my questions instead of just shaking your head, okay?

(NARUTO nods his head in agreement)

ASSOCIATE JUDGE: I suppose NARUTO speaks both Indonesian and English.

(The ASSOCIATE JUDGE, amused, hits the table with his fist so hard that his coffee cup spills over)

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: Only English.

ASSOCIATE JUDGE: Did he learn English in high school in Indonesia?

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: Of course not. NARUTO learned English during his three month voyage on the banana boat. One of the crew was a former teacher of English as a second language.

CHIEF JUDGE (to PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE): Let’s stop wasting time. Proceed with your questions.

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE (to NARUTO): NARUTO, do you wish to have PETA represent you as NEXT FRIEND?

NARUTO (speaking English with an unusual accent): Where is Dr. Engelhardt?

(The three Judges react with astonishment)

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: I am sorry to tell you that Dr. Engelhardt is no longer participating as a NEXT FRIEND in this appeal.

NARUTO: Bollocks.

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: Please, NARUTO, you must be more respectful in Court.

NARUTO: Sorry.

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: I ask you again, do you wish to have PETA represent you as NEXT FRIEND?

NARUTO: No.

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: Why is that?

NARUTO: They plan to spend my royalties on me and my relatives and other macaques in the community and their habitat.

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: What’s wrong with that?

NARUTO: It’s my money, mine, only mine.

VISITING JUDGE: That’s a valid point, assuming that NARUTO owns the copyright to his selfie. If PETA, or anyone, were to be appointed by the Court to collect NARUTO’s royalties, it would create a fiduciary relationship and the money would have to be held in trust strictly for the benefit of NARUTO.

ASSOCIATE JUDGE: I agree, purely from a theoretical viewpoint. Spending trust funds on other monkeys would be a violation of fiduciary duty.

CHIEF JUDGE: That certainly is a valid concern and will be taken into account.

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE (to NARUTO): Do you have any more objections?

NARUTO: I don’t want to pay some agent 10% to collect my royalties or 33% to any lawyers.

ASSOCIATE JUDGE (to NARUTO): That may be of concern to you, but it is not relevant to whether or not PETA should continue to represent you as NEXT FRIEND in this appeal.

(The ASSOCIATE JUDGE slaps himself on the forehead)

ASSOCIATE JUDGE: I don’t believe this. I am talking to a monkey.

NARUTO: I’m a macaque, not a monkey.

CHIEF JUDGE (to PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE): Any more questions?

PETITIONER’s REPRESENTATIVE: No, that is all.

ASSOCIATE JUDGE (to CHIEF JUDGE): I hope the record of this hearing will be sealed.

CHIEF JUDGE: We will take into account today’s testimony in reaching a decision, but the record of this hearing will definitely be sealed.

VISITING JUDGE: Thank God. If this ever got out.…

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humour Satire

EU SUPER-STATE – EVER CLOSER UNION

Published by:

Blog by Richard Heagy

PROPOSED REGULATIONS

 

Too many politicians are listening to their national opinion. And if you are listening to your national opinion you are not developing what should be a common European sense and feeling of the need to put together efforts. We have too many part-time Europeans.  – Jean-Clod Junker, President of the European Commission

PREAMBLE:

In order to preserve unity, accelerate EU integration and eliminate national identity, the following regulations will be proposed for individuals and companies in the EU.

WORDS AND PHRASES CONSIDERED UNPATRIOTIC TO THE EU, THOUGH NOT ILLEGAL:

Borders

Individuality

Nationalism

National governments

Populism

Public opinion

Sovereignty

COMMON LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS:

German will be the official language of the ever closer European Union.

Newspapers, magazines, TV commercials and outdoor signs must be only in German.

National languages of member states may not be spoken in public from January 1st.

The same rules apply to live or recorded music in public places.

CAUTION: Languages other than German may NOT be spoken in private homes if the windows are open as the prohibited languages may be heard outside; no exceptions will be made in hot weather when air conditioning is not working.

ANOTHER CAUTION: This applies to music played in your home, so keep the volume down.

LABELLING OF PRODUCTS:

All products produced or manufactured in the European Union must state their origin as the EU, not the country or region where produced or manufactured.

RENAMING OF NATIONAL FOOD DISHES:

The following are examples that must be renamed to remove national or regional identity on labels, menus, recipes, etc. The list of examples will be expanded from time to time, as is our custom.

Belgian Waffles

Chicken Milano

Dutch Chocolate

Greek Lemon Chicken

Hungarian Goulash

Irish stew

Italian Spaghetti Sauce

Norwegian Salmon

Spanish omelet

Swedish Meatballs

EXCEPTIONS: Brussels sprouts

REPORTING VIOLATIONS:

We expect everyone to be a good EU citizen and follow the regulations once implemented. Further regulations are under consideration for reporting violations by friends, neighbors or family members.

END

Editor’s Note: Any misspelling of names is purely intentional.

Satire Sketch

British Airways – Check-in Counter

Published by:

Blog by Richard Heagy

(The scene is a British Airways (BA) terminal on a Bank Holiday weekend during which BA has suffered another disruption of its IT system, this time a complete meltdown of its worldwide system. Lines snake back and forth in the departure hall and outside as far as the eye can see. A disgruntled male passenger finally reaches the front of the line and confronts the female agent behind the counter at one of the few check-in positions that is open. He is dressed casually, wearing a short-sleeved shirt that reveals a large bruise on his left arm and a broken wristwatch)

BA AGENT:  May I help you?

PASSENGER: I doubt it?

BA AGENT:  We are doing the best we can, Sir.

PASSENGER:  Do you know how long I have been waiting in line?

BA AGENT:  I have no idea, but if you like I can make a guess.

PASSENGER:  Never mind.

(The PASSENGER looks at the broken watch on his left wrist and places his hand on the counter with a thump)

PASSENGER (continuing):  What time is it? As you can see my watch is broken and my arm is bruised.

BA AGENT:  Sorry about that.

PASSENGER:  Would you like to hear how it happened?

BA AGENT: Not really, Sir. Right now we are very busy.

PASSENGER:  I will tell you anyway, since it is BA’s fault.

(The BA AGENT drums her fingers on the counter impatiently)

PASSENGER:  After queueing for several hours I finally made it inside the terminal and eventually found a place to lie down alongside several other passengers in close quarters where we were furnished with yoga mats. I must have dozed off for a bit, but woke up suddenly with a lot of pain in my arm. One of the passengers was trying to step over me, but ended up stepping on my arm and breaking my watch.

BA AGENT: That’s unfortunate, but all of the passengers are suffering some kind of inconvenience because of the delays.

PASSENGER:  I expect the airline to reimburse me.

BA AGENT:  You will have to file your claim for compensation online.

PASSENGER:  How can I do that when your IT system is dead?

BA AGENT:  I really don’t know, Sir. It’s not my department. You might phone customer service for information. They may be able to help.

PASSENGER: When pigs fly.

BA AGENT:  Excuse me?

PASSENGER: As I said, we were furnished with yoga mats but after a while I started getting a stiff neck. When I asked one of your staff about pillows, he said it would cost £7.

BA AGENT:  That’s not right, Sir.

PASSENGER: Probably wanted to take advantage of the situation and make a little money on the side.

BA AGENT:  Not at all, Sir. Our new CEO raised the price to £12 for pillows.

PASSENGER: You got to be kidding.

BA AGENT: No, Sir. We at BA take our pricing very seriously.

PASSENGER: Pretty soon you will probably cut out all amenities on board.

BA AGENT:  There are no plans for that. Instead, we will charge for everything, no matter how small. Everything is being phased in, as you can see from the notice behind me.

(The PASSENGER looks up and reads the notice out loud)

PASSENGER: Peanuts, 5 p each; paper napkin, 10 p; recycled water, £1.50; plastic cup to hold the water, 75p; key to unlock and lower tray table, £1; toilet paper, £3; use of toilet (3 minute limit), £5.

BA AGENT:  You will need to have exact change as no change will be given on board.

PASSENGER:  You will probably start charging for a cushion on the seats inside the plane next.

BA AGENT:  What an excellent idea. If I submit that as an employee suggestion I may get an award.

PASSENGER:  What about the air outside the terminal while queueing for a delayed flight?

(The BA AGENT looks at the line behind the PASSENGER)

BA AGENT:  Is there anything else I can help you with?

PASSENGER:  Yes, I need a new boarding pass since my flight was changed.

BA AGENT:  I’m sorry but the printer is not working.

PASSENGER:  Maybe you can just write one out by hand.

BA AGENT: Even if I could do that, I don’t have any paper.

PASSENGER:  Use this. Be careful; it’s the only one I have.

(The PASSENGER places a paper napkin of the counter. The BA AGENT looks at the napkin; then at her watch)

BA AGENT:  Oh, look what time it is. My shift is over. Good luck and thank you for choosing BA.

(The BA AGENT walks off and is soon replaced with a new agent)

PASSENGER:  I would like …

NEW AGENT:  Sorry, but my shift doesn’t start for five more minutes.

(The NEW AGENT takes a bottle of nail polish from her purse and places it on the counter)

NEW AGENT (continuing):  I know you have been waiting for quite some time, so a few more minutes should not matter.

ANNOUNCEMENT (over loudspeaker):  We at British Airways are truly sorry for the delays that you have experienced and are doing everything possible to remedy the situation and get you to your destinations. You will hear a personal message from our CEO just as soon as he has finished his afternoon tea.

PASSENGER: Cobblers.

NEW AGENT: What did you say?

(The NEW AGENT starts polishing her nails, spills a few drops of polish on the counter and picks up the napkin to wipe it up)

PASSENGER:  I mean to say bollocks.

(The PASSENGER slams his right fist of the counter and the bottle of nail polish spills all over)

NEW AGENT:  Well, really. There is no need to get upset over a delay; it happens all the time.

 THE END

Humour Satire

PERSONA – the new miracle drug

Published by:

Blog by Richard Heagy

Who needs ‘big pharma’ anyway? A hitherto unknown pharmaceutical company incorporated in one of the lesser-known tax haven islands in the Coral Sea (east of Australia) today filed an application with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval of its new drug PERSONA. Extracts from the filing are as follows.

 

BENEFITS: Relief for persons with irritable personalities. Does everyone think that you are a jerk—even your own mother? Our new miracle drug will make you as lovable as a cute panda.

 

INGREDIENTS: Panda urine extracted from the bark of pine trees where pandas have relieved themselves, combined with three common herbs frequently found in your kitchen.

EDITOR’s COMMENT: Although naming the herbs is not likely to allow you to replicate PERSONA, disclosure might give the impression that the new miracle drug was excessively priced.

 

SIDE EFFECTS (also sometimes called severe adverse reactions):

Bladder pain

Blindness (usually temporary)

Bloating

Blurred vision (no worse than after a few too many drinks)

Constipation (you have probably had this before anyway)

Dizziness

Frequent craving to eat bamboo shoots (avoid using chopsticks in Chinese restaurants)

Itching (could be anywhere or everywhere)

Loss of balance (more common with left-handed persons)

Nausea (stay close to the toilet)

Numbness (usually in the feet and nose)

Rash (sometimes resembling a Spotted Sandpiper or similar bird, but the spots are red)

Risk of falling and bone fractures (try to land on your ass, not your hands)

Shortness of breath

Vomiting (carry a large plastic bag while taking PERSONA)

EDITOR’s COMMENT: If you carry a plastic bag while walking your dog, don’t forget to bring an extra bag for yourself.

 

OTHER SIDE EFFECTS:

Farting during sex

THE END

 

Humour Satire Sketch

French Incivility Brigade vs Dog Poop Street Art

Published by:

Blog by Richard Heagy

The hearings of the Committee on Legal Affairs, on recommendation of the Working Group on Copyright, take place in one of the EU’s modern cost-is-no-object buildings, with ceilings in the lobby so high that Michelangelo could never have painted murals on it unless he wore an oxygen mask and learned to levitate. The hearings today are being held in one of the smaller rooms of the cost-is-no-object building as not all members of the Committee on Legal Affairs are scheduled to be present.

Two members in long black robes with white wing collars are seated on a dais, three steps—not a mere one or two steps—above the floor in the small but well-appointed meeting room. Their shoes, no doubt expensive, are hidden from view by a long mahogany piece of furniture, similar to a long bench or credenza, which curves at an angle of 10 mm per 10 cm of length—the same as the maximum EU curvature rules allow for Class I cucumbers.  The EU flag flies from a pole at either end of the dais.

Their serious faces cast an impression that they have been frozen in time, possibly waiting for Doctor Who to appear. Actually, they are waiting for the third member—the Chairman—to arrive before they begin. In front of the dais are several rows of chairs, divided by a wide aisle in the middle. An usher walks up and down the aisle, quietly offering peanuts or popcorn for three Euros; beer is 6 Euros. The members are not happy about this, but it was one of the conditions of the vendor for selling his shop and small piece of land to the EU.

A Page enters, dressed similar to the Swiss Guards at the Vatican, and blows a trumpet.

PAGE: All rise.

(Everyone stands as the CHAIRMAN enters. The PAGE walks to a small stand, pushes a button and the national anthem of the EU starts rolling. The CHAIRMAN puts both hands to his head in agony)

CHAIRMAN: Turn that thing off. I have an awful hangover…I mean headache. No offence to Schiller or Beethoven, but I do not need ‘Ode to Joy’ this morning, not after last night.

(The music stops. The CHAIRMAN takes his place the centre of the dais and the PAGE tells those in the audience to be seated)

VICE-CHAIRMAN: It looks more like a hangover.

CHAIRMAN: Last night I violated one of most important principles of civilisation.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Which one?

CHAIRMAN: Never drink cheap wine.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: You drank cheap wine? I am appalled.

CHAIRMAN: It was not my fault. We had guests over last night and one of them brought a cheap bottle of wine, the name of which I would never utter in your presence.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: I certainly hope not, but why did you drink it?

CHAIRMAN: My wife opened the bottle, filled the glasses and passed them around before I could say anything. I had no choice.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: There is always a choice.

CHAIRMAN: Not when your brother-in-law brings the wine. Unfortunately, he is above even the slightest criticism in our house; I have to pretend to be nice to him when he visits.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: That must be difficult.

CHAIRMAN: Not really; I took several acting lessons some time ago.

(The PAGE departs and is replaced by the CLERK, dressed in a dark suit, much like a funeral director )

CHAIRMAN (to the CLERK): What is the first item on today’s agenda?

CLERK: There is a conflict between the recently introduced French Incivility Brigade and the rights of street artists, one in particular. That is all I know, being a lowly civil servant and not privy to the documents filed in this matter.

CHAIRMAN: Well, I have not seen them either. Are representatives here to represent all of the stakeholders who have an interest in this matter?

CLERK: Yes—the injured party and representatives of the French Incivility Brigade, Paris street artists, the French Patrolmen’s Association, and Professor Mockingbird, a copyright expert and author of Soft Sculpture and Copyright.

CHAIRMAN: Call the first witness.

CLERK: First witness, representing the French Incivility Brigade.

CHAIRMAN (to BRIGADE WITNESS): Can you explain what the French Incivility Brigade is?

BRIGADE WITNESS: Yes, Your Excellency.

CHAIRMAN: That sounds nice, but Your Chairmanship will do.

BRIGADE WITNESS: A little history, if I may?

CHAIRMAN: Be brief.

BRIGADE WITNESS: Of course. Several years ago Paris had a fleet of Motocrottes, but …

VICE-CHAIRMAN (interrupting): What is a Motocrotte?

BRIGADE WITNESS: A motorised pooper-scooper, used to pick up dog poop. They were expensive and later abandoned after it was determined that they were only collecting about 20% of the dog shit on the streets of Paris.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: I got here on time to hear about dog shit in Paris?

BRIGADE WITNESS: There are more important issues involved.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: I certainly hope so.

BRIGADE WITNESS:  Paris has recently established an Incivility Brigade of about 2,000 security agents to hand out warnings and fines to those who commit antisocial behaviour. They will be uniformed and armed with teargas spray and wooden-handled truncheons.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: So, they are going to deal with bank robbers, jewellery store heists and other serious crimes.

BRIGADE WITNESS: Not exactly. They are going to track down and punish men who urinate against walls in public, litter-bugs who toss cigarette butts on the street and dog owners who do not clean up after their dogs poop on the sidewalk.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: I do not understand how this involves the EU.

BRIGADE WITNESS: The legality of the Incivility Brigade has been challenged by certain street art groups and artists in Paris. Artists in other parts of Europe are likely to encounter similar problems.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: That is an odd one; I would have thought that the dog owners in Paris would be the ones against it.

BRIGADE WITNESS: There have been some demonstrations but no legal action… well, only one.

CHAIRMAN: Please explain, but be brief.

BRIGADE WITNESS: The Mayor was finishing lunch at his favourite outdoor café and an angry dog owner approached him and complained about the new Incivility Brigade. One of the Mayor’s aides stood and told the dog owner to leave or he would be arrested; then stamped his foot to scare off the dog, sat and asked for the bill. Unnoticed by the Mayor or his aide, the dog made a deposit under the Mayor’s chair before running off. After the bill was paid, the Mayor slipped in a pile of dog shit when he got up to leave. A nearby policeman was called to chase after the dog owner and arrest him.

CHAIRMAN: We need to move along. Who is next?

CLERK: The representative of the French Patrolmen’s Association.

CHAIRMAN (to ASSOCIATION WITNESS): Are you here in support of the Incivility Brigade?

ASSOCIATION WITNESS: Not at all. We are against them.

CHAIRMAN: Please explain.

ASSOCIATION WITNESS: We are all in favour of cleaning up crime in Paris, even cigarette butts.

CHAIRMAN: Not dog shit?

ASSOCIATION WITNESS: No. First, Parisians love their dogs and are extremely unhappy with the Incivility Brigade; they will express their anger at all law enforcement officers, including us. Second, it is easier to catch criminals engaged in street crime when they slip on dog shit. We have special non-skid boots, so it is not a problem for us.

CHAIRMAN: Thank you for your insight; you are excused.  Is there someone here to represent the street artists?

STREET ARTIST WITNESS (standing): Right here.

CHAIRMAN: What do street artists have against the activities of the French Incivility Brigade?

STREET ARTIST WITNESS: Their enforcement actions will in some cases violate the protections of street artists under copyright laws.

CHAIRMAN: Such as?

STREET ARTIST WITNESS: The right to integrity—not to have your work altered, or the right to reproduce and sell your work—which disappears if your work is removed or destroyed by overzealous officers.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: Have there been any cases of street art being removed or destroyed?

STREET ARTIST WITNESS: Yes. We brought a victim—the person who filed the initial complaint.

CHAIRMAN: Very well, next witness.

(The next witness is a dog owner, but not the one arrested by the Mayor)

DOG OWNER: I live in Paris in the 20th Arrondissement, where street art is encouraged, at least if it is on a wall.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: Where is yours?

DOG OWNER: On the ground.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: Be more specific—the sidewalk, the pavement?

DOG OWNER: On the sidewalk, but either would qualify for copyright protection. An idea or artistic expression, such as street art, requires basically no creativity, but it must be fixed in some tangible form to be protected under copyright laws.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: We all know the basic principles of copyright law. Why are you here?

DOG OWNER: Because the EU has been revising its rules to provide harmonization of copyright law throughout the 28 member nations. Criminal and copyright laws are in conflict in France; now it the time to sort this out and provide uniformity throughout the EU.

CHAIRMAN: Proceed, if you must.

DOG OWNER: The French Incivility Brigade destroyed one of my sculptures and gave me three fines.

CHAIRMAN: You are talking about street art, correct?

DOG OWNER: Yes. The first fine was for my dog pissing on a fire hydrant. I did not challenge that because the dog piss just went down into the gutter instead of creating anything in a fixed form. Next, my dog started walking away and the officer yelled at him. The poor thing was so scared that he made an extra big poop on the sidewalk. I lit a cigarette to calm down, looked at the poop and could not believe what I saw. It looked very much like a face, with an uncanny resemblance to the officer. I started laughing and stubbed out my cigarette. Then I stuck the butt in the dog shit just where the mouth should be.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: I bet that went over well with the officer.

DOG OWNER: He gave me a fine for dog litter and another for the cigarette butt. When I refused to clean it up he shoved me with his truncheon and I stumbled onto the dog shit, destroying my street art.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: I believe that there is a case pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit—Naruto vs Slater—which involves the question of whether or not an animal may be a copyright owner. If we adopted such a rule in the EU, your dog would own the copyright, not you, in the event that this particular dog poop constituted an artistic expression in fixed form. On the other hand, you might be the author of the dog poop face if you directed your dog where and when to shit, also taking into account your placement of the cigarette butt.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: Let me interject. Depending on the consistency of the dog poop, it may be in fixed form only temporarily; and thus not entitled to copyright protection by anyone.

DOG OWNER: I would like Professor Mockingbird to testify on that point.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: Professor, do you have a first name?

PROFESSOR MOCKINGBIRD: Yes, but I prefer not to say it.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: I am afraid we need it for the record if you are going to testify.

PROFESSOR MOCKINGBIRD (in a soft voice): Elmo.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: Professor, could you please speak up?

PROFESSOR MOCKINGBIRD (louder): Elmo.

(Everyone in the committee room starts laughing, until silenced by the CHAIRMAN)

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: I am sorry to hear that, but what are your qualifications?

PROFESSOR MOCKINGBIRD: I am the author of Soft Sculpture and Copyright, available in either French or English. If you would care to buy a copy, it is available online from Amazon and other booksellers. I am also a guest lecturer on the topic of street art at many universities throughout Europe.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: My understanding is that for purposes of copyright law, a work is considered to be fixed when it is embodied in a tangible, stable and concrete form. Works that are transitory in nature are not protectable under copyright law as they are not fixed. Would you not agree with that, Professor?

PROFESSOR MOCKINGBIRD: Yes, as to dog piss, but not as to street art in the form of soft sculpture.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: Would you care to define soft sculpture.

PROFESSOR MOCKINGBIRD: Street art is typically painted on a wall, on the side of a building or sometimes on the pavement. Soft sculpture is often attached to something, such as a building or a park bench, but can be placed on the ground or pavement. Although soft sculpture typically is made from rubber, latex or cloth, there is no reason why soft sculpture cannot consist of dog shit.

COMMITTEE AVOCAT: How can dog poop on the sidewalk be deemed to be in fixed form? It is transitory, ready to be swept away or washed away in the rain.

PROFESSOR MOCKINGBIRD: That is not necessarily so, especially in the non-rainy season. Once in fixed form, copyright attaches, even though the creation may subsequently be destroyed. For example, suppose I write a lecture on a piece of paper, read it to an audience and then destroy the paper; my copyright continues.

VICE-CHAIRMAN: Professor, are you sure that you want your lecture notes to be compared with a pile of dog shit?

PROFESSOR MOCKINGBIRD: Never mind.

CHAIRMAN: The EU has received more than enough criticism over the volume of its directives and regulations.  We do not need to add dog shit to the list. Hearing adjourned.

CLERK: All rise. Watch your step when you leave the building.

THE END

 

Humour Satire

We are busy assisting other customers…

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Blog by Richard Heagy

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Please press 4 if you need to fart, as our staff members, though low-paid, are sensitive and refined persons not used to hearing crude sounds. Your call will be placed in a special holding pattern until you return to waiting by pressing the pound sign. In the case of multiple farts, we will give you sufficient time to open your window and press the pound sign before disconnecting you.

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 THE END

Farce Play Satire

Solicitor General in a Cow Pasture

Published by:

Blog by Richard Heagy

NOTE: Procedure in the US District Courts is not necessarily as portrayed in this play, which is a follow-on to the recent blog about Naruto v. Slater entitled ‘ENOUGH ABOUT MONKEY SELFIES.’

 

(The scene is a courtroom, not your ordinary one, but an outdoor setting in a cow pasture. The judge sits on a rail fence, squirming uncomfortably. To one side is a sign on a stick leaning against the fence: U.S. District Court. On the other side is a pine tree, the Plaintiff, with an abandoned piece of sheet metal at the base of the tree; behind it are two smaller trees. In front of the judge sits a large metal drum, upon which a gavel rests. A red barn is in the background and the hot sun is shining above)

JUDGE: Conifer vs. the United States. This is an action against the U.S. Copyright Office filed by a tree.

(The JUDGE pauses, shakes his head)

JUDGE: Is that right Counsellor, a tree?

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: That is correct, unusual as it may be.

JUDGE: Not really, after a while you have seen everything.

(The JUDGE looks around and notices the trees off to the side)

JUDGE: Which one is the Plaintiff?

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY (pointing): The tall one with the drooping branches, nearest the fence.

JUDGE: The complaint alleges that the Defendant has refused to file three copyright applications for musical compositions created by the Plaintiff on the ground that an author of copyrightable material must be a human being. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that Plaintiff has no standing to file a suit, citing Naruto v. David Slater, a 2016 case in which a District Court in San Francisco held that a monkey cannot be the author and owner of a selfie—a photograph of the monkey taken by itself. Defendant also filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, contending that Plaintiff’s material consists merely of sounds that are not subject to copyright protection.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Your Honour, may it please the court…

JUDGE: I prefer ‘Your Excellency.’

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Your Excellency …

(pause)

JUDGE: Your Excellency, what?

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: I was about to say …

JUDGE: Well, get on with it! Do you think I can sit on this rail fence all day?

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Sorry, Your Honour.

JUDGE: Your what?

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Your Excellency. Defendant’s Reliance on Naruto v. Slater is premature at this time.

JUDGE: How is that?

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: The case is on appeal in the Ninth Circuit, which has been known to toss copyright law on its head, and PETA (acting as Next Friend of Naruto) is very determined to pursue the case.

JUDGE: True enough.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: In any event, Naruto v. Slater is not on point, because it involves alleged copyright infringement. The instant case is concerned with copyright registration.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I do not know why we have to hear the case out here in the sticks.

JUDGE: Careful, sonny… In case you have not noticed, the Plaintiff is a tree and can hardly walk to California, unless you believe in Monty Python’s sketch The Walking Tree of Dahomey. We accommodate plaintiffs with disabilities here.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Unlike you lazy bozos in Washington.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I object, Your Honour.

JUDGE: It’s Your Excellency. The next one who says “Your Honour,” is in contempt of court.

(Some cows pass by on their way to the barn. The JUDGE bangs his gavel on the metal drum)

JUDGE: Bailiff, clear the court.

(The BAILIFF shoes the cows away, toward the barn. The JUDGE again bangs the gavel on the metal drum as the cows exit, this time giving the sounds a musical twist)

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: That has a nice ring to it, Your Excellency, very musical.

JUDGE: Thank you.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: You might want to record it; I can recommend a good agent.

JUDGE: Do you really think so?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I object.

JUDGE: You don’t like my music?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: That is not what I meant, Your Honour.

JUDGE: Did I hear you correctly?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I said Your Excellency; I’m sure that’s what I said.

JUDGE: You did not.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I meant to say Your Excellency.

JUDGE: Too late. Bailiff, this man is in contempt.

(The BAILIFF approaches and places a dunce cap on the head of the SOLICITOR GENERAL. The dunce cap is a little too large and the BAILIFF tries to help the SOLICITOR GENERAL adjust it)

BAILIFF: There is a twenty-five cent deposit for the cap.

(The SOLICITOR GENERAL puts his hands in his pockets and comes up empty)

SOLICITOR GENERAL: No change. Will you take a check? I don’t usually travel with cash.

BAILIFF (to JUDGE): Wants to know if we will take a check for the deposit.

JUDGE: The Court will exercise its discretion and waive the twenty-five cent deposit.

(The BAILIFF turns to leave and accidentally steps on the SOLICITOR GENERAL’s shoes)

SOLICITOR GENERAL: These shoes are brand new. Do you have any idea how much they cost?

BAILIFF: No, I wear boots.

JUDGE (to SOLICITOR GENERAL): The United States of America is wasting the Court’s time. Do you have anything more to say?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I have not even started, Your Excellency. I wish to file an objection to the statement made by Plaintiff’s Attorney.

JUDGE: What is it that you find objectionable?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: The whole thing is insulting.

JUDGE: You will have to be more specific. Are you objecting to lazy or bozos?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Both.

JUDGE: Objection overruled as to lazy; it is common knowledge that Congress has not accomplished much of anything for quite some time.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: What?

JUDGE: Counsellor, are you familiar with Rule 201?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Which one?

JUDGE: Rule 201 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. It provides that a U.S. District Court may take judicial notice of a fact not subject to reasonable dispute and generally know. Do you have any evidence to offer to refute the statement that Congress is lazy?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Are you kidding?

JUDGE: Objection overruled, as to lazy.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I still object to bozos.

JUDGE: Because the word bozos is modified by the adjective lazy, it cannot be separated from lazy in this context; objection also overruled as to bozos. You may sit down.

(The SOLICITOR GENERAL looks around, finds nothing to sit on and steps back)

JUDGE (to PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY): Are you ready to make an opening statement?

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Yes, Your Excellency. Plaintiff has filed this action to require the U.S. Copyright Office to register three musical works composed by the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff will call a witness to testify that some sounds made by trees—and in particular the Plaintiff’s—are considered to be music, thus subject to copyright as musical compositions, although they would qualify as sound recordings whether or not considered as music. The Defendant’s refusal is contrary to law.

JUDGE (to SOLICITOR GENERAL): Counsellor, do you wish to make an opening statement for the Defendant.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I do not think it is necessary to take any more of the Court’s time, and I must get back to Washington for an important meeting.

(The SOLICITOR GENERAL looks at his watch)

JUDGE: Was that a yes or a no?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: No opening statement. Instead, I make a motion to dismiss for lack of standing, as Plaintiff is not a human being.

JUDGE: I do not see that requirement in the copyright statute. Motion denied.

(The JUDGE hits the metal drum with his gavel)

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Then, I would like to make an opening statement.

JUDGE: Too late.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: The Rules of Civil Procedure of the Federal District Courts allow …

JUDGE: We have a shorter version out here sonny—in the sticks as you call it.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I need to make a phone call.

JUDGE: Fine, but you will have to step outside the courtroom. Court will recess for ten minutes.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: We are in a cow pasture, not a courthouse.

JUDGE: Bailiff, would you set up the perimeter of the courtroom?

(The BAILIFF enters the barn and returns with a two-wheeled white line marker, which he pushes around to set off a rectangle that marks the interior of the courtroom, ending at the rail fence. The BAILIFF looks down as he pushes the machine, diligently trying to make the lines straight. Near the edge of the proposed boundary, the SOLICITOR GENERAL is dialing his cell phone, but doesn’t notice the approaching BAILIFF)

SOLICITOR GENERAL (into phone): No, I am not calling from a secure phone; I am calling from a cow pasture.

(The BAILIFF, eyes on the ground, pushes the machine over the SOLICITOR GENERAL’s right foot, covering the shoe with white chalk)

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Shit.

(pause)

SOLICITOR GENERAL (continuing – into phone): No, I wasn’t talking to you.

(pause)

SOLICITOR GENERAL (continuing): Hello … hello … hello …

(The BAILIFF reaches the fence, finishing his task, returns the chalk machine to the barn and reappears)

JUDGE: Bailiff.

BAILIFF: Court is back in session.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I was disconnected; I didn’t finish my call.

JUDGE (to SOLICITOR GENERAL): Maybe you did not hear the Bailiff, but Court is back in session. Would you like a recess until tomorrow morning so you can go into town and buy a hearing aid?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: No, no. Everything is fine.

(He looks at his watch)

SOLICITOR GENERAL: If we could just speed things up, maybe I can make the five o’clock train back to Washington.

JUDGE: Give your watch to the Bailiff to hold so you can concentrate on the case.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: It’s very expensive.

(He suddenly covers the watch with his right hand)

JUDGE: A Rolex?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Certainly not. It’s a Patek Philippe.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: The Department of Justice must pay pretty well. I must have the wrong job.

JUDGE: Me too. Any vacancies at the DOJ?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I will just put the watch in my pocket if that will be OK, Your Excellency.

(He takes the watch off and puts it in his pants pocket)

JUDGE (to PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY): Let us proceed. Counsellor, you may argue the Plaintiff’s case.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Copyright law provides two distinct types of protection for musical works, one for musical compositions and another for sound recordings. A musical composition often contains lyrics in addition to melody, but does not always have lyrics.

BAILIFF: What’s lyrics?

JUDGE: Bailiff, your duties do not include asking questions.

BAILIFF: Sorry, Your Excellency.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Lyrics, for the benefit of the Bailiff, are the words that accompany a song, but not all compositions have words, as in Plaintiff’s case. Copyright results the moment the words and/or melody are fixed in a tangible form, such as saved on a computer disk or printed as a hard copy, etc.

JUDGE: We do not use etcetera in this courtroom, Counsellor. Bailiff, strike etcetera from the record.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: When a sound recording is made of the musical composition, a copyright results, which is separate from the copyright in the musical work itself.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Aha! Perhaps you could explain how your client created a copyright in its work by reducing it to writing, prior to recording it. Maybe he wrote it down with a branch.

(The SOLICITOR GENERAL laughs at his own joke)

SOLICITOR GENERAL (continuing): Perhaps we could have a demonstration.

JUDGE (to SOLICITOR GENERAL): Counsellor, approach the bench.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Who me?

JUDGE: Who me what?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Who me, Your Excellency?

JUDGE: That’s better.

(He motions with his index finger and the SOLICITOR GENERAL comes forward)

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Here I am.

(He points at the steel drum)

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I guess this is the bench.

JUDGE: Lucky guess.

(He pounds the gavel on the drum so loud that the SOLICITOR GENERAL jumps)

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Did I say something wrong?

JUDGE: No jokes in the courtroom, got that?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Absolutely.

JUDGE: Absolutely, what?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Absolutely, Your Excellency.

JUDGE: Another thing. Why are you dressed up like a funeral director?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I didn’t realize that we would be in the middle of a … I mean outdoors.

JUDGE: Very well. Let’s continue.

(The SOLICITOR GENERAL moves back and the PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY steps forward)

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: As everyone knows, or at least almost everyone knows …

(He looks at the SOLICITOR GENERAL)

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY (continuing): If a musical composition is not in writing, it becomes fixed in a tangible form when recorded the first time it is sung or played. Two copyrights come into existence simultaneously, one for the original musical composition and another for the sound recording. If the musical composition includes lyrics in addition to melody, then there are three copyrightable works.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I know that. I was just exploring a point.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Naturally, a point that I just explained away.

JUDGE: Can we continue?

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: The copyright to the sound recording belongs to the producer and the copyright to Plaintiff’s music …

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Objection. It has not yet been established that the sounds allegedly made by Plaintiff are actually music.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Your Excellency, I am about to establish that.

JUDGE: Objection overruled.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: I call my first witness.

(He whistles and a back bird swoops down from nowhere and perches on the rail fence)

SOLICITOR GENERAL: You are calling a crow as a witness. Is this, a joke?

(The black bird flies above the head of the SOLICITOR GENERAL and hovers, flapping its wings)

RAVEN: I am a raven, not a crow, you idiot.

(Then it flies back to settle on the rail fence)

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Your Excellency, I object to the word … oh, never mind.

(He looks at his wrist, having forgotten that the watch is in his pocket)

JUDGE (to RAVEN): Take the witness stand.

(The BAILIFF wheels over a large wheelbarrow and the RAVEN flies over and perches on the edge of a handle)

JUDGE: Bailiff, swear in the witness.

BAILIFF: I forgot to bring a Bible.

JUDGE: Just proceed without one.

BAILIFF (to RAVEN): Hold up your right … forget it.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Raven, are you familiar with the Plaintiff?

RAVEN: Yes.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: What is your relationship?

RAVEN: Well, I often rest on its branches and it never complains or tries to shake me off.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Would you say that you were friends?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Aha! Your Excellency, I move to have Raven declared as a hostile witness.

JUDGE: What purpose will that serve?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Well … uh …

JUDGE: Time’s up. Motion denied.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Raven, are you familiar with the sounds that Plaintiff makes?

RAVEN: Of course; I hear them several times a day.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Would you consider them to be music?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Objection. It has not been established that Raven is an expert witness in the field of music.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: I will stipulate that Raven is not an expert music witness, but I merely ask the Court to hear his testimony as a personal opinion, by one who has spent much more time in the woods listening to the sounds of trees and birds than any music professor or graduate of The Julliard School in New York City.

JUDGE: Very well. Subject to the stipulation that Raven is not an expert witness, you may proceed.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: I repeat; would you consider Plaintiff’s sounds to be music?

RAVEN: Kraaa, kraaa, kraaa.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: I beg your pardon.

RAVEN: Sorry, English is not my first language. Sometimes I forget. I meant to say most of them.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Objection to most of them.

JUDGE: Objection sustained.

(He hits his gavel on the steel drum)

JUDGE (to PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY): Counsellor, your question will have to be more specific.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: I would like to offer into evidence this CD, which the Court and Raven may listen to, followed by Raven’s opinion as to whether the sounds constitute music. The CD is attached to Plaintiff’s complaint as an Exhibit.

JUDGE: Very well, you may proceed.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: There are three compositions on the CD, Your Excellency.

(The PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY sets up a battery operated CD player and all gather round to listen to the sound recording, their facial expressions varying from time to time. The first one emits various sounds, including branches creaking and swaying in the wind, leaves rustling and branches snapping back, returning to position as squirrels jump from one branch to the next)

SOLICITOR GENERAL:  Your Excellency, this is not a recording of a musical composition, and cannot possibly qualify for copyright protection. It is just loud sounds, and basic ones at that.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Music is not the only sound that can be recorded.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Yes, but this case is about the Plaintiff’s alleged copyright in a recorded musical composition, not the recording of basic non-musical sounds.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: I stand corrected, a rare occurrence.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: The sounds are not music and have no artistic quality at all.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Artistic merit is not a requirement for copyright. I cite Hein v. Harris 175 F. 875 (1910), affirmed by the Second Circuit in 1923, in which Judge Learned Hand stated that the lack of originality and musical merit in songs is of no consequence. The case involved copyright infringement, in which Judge Hand compared Arab Love Song to I Think I Hear a Woodpecker.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Nevertheless, a musical work must contain a sufficient amount of creative expression to be copyrightable. I cite the Compendium of U. S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition (2014).

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: I object. The Compendium is not a law; it is merely an internal document used by the U.S. Copyright Office as a guide in registering works for copyright, or more precisely what the Copyright Office is willing to register.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I object to your objection.

JUDGE (to SOLICITOR GENERAL): Counsellor, could you give the Court a more specific citation from this Compendium?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Certainly, Your Excellency.

(He opens his briefcase, pulls out a thick book and starts thumbing through it)

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Are you going to read the whole thing?  How many pages is it, anyway?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: 1,288 pages, but it won’t take very long; I have bookmarked several sections.

(He starts flipping through the book, but it is thick and heavy and he drops it; some of the bookmarks fall out, but he scrambles to pick them up, first grabbing the book)

JUDGE: Looks like this is going to take you some time. Counsellor, why don’t you have a seat in the witness box?

(He looks at the BAILIFF and motions with his hand. The BAILIFF moves the wheelbarrow toward the SOLICITOR GENERAL and scoops him up into it; the book falls to the ground. The BAILIFF picks up the book and remaining bookmarks and hands them to the SOLICITOR GENERAL)

JUDGE: Bailiff, why don’t you and I take a break and go have a cold beer. Court is in recess for fifteen minutes.

(They walk off as the SOLICITOR GENERAL attempts to get out of the wheelbarrow; unsuccessful, he sits back and flips through the pages, inserts a bookmark here and there, and continues looking)

SOLICITOR GENERAL (mumbling to himself): It’s here somewhere.

(The JUDGE and the BAILIFF return in fifteen or more minutes. The BAILIFF carries a ceramic beer stein, which he hands to the SOLICITOR GENERAL)

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Thank you.

(He takes a sip and stops)

SOLICITOR GENERAL: What is this? I was expecting a cold beer.

BAILIFF: It’s lemonade.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Really, it’s somewhat weak.

BAILIFF: You can’t drink alcohol in the courtroom.

JUDGE: Court’s in session. Counsellor, have you found your citation?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Yes, Your Excellency. Section 803.3(A) of the Compendium.

JUDGE: Counsellor, you must stand to address the Court.

(The SOLICITOR GENERAL struggles to get out of the wheelbarrow without success)

JUDGE: Bailiff, help the SOLICITOR GENERAL out of the witness box.

(The BAILIFF tips the wheelbarrow forward and the SOLICITOR GENERAL climbs out)

SOLICITOR GENERAL (dusting himself off): My new suit; it’s all dirty.

JUDGE: No problem. You don’t have to look presentable out here. Let’s have your citation.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I just gave it to you.

JUDGE: You were not before the court when you spoke.

BAILIFF: You were in the witness box.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Very well, I again cite Section 803.3(A) of the Compendium.

JUDGE: Counsellor, the Compendium has no standing as law, although the Court may give due deference to the opinions of the U.S. Copyright Office if you wish to offer the Compendium into evidence.

(The SOLICITOR GENERAL hands the Compendium to the BAILIFF)

JUDGE: So entered.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I request that the Court rule that the first composition is not subject to copyright because it has only basic sounds that are not music; there is absolutely no creative expression whatsoever.

JUDGE: Denied. The motion is redundant as worded.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: What?

JUDGE: Absolutely and whatsoever are redundant.  You can use one or the other, not both.

BAILIFF: His Excellency was an English teacher before he became a judge.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I don’t believe it.

BAILIFF: It’s true.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I wasn’t talking to you.

BAILIFF: Talking to yourself again; I had better write that down.

(The SOLICITOR GENERAL turns away and ignores the BAILIFF)

JUDGE: Counsellor, do you wish to restate your motion?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Yes, Your Excellency.  I make a motion for the Court to rule that the first so-called composition is not subject to copyright protection because the sounds are not musical and have no creative expression whatsoever.

JUDGE: Motion granted. Bailiff, play the next one.

(He bangs the gavel. The next recording includes branches creaking and swaying in the background, together with the sound of pine cones dropping and repeatedly landing on an abandoned piece of sheet metal at the base of the tree)

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I would like to…

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Objection.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: You can’t object; I haven’t said anything yet.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: My witness should be recalled first.

JUDGE: Objection sustained. Bailiff, move the witness stand back over here.

(The BAILIFF moves the wheelbarrow close to the fence and the RAVEN hops back on one of the handles)

JUDGE: Raven, you are still under oath. Counsellor, you may proceed.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Raven, you just listened to the Plaintiff’s second musical composition.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Objection. Counsel is leading the witness. It has not been established that these sounds are music.

JUDGE: Sustained.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Raven, in your personal, non-expert opinion, what do you consider the sounds you just heard to be?

RAVEN: It’s music to my ears.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Nonsense. There is no creativity to it.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Not true at all. The tree, unassisted and by its own action, is dropping pine cones (onto a piece of metal) at repeated but intermittent intervals, creating a syncopated rhythm, much like a drum solo.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: It is not music in my opinion.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Objection. You are not an expert witness.

JUDGE: Sustained.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: But I do have a right to a personal opinion, just like your witness.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Of course, but do you actually listen to music?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Everyone does.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: That’s not an answer. It’s a yes or no question.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Yes.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: What is your favourite type of music?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Classical—chamber music in particular.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Something by Haydn or Mozart I suppose. Do you have a preference?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Haydn’s string quartet Op. 20 … Say, why are we talking about what kind of music I like?

JUDGE: Counsellor, is this going anywhere relevant to the case?

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Yes, as my next question will show.

JUDGE: Very well, proceed.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY (to SOLICITOR GENERAL): Do you like ragtime music?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Are you kidding?

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: I take that as a no.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: It is just a lot of unorganised noise flying about in the air.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: You apparently agree with Judge Learned Hand’s opinion of ragtime.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I suppose so.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Then, you must agree with Judge Hand’s statement in Hein v. Harris that copyright law protects musical works without any merit or originality. So, what’s your problem with a copyright for Plaintiff’s second work?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: That was a trick question.

JUDGE: Yes, but well done.

BAILIFF: You stepped in it that time.

JUDGE: Bailiff, you need not state the obvious.

BAILIFF: Sorry, Your Excellency.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I ask the Court to rule that the sounds in the second composition reveal no creativity and are not copyrightable.

JUDGE: I will reserve judgment for now, but the Plaintiff’s composition does resemble a drum solo. Bailiff, play the last composition.

(The BAILIFF plays the third work, predominantly a whistling sound, shrill at times, with a wide range that keeps changing as the wind blows through a hole in a large branch; birds sing in the background)

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Raven, please give us your opinion, not as an expert witness but as a personal opinion, as to the merits of the composition we just enjoyed.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Objection to enjoyed.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: You didn’t enjoy it?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: That’s not the point. Enjoyed gives undue merit as to the quality of the sounds.

JUDGE: Sustained.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Raven, please give us your opinion, not as an expert witness but as a personal opinion, as to the merits of the composition we just listened to, whether or not you enjoyed it.

RAVEN: I especially liked the birds singing in the background.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Aha! If, and I say if, the Plaintiff is an author, then it follows that the birds singing in the background are joint authors. They have not been included as plaintiffs so I ask for dismissal on the basis that not all necessary parties are before the Court.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Objection. The birds singing in the background are not making a substantial creative contribution to the work, so they cannot be joint authors. They are similar to non-featured background singers who appear with a lead singer; they are not joint authors.

JUDGE (to SOLICITOR GENERAL): You have not established that the birds are necessary parties under Rule 19(a). Dismissal denied.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Raven, aside from the birds singing in the background, did you find the composition musical, in your personal opinion?

RAVEN: Very much so.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Creative?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Objection.

JUDGE: Sustained.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: No further questions.

(The RAVEN flaps its wings and rises a bit into the air)

JUDGE: Just a minute, Raven.

(He turns to the SOLICITOR GENERAL)

JUDGE: Did you wish to cross-examine the witness?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: By all means.

(The RAVEN perches on the wheelbarrow handles, jumping back and forth from one to the other)

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Raven, do you spend all of your time resting on the branches of the Plaintiff.

RAVEN: No, I fly quite a wide area and hang about here and there.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: So you are familiar with the sounds of many different trees.

RAVEN: Yes.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Would you describe most of these sounds as noise rather than music?

RAVEN: Not really.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Objection.

JUDGE: You can’t object to your own question.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Do you know what a scherzo is, or a sonata?

RAVEN: Italian food?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: What about Schumann and Mendelssohn’s fugues?

RAVEN: Did they get in a fight?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Have you ever listened to the piano concertos of Franz Liszt or Frederic Chopin.

RAVEN: I’ve never seen a piano out here in the cow pasture, much less heard one. It would not be a good idea, especially in the rainy season.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Never mind. Let’s try one last time. Are you familiar with Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings or Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor?

RAVEN: Can’t say that I am.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Then you are not familiar with the sound of real music?

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Objection. Raven has obviously heard what the Solicitor General would have to concede is “real” music. Farm hands whistle and sing as they go about their daily choirs, sometimes playing music on their radios outdoors. Everyone knows that cows are more relaxed and produce more milk when listening to soothing music.

BAILIFF: Not everyone.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Almost everyone. I can hear music coming from the barn right now.

SOLICITOR GENERAL (shaking his head): It is Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp in D Major.

RAVEN: If you say so. I didn’t know what it was but I have heard it before while sitting atop the barn.

JUDGE: Any further questions?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: What good would it do?

JUDGE: Bailiff, play that third composition again. I want to focus more on the whistling sounds and tune out the birds in the background.

(They all listen again)

RAVEN: Sounds like music to me.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: No one asked you.  Your Excellency, I ask that the court strike this statement of the crow from the record.

RAVEN: Who you calling a crow, bozo?

(The RAVEN flies above, buzzing round the head of the SOLICITOR GENERAL, which fortunately is protected by the dunce cap. However, we hear a SPLAT just before the RAVEN flies off)

JUDGE: Order in the Court.

(He pounds his gavel on the metal drum repeatedly)

JUDGE (continuing): I will reserve judgment for now, but the whistling sound does resemble music.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: With all due respect, Your Excellency, the wind would seem to be the author of the whistling sound, not the tree, or alternatively a joint author.

JUDGE (to SOLICITOR GENERAL): Assuming that the Plaintiff, a tree, qualifies as an author, does the wind consider itself as a joint author?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I have no idea.

JUDGE: You brought it up. If you don’t know, are you prepared to present a witness?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Do you mean the wind?

JUDGE: Obviously.

(The SOLICITOR GENERAL takes off the dunce cap and waives it in the air in total frustration)

JUDGE: Bailiff.

(The BAILIFF moves forward, takes the dunce cap by the edges and places it back on the SOLICITOR GENERAL’s head, very securely)

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Ouch, that hurts.

JUDGE: Are you making a complaint about the Bailiff? He’s my wife’s cousin.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: No, absolutely not … Your Excellency.

JUDGE: Now, where were we?

SOLICITOR GENERAL (to himself): In a cow pasture in the middle of nowhere.

JUDGE: What’s that Counsellor? You will have to speak up.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Nothing, Your Excellency; just mumbling to myself. I don’t recall what I said.

JUDGE: Bailiff, make a note. Defendant’s counsel talks to himself and has memory problems.

(The SOLICITOR GENERAL raises his arm to look at his watch, which is not there)

JUDGE: I hope you are not looking to see what time it is?

(The SOLICITOR GENERAL starts scratching his wrist vigorously)

SOLICITOR GENERAL: No, Your Excellency. I just got a sudden itch.

JUDGE: Very well. Let’s continue.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I would like to make a motion for dismissal for failure to join a necessary party.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: You already made that motion.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: That was for the birds.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Certainly was.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I am referring to the wind as a joint author this time. I move for dismissal with respect to the third composition for failure join a necessary party.

JUDGE: Do you have any evidence to introduce that the wind intended to be a joint author?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: No.

JUDGE: Motion to dismiss for failure to join a necessary party denied.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: The wind does not really need to be a joint author because the wind created the whistling sounds, not the Plaintiff.

JUDGE: Maybe it is time to question the Plaintiff.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: As the Court has already noted, the Plaintiff has a physical disability (being rooted to the ground), and cannot take the witness stand.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: No one is going to believe this when I get back to Washington.

BAILIFF: Don’t tell anyone.

JUDGE: If the Plaintiff cannot come to the courthouse, the Court will go to the Plaintiff. Bailiff, redraw the perimeter of the courtroom.

(The BAILIFF goes to the barn, returns with the chalk machine and pushes it along to enclose the Plaintiff within the boundaries of the courtroom. The JUDGE slides down the rail fence, sits closer to the PLAINTIFF, shaded by its branches, and waits for the BAILIFF to return)

JUDGE: Swear in the witness.

(The BAILIFF holds up a branch of the tree, looks around and drops it)

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: I will take the oath on behalf of my client.

JUDGE: That will not be necessary. We will just consider the witness sworn.

JUDGE (to SOLICITOR GENERAL): Counsellor, do you wish to ask the witness any questions.

SOLICITOR GENERAL (to PLAINTIFF): I would like to know if you did anything to cause the sounds that we heard in the compositions. If not, the sole creator must be the wind.

(He stares at the tree, then looks around at everyone else)

SOLICITOR GENERAL (continuing): I must be crazy. I am talking to a tree.

BAILIFF: Better than talking to yourself.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I make a motion for summary judgment to dismiss compositions two and three on the basis that the Plaintiff itself took no action in the creation of the works and therefore cannot be an author.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: Objection. A tree drops its pine cones on its own initiative after the pine cones release their pollen or seeds, not in response to the wind.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: That is not necessarily true if it was quite windy that day.

JUDGE: That is a question of fact for the jury. Motion to dismiss denied as to the second composition.

PLAINTIFF’s ATTORNEY: While we believe that the Plaintiff is the sole author of the third composition, it seems that we have the same question of fact as to the wind’s involvement.

JUDGE: Correct. Motion to dismiss also denied as to the third composition. Jury trial is set for the 13th of next month, right here in this courtroom. Court adjourned.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: I think I have tickets for a string quartet on that date.

JUDGE: Too bad, I guess you will just have to miss it. Look at the bright side. You will be able to hear Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp in D Major from the barn.

(The SOLICITOR GENERAL looks at his wrist for the time)

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Where is my watch?

BAILIFF: In your pocket.

(The SOLICITOR GENERAL takes the Patek Philippe from his pocket, fastens it to his wrist and looks at the time)

SOLICITOR GENERAL: It’s five fifteen.

BAILIFF: I have five fourteen.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: What difference does it make? I have already missed the five o’clock train to Washington.

JUDGE: There is a milk train leaves at ten p.m. if you do not mind several stops, or we could find you a motel room near the station. By the way, do not forget to return the dunce cap to the Bailiff.

(The SOLICITOR GENERAL hands the dunce cap to the BAILIFF, who drops it and shakes his hand)

BAILIFF: There’s bird shit on the dunce cap.

JUDGE (to SOLICITOR GENERAL): Counsellor, you will have to pay for cleaning. That will be five dollars.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: Let me give you a check.

(He reaches in one pocket after another and comes up empty each time)

SOLICITOR GENERAL (continuing): Sorry, Your Excellency, but I do not seem to have my checkbook on me.

JUDGE: No problem. You can give the Court some collateral.

BAILIFF: What about one of those expensive shoes?

SOLICITOR GENERAL: How am I supposed to walk in a cow pasture with one shoe?

JUDGE: Good point. Your watch will do.

SOLICITOR GENERAL: A Patek Philippe, for a lousy five-dollar cleaning bill? That’s ridiculous.

JUDGE: Not to this Court. You can get it back at the trial, if you remember to bring the five dollars.

(He motions to the BAILIFF, who approaches the SOLICITOR GENERAL. The SOLICITOR GENERAL holds his right hand over the watch, and they struggle until the BAILIFF removes the Patek Philippe and puts it on his own wrist)

SOLICITOR GENERAL (to JUDGE): You’re not going to let him wear it, are you? It must be kept in a safe place.

JUDGE: Not to worry. I’ll keep it in my sight at all times.

(He holds out his hand. The BAILIFF takes off the watch and hands it to the JUDGE, who (after removing his own watch) replaces it with the Patek Philippe)

JUDGE (to SOLICITOR GENERAL): You can borrow mine if you like.

(The SOLICITOR GENERAL turns away and stomps off across the cow pasture)

THE END