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in Filmmaking
on Jun 22, 2007

A jury in Manhattan this afternoon ruled for plaintiff Antidote Films International in its lawsuit charging Laura Albert, the writer behind fictitious literary star JT Leroy, with fraud. Antidote was awarded the $110,000 it paid for film options to the Leroy novel Sarah and $6,500 in punitive damages.

In a blog posting below I noted the reference to coverage in the New York Times discussing the fact that the trial has had the effect of entering the story behind the creation of the Leroy material into the public record, making it fair game for filmmakers, documentarians, writers, etc. It’s this angle that Albert addressed in this Associated Press piece running in Newsday.

Although Albert stared straight ahead when the verdict was read, and said she expected the decision, she was quick to condemn it.

“This goes beyond me,” Albert said. “Say an artist wants to use a pseudonym for political reasons, for performance art. This is a new, dangerous brave new world we are in.” She said that Antidote had succeeded in exposing more of her life story during trial, and will try to make more money off of it.

“They made my life public domain. It’s about commerce,” she said. “They’re going to try to hijack my copyrights, which is like stealing my child.”

Whether or not the exhibits and testimony of the trial lead to the creation of new works, Antidote v. Albert has succeeded in extending the 21st century’s most fascinating literary hoax into a whole new discursive realm. While some have argued that the case is about the right of an author to create a pseudonym for him or herself (and Antidote has proposed that it’s just about the non-ability of a fictitious person to enter into legal agreements), the verdict is a step towards defining the responsibilities of the alter-ego. In an age in which many if not most people employ fictitious identities in everything from puffed-up dating profiles to Second Life avatars, Antidote v. Albert seeks to identify the responsibilities of identity — even a fictitious one.

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