Barely Legal Art: Testing the Outer Limits of Copyright Laws

Park Slope: not exactly an outlaw hotbed. But folks there will be able to experience some barely legal entertainment Tuesday when copyright freedom fighter Stay Free!magazine hosts a screening of comic book artist Brad Neely's notoriously chuckle-worthy Wizard People, Dear Reader as part of its ongoing "Illegal Art" exhibition. Part fan-geek homage, part whiskey-throated absurdism, Neely's puckish project consists of a pre-recorded alternate narration to the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, created to be played while watching the film with the sound off. Originally made for Neely's friends in Austin, Texas, Wizard People unwittingly leaped into the intellectual-property fracas when Neely started doing live theatrical shows with 35mm prints rented from Warner Brothers. Eventually the WB caught wind of WP, and the distributor forced cinemas on Neely's planned spring tour to cancel, including a date at Anthology Film Archives. Though Neely won't be in attendance this time, he's created a new, reportedly tighter version for Stay Free!'s event—and those who miss the screening can also download it for free from the magazine's illegal-art.org site. As Harry himself might say, "Copyrightus subversis!"

 
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