Mr. John Donald Riley
27 West 45th St.
New York, N. Y. 10036
I know I promised you I’d never get involved in a law. suit again, but I think this just might be the exception to the rule. My friend Hal out on the coast tells me he’s seen a rough cut of a movie called Kid Stuff that is a direct steal from my book Child Heist, except it’s played for laughs. Now, it’s bad enough to steal from me, but to make fun of me at the same time is even worse.
Hal says the thing is a low-budget no-name-star quickie done here in the east, produced and written and directed by somebody named James Hurley Harrington. I don’t know who this Harrington is, he’s never done anything else, but he’s obviously a crook. I’m told the distribution deal is being worked out with either Columbia or MGM. Maybe the best way to approach it is through them instead of going after this Harrington direct. But you’re the lawyer, so I’ll leave that up to you. Hal tells me there’s no question, it’s an open-and-shut case.
Say hello to Maribelle and the kids.
Mr. Richard Stark
73 Cedar Walk
Monequois, NJ 07826
Enclosed find a tax form from England to be filled out. It’s the usual form telling them you’re an American citizen and have not lived in their territory in the last eighteen months. You could send it on to the publisher direct.
I’ve looked into the situation re Kid Stuff, and I’m afraid the story there is more complicated than it might seem at first blush. James Hurley Harrington, to begin with, is a thirteen-year-old boy, apparently a child genius of some kind. The story I get, and I do believe I have this on good authority, is that Harrington himself was kidnapped just about a year ago, the ransom was paid, and the boy was released unharmed. His father is well off, and has apparently put up the hundred fifty thousand or so that it took to make the picture.
It seems to me, Dick, there’s no question but that the kidnappers used your book in abducting the Harrington boy. However, Harrington himself has used only the events which in fact happened to him, and as you know factual events cannot be copyrighted. If there is an infringement of copyright here, and I don’t see how there can help but be, I doubt you could make a case against anyone but the kidnappers. And, unfortunately, no one knows who they are.
I understand from my own sources, by the way, that it’s quite a funny little movie.
John Donald Riley