Lucky they didn’t copyright Genesis

By Joe Joseph, July 2, 2009
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Why didn’t JD Salinger speak up sooner? The reclusive author of Catcher In The Rye has broken cover to try to block publication of an unauthorised sequel. He says the book — which is called 60 Years Later: Coming Through The Rye, and is dedicated to Salinger — infringes his copyright. You can see what’s made him grumpy. This sequel features a character called Mr C, apparently based on Holden Caulfield, the teenage protagonist of Salinger’s 1951 novel — only this Mr C is 76 years old and has just escaped from a nursing home. “It is a rip-off, pure and simple,” complains Salinger.

If only the scholars who wrote the Book of Genesis had thought of doing this when Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber unleashed their musical, Joseph, on a world weaned on Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, a world that never imagined anyone might rhyme: “Potiphar had very few cares/ He was one of Egypt’s millionaires/ Having made a fortune buying shares.” But what if they did actually try to stop it?…

Genesis Inc: “Hello? Is that Mr Rice and Mr Lloyd Webber? I fear we have a problem. You see, your new musical, Joseph And His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, infringes our copyright. Haven’t either of you ever read Genesis?”

Rice & Lloyd Webber: “It’s a free country — or, as we like to say: ‘We closed our eyes, drew back the curtain, to see for certain, what we thought we knew. That Joseph’s tale would make us famous, though the songs might shame us, any theme would do’.”

Genesis Inc: “I don’t think you fully grasp the copyright situation here. The characters in your musical bear a strong resemblance to those in our story of Joseph, the son of Jacob, who wears a coat of many colours and can interpret dreams.”

Rice & Lloyd Webber: “OK, sure. We see the similarities. Or, as we might put it: ‘Poor, poor scholars, what’cha gonna do? Things look bad for you, hey, what’cha gonna do? Poor, poor scholars, what’cha gonna do? Things look bad for you, hey, what’cha gonna do?’”

Genesis Inc: “But you’re exploiting our intellectual property. You’re eating into our royalties.”

Rice & Lloyd Webber: “Go, go, go, scholars, you know what they say. Now it is our turn, to have a pay day. Sha-la-la scholars, we’re doing fine. You and your dreamcoat now pay for our wine.”

Do you suppose Salinger will have better luck?

Joe Joseph is a writer for The Times

Last updated: 12:11pm, July 2 2009