In the spring of 2012, a small show hit off-Broadway; it was called 3C and it was admittedly inspired by the 70s/80s show Three’s Company, which was (a groundbreaking concept at the time) about a guy who pretends to be gay so he could share an apartment with two women. In 3C, the guy actually is gay, and the play parodies the show, the culture of the 70s, and so much more.
At the time, DailyActor wrote about the play and the fact that writer David Adjmi didn’t have the money or resources to push back against a copyright claim from DLT, the entity that owns the copyright to Three’s Company. Other Desert Cities writer Jon Robin Baitz told The New York Times, “The fact that the lawyers for the long-gone show Three’s Company have nothing better to do, aside from billing legal hours like truffle pigs, than attempt to bully an Off Broadway playwright of modest means is an affront of the most base kind.”
DLT even said, back in 2012, that they didn’t want 3C to be seen, or read, because they were supposedly considering a stage version of Three’s Company, and believed that 3C borrowed too many elements of the work it’s based off to be considered “fair use.”
Along the line, Adjmi managed to find supporters to fund his lawsuit against DLT; he sued specifically to ask the court to issue a declaratory judgment (ie to declare) that 3C did not infringe on the copyrighted Three’s Company episodes. David Adjmi v. Dlt Entertainment Ltd., 14 cv.0568 is the case heading.
On March 31, 2014, the Southern District of New York held that 3C is a transformative work and a Fair Use; it does not infringe on Three’s Company; the ruling provides even more support for the now-mainstream belief that fanworks are often noninfringing.