Judge rejects director's claim to share credit for play

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A theatre director lost her High Court claim yesterday that she should be credited as joint author of Stones In His Pockets, one of the most successful and original stage plays of recent years.

Mr Justice Park ruled that Pam Brighton, who claimed she had made an "extraordinary" creative contribution to the biting comedy, had copyright in a draft opening script of the play by Marie Jones.

But the judge, sitting in London, said that in most respects Ms Brighton's claims failed. He ruled that Miss Jones was the sole owner of the copyright in a 1999 version of the play.

He concluded: "For the future, Miss Brighton, through her copyright in the draft opening script of the play, is a person whose consent is needed for new contracts by Miss Jones to exploit the copyright of the 1999 version." Ms Brighton, who is now based in Belfast but comes from Bradford, claimed damages or an account of profits for alleged infringement of copyright over what has become one of Ireland's most successful stage plays.

It is being turned into a Hollywood film starring Michael Sheen and Dylan Moran after four years on the West End stage.

Miss Jones, also from Belfast, and Ms Brighton, a director since 1969, first met in 1983 through their work and were co-founders in 1991 of the DubbelJoint Theatre Company in Belfast, which in 1996 first staged the play, about the adventures of two layabouts, Charlie and Jake, working as extras on a Hollywood blockbuster shot in rural Ireland.

As the author, Miss Jones, 52, has won acclaim in Northern Ireland and internationally.The 1999 version of Stones moved from the Lyric to the Edinburgh and London fringe, before transferring to the West End.

Miss Jones argued in court that Ms Brighton was "not a writer" and had worked only as a director on the play. Yesterday, she said: "It is all based on the fact that someone gave me notes because it's their job to do that, and my contract says that I'm the sole author of the play whatever anyone contributes to it."

Ms Brighton's solicitor, Simon Smith, said that the judgment had established that the play "utilised, to a significant extent", her copyright material in notes which she had provided.

The judge rejected a damages claim by DubbelJoint.