dispute with David Platzker

We, the Surveillance Camera Players, are having a dispute with David Platzker, Executive Director of Printed Matter, Inc., an arts organization located at 535 West 22nd Street New York, New York 10011.

On 21 January 2004, we received an e-mail from Platzker, expressing interest in publishing an artist's book by us. Later that very day, one of our members met with Platzker, who laid out what a typical artist's book published by Printer Matter entails: full artistic control over the book's design and contents; a publication run of 1,000 copies, third-fourths of which are held by Printed Matter and one-fourth of which are given to the artist, who can sell them if desired; and a $1,000 stipend.

Our representative accepted this offer. Platzker said that, once the artist had submitted his or her proposal, it would take six months to produce the final product. Our representative said Platzker would have the Surveillance Camera Players' proposal within two days. Two days later, the SCP's proposal was in fact delivered to Platzker, who found it acceptable and proceeded to get and forward on to the SCP price-quotes from various printers.

On a regular basis and all through the months of February and March 2004, the SCP would send e-mails to Platzker, asking him when he wanted to start receiving the manuscript. Though he responded to each query, Platzker never wanted to get started on the book's production; there was always something else to attend to first. He seemed unusually preoccupied with irrelevant matters, such as the private life and personal problems of the SCP's representative.

By the beginning of April, it became clear to the SCP that Platzker was intentionally stalling. And so, on 1 April 2004, the SCP sent Platzker an e-mail asking for an explanation. Once again, the cycle repeated itself: a prompt response, followed by another delay. Increasingly exasperated, the SCP sent another query, to which Platzker finally addressed himself. He'd decided that he wasn't going to publish the SCP's book.

We encourage readers of this posting to place a telephone call or send an e-mail that protests against his decision, the absence of good reasons for it, and the chilling message it sends to other politically conscious groups of artists.

-- Originally posted 15 April 2004.

Today the SCP filed suit against Printed Matter and David Platzker for breach of contract. Filed at the Civil Court of the City of New York (Small Claims / Commercial Claims Part - County of New York), the suit seeks a judgment of $1,000, which is the amount of the stipend promised to the group by the defendant. The first hearing on this matter has been scheduled for 24 May 2004.

-- Addendum added 19 April 2004.

Yesterday the SCP dropped its breach-of-contract lawsuit against Printed Matter and David Platzker because, despite the obvious merits of its case, the group couldn't substantiate its claim that it had suffered $1,000 in damages. (Had the SCP sued for $4, which was the cost of round-trip subway fare to Printed Matter's offices, the group would likely have won a judgment in its favor.) But winning a financial judgment against the defendants was never the goal of the lawsuit. The goal was to show that the SCP wasn't going to take the defendants' cowardly behavior lying down. In the course of the proceedings, the SCP learned that its out-of-court tactics -- encouraging supporters of the group to send e-mails to Platzker, sendind snail-mailed letters to all of Printed Matter's financial supporters, and posting this "blog," the one you are reading at this very moment -- were very effective in putting pressure on Printed Matter. The SCP strongly encourages others to take similar actions when they feel they have been wronged.

-- Addendum added 25 May 2004.

Contact the New York Surveillance Camera Players

By e-mail SCP@notbored.org

By snail mail: SCP c/o NOT BORED! POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998