Viral Alf heads for film festival

ANDREW TAYLOR
Last updated 14:02 06/09/2012
Ray Meagher
CRIKEY: Ray Meagher has played Alf Stewart for decades, but never like this.

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YouTube videos depicting Gold Logie winner Ray Meagher's character from Home and Away as a foul-mouthed sexual predator who operates a "rape dungeon" will be screened at a Sydney film festival this week.

And there is little Meagher or Australia's Seven Network TV station can do to stop the screening of Summer Bay Slaughter Part 1, The Dungeon and Alf Stewart at the Logies at the Factory Theatre in Marrickville on September 8 as part of the Sydney Underground Film Festival.

Nor are they likely to succeed in forcing YouTube to remove the videos, which have had more than 5.4 million video views.

The videos' creator, Mr Doodleburger, will also appear at the festival, answering questions from the audience.

He declined to give his real name to Fairfax Media, referring to himself as Belly, but said he was a plasterer.

He said the dubbing of Meagher's voice was designed to "flip the character on its head".

He said the videos had no intent other than to entertain his mates.

"It's just mucking around with mates to have a laugh at," he said.

"I just posted it to a couple of mates and somehow it went viral."

A lecturer in defamation and media law at Macquarie University's Law School, Dr Roy Baker, said performers in the videos have the right not to have their performances subjected to derogatory treatment in a way that harms their reputation.

"I do not think that those rights have been breached, principally since it is so obvious that the actors' voices have been dubbed," he said.

Dr Baker did not believe these videos were defamatory even though Meagher's character Alf Stewart makes comments of a violent and sexist nature.

"My personal view is that the videos say nothing about the actors themselves, so I do not see them as defamatory," Dr Baker said.

Dr Baker said the unauthorised use of Home and Away footage by the self-styled Mr Doodleburger appeared to be a breach of the Seven Network's copyright.

But there is an exception for parody and satire, which Dr Baker said he believed would protect Mr Doodleburger's work.

"My personal view is that the court should only take into account whether Mr Doodleburger's videos will compete with Home and Away," he said.

"I would have thought that Mr Doodleburger's videos would have no impact on the Seven Network's legitimate interests."

The Seven Network and Meagher both declined to comment.

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-Fairfax Australia

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