Azzopardi sues for copyright breach over leak of ‘Ix-Xiħa’ play script

Judge to hear copyright claim by Mario Philip Azzopardi against journalist Manuel Delia over publication of leaked script of Ix-Xiħa, in which one the characters mocks the last words published by assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

Theatre producer and film director Mario Philip Azzopardi
Theatre producer and film director Mario Philip Azzopardi

A judge will on Monday start hearing a copyright claim filed by theatre and film producer Mario Philip Azzopardi against blogger Manuel Delia, over Delia’s publication of the script to Azzopardi’s play “ix-Xiha” on his blog.

The production of “Ix-Xiha” had been cancelled by the Manoel Theatre board following public outcry at the misrepresentation of Daphne Caruana Galizia in the script -a leaked version of which was published by Delia and subsequently panned by members of the Maltese theater community. 

Azzopardi claimed that several members of the cast had also quit the production before it was cancelled.

In his sworn application before the First Hall of the Civil Court, Azzopardi said that the production had incurred over €26,000 in expenses before its cancellation. The application, filed by lawyer Ezekiel Psaila, says that Delia’s unauthorised publication of the script was accompanied with “demeaning, violent and vulgar” words and had been done in breach of Azzopardi’s intellectual property rights.

This alleged misuse of the playwright’s intellectual property had led to the plaintiff suffering damages, for which he was seeking redress, the court document explains.

In the blog post publishing the script, Delia described the play as “shallow, badly written, and superficial, and it is bad because it is spiteful, full of hate, prejudice, and disturbingly incurable visceral violence.” 

The play portrays a dead matriarch who, conversing with the audience, plots revenge on her snobbish four children by disinheriting them in favour of the family servant and nanny. “One of the children is transparently Daphne Caruana Galizia or rather what listeners of Super One imagine Daphne Caruana Galizia was like,” Delia said. “She is venal, spiteful, classist, incapable of empathy or any human emotion.”

One of the play’s lines mimics the last words published on Caruana Galizia’s blog with a character named ‘Jenny’  delivering the line “May your children die of cancer. There are crooks everywhere you see.  A desperate situation.” (“Jalla it-tfal tagħkom imutu kollha kemm huma bil-kanċer. Kull fejn tħares, ħallelin biss. SITWAZZJONI DDISPRATA.”) The Jenny character is later killed off in an explosion. 

Azzopardi defended the play, claiming it to be a work of satire. In a recent interview with radio host Prof Andrew Azzopardi, the playwright made no attempt to hide the fact that his play made reference to Caruana Galizia. “I referenced her,” he said. “And this did not sit well with some people who did everything possible to stop the play from taking place,” he said.