According to Deadline, lawyers acting on behalf of Courtney Love sent cease-and-desist letters to theaters scheduled to screen Soaked In Bleach, the new documentary about an old theory—that Love conspired to have Kurt Cobain murdered. (While most reviews haven’t been terribly kind to the movie, at least one reviewer thought it made a not-entirely-insane argument.) In the letter—which is pretty directly threatening—the lawyer states, “Even though [redacted, the theater name] did not produce the Film, distributors of defamatory material can be held liable if they ‘knew or had reason to know that the material was defamatory.’”
The Love protestations are summed up in this early paragraph, then repeated later: “The Film falsely presents a widely and repeatedly debunked conspiracy theory that accuses Ms. Cobain of orchestrating the death of her husband Kurt Cobain. A false accusation of criminal behavior is defamatory per se under California Civil Code Section 45a, which entitles Ms. Cobain to both actual and presumed damages.” In other words, don’t show the movie, or we’re going to sue you for damages:
The film’s producers hit back with a statement crying “free speech!” Their full statement is at Deadline, but here’s the summation: “Courtney Love and her lawyers clearly don’t like that the film presents a compelling case for re-opening the investigation into Kurt’s death. They should respect the First Amendment and let people decide for themselves.” The whole mess echoes the earlier maybe-Courtney-did-it doc Kurt & Courtney, which abandons that idea partway through and instead begins to rail against Courtney Love’s—get this—disrespect of free speech. Maybe she didn’t orchestrate the death of her estranged husband in order to inherit his massive estate—probably not. But did she try her hardest to muzzle Lady Liberty? At least two documentary filmmakers seem to think so. The real question: What does Buzz Osborne think?