Brow Beat

This New York Times Short Dramatizes a Deposition About the Definition of Photocopying

What is a photocopier?

Still from Youtube

The New York Times’ latest “Op-Doc” is particularly amusing: it’s comprised entirely of a rambling argument, taken from a real-life deposition, about the true definition of a photocopier. The short comes from director Brett Weiner, who stumbled upon the deposition in 2012 and decided it was ridiculous enough to merit screen treatment. The Times provides the case details:

“In 2010, the Cuyahoga County Recorder’s Office in Ohio changed their policy about copying records. Digital files would no longer be available, and the public would have to make hard copies of documents for $2 per page. This would prove to be prohibitively expensive for Data Trace Information Services and Property Insight, companies that collect hundreds of pages of this public information each week. They sued the Recorder’s Office for access to digital versions of the documents on a CD. In the middle of the case, a lawyer representing them questioned the IT administrator of the Recorder’s Office, which led to a 10-page argument over the semantics of photocopiers.”

There you have it. The actors take creative liberties with expressions and delivery, but the script itself is taken verbatim from the deposition transcript, which is so inane, circular, and surreal that it feels like fiction. There’s also more to come: the Times says this is the first in a series attempting to dramatize the most bizarre, surprising depositions they can find, and they’re soliciting any and all suggestions.