Tickle documentary hit by legal threats

David Farrier is behind the local documentary about competitive tickling competitions.
David Farrier is behind the local documentary about competitive tickling competitions.

A local documentary about an international "tickle king" has been hit by legal threats.

TV3 reporter David Farrier is currently trying to raise $25,000 to make a documentary about the secretive sport of competitive tickling, a project sparked after attempts to contact the apparent organiser, David D'Amato, were met with denials and a bizarre trail of emails.

The team behind the documentary have recently received a copyright infringement claim by D'Amato after using his photograph online, according to an update on the fundraising website set up for the film.

The photo, which has since been removed, was sourced from a school D'Amato was working at when he was convicted by the FBI after posing online as a young woman, recruiting young men for tickling videos. The website also describes how D'Amato was known to torment people online and impersonate other people.

He was jailed for 6 months and fined $5,000.

Farrier and his team have also been the subject of a privacy complaint to YouTube after D'Amato's name was mentioned on a story on the Paul Henry Show, which was then posted to the website.

American D'Amato has also launched two separate privacy complaints via YouTube for the inclusion of his name and photograph in the Kickstarter fundraising video that was hosted on YouTube. The video has since been pulled down, after D'Amato's company, Jane O'Brien Media, filled a copyright claim over tickling footage used.

"We've seen many legal threats (most grossly exaggerated) made against people who've failed to do as D'Amato and his associates (real and imagined) have requested, also against those who've spoken out about their experience," the documentary makers wrote on Kickstarter.

"Recently we were informed that lawyers in New Zealand have been retained to take action against us, but nothing has been forthcoming as yet.

"Obviously we believe we're in the right in all these cases but, as is so often the case, we're having to argue our position against what we feel are flawed accusations."

- nzherald.co.nz

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to say Mr D'Amato was fined $5,000, not $50,000 as originally stated.

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