Orwell's Estate Threatens Creator Of Parody Of Parody Of 1984

from the the-levels-of-parody dept

You could see this one coming from a mile away. The controversial anti-Hilly Clinton ad that parodied the famous Apple “1984” ad is coming under criticism from the company that’s licensed the rights to George Orwell’s 1984. The company hasn’t said it will sue, as so far it’s just issuing vague threats about monitoring the situation and protecting the value of its assets. The reason the company probably won’t sue is because the ads’ creator would almost certainly have a slam dunk case based on the fair use right to create a parody. If anything, you’d think that Apple would be in a better position to sue, since it was their ad, not the book itself, that formed the basis for this ad. Also, you’d hope that a company that’s so concerned about protecting Orwell’s work and legacy would see some irony in using copyright law to stifle politically-motivated free speech.

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Comments on “Orwell's Estate Threatens Creator Of Parody Of Parody Of 1984”

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JS Beckerist (profile) says:

all this is...

All I can think of with all this copyright infringement crap is a child, whining “I thought of it first, waaaah!” Hell, George Orwell DIED in 1950. Now, I understand the need to protect your assets, but COME ON PEOPLE, the guy who came up with the PREMISE has been dead for almost 60 YEARS! This just seems like an excuse to get money (IF they sue), and nothing more. I’m glad we have fair use laws in place too. Otherwise I might have had to call shenanigans, and we’d all have to get our brooms!

comboman says:

Re: Is 1984 still protected?

1984 (the novel) is already in the public domain in countries like Canada, Russia and Australia that did not extend copyrights in the late 90’s (you can download the text from the Australian branch of Project Guttenburg here).
In the European Union it will enter the public domain in 2020. In the United States, it will enter the public domain in 2044, unless there’s another copyright extension before then (what are the chances of that happening).

WAR IS PEACE (US foreign policy)

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY (US domestic security policy)

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH (US education policy)

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

I am wondering if the ad agency that created the 1984 ad for Apple had a contract stating that Apple could only use the ad for the Superbowl.

If so, I can’t image they are all that happy with Obama’s ad, although its not like they would be able to get anything out of it. Can’t imagine they like the thought of someone putting up anything they want off of their work without them getting something.

CRTisMe says:

Parody is not a Blanket Fair Use Right

The fair use of parody is when the original work is mocked. In this ad Hillary, Inc is the one being mocked, not 1984. More likely this ad borrows the imagery of the Super Bowl Ad and that is where the infringment (if any) would lie. I don’t know who owns the Super Bowl Ad, could be Apple or could be the agency?

JustMatt says:

What I don't get

Is that the estate is upset over the idea of him using *concepts* similar to those found in the book 1984. The original commercial portrays a vague future dystopia. The connection to George isn’t explicitly based upon anything other than the fact that the commercial came out in 1984.

IIRC nobody in the original commercia never said “Hey, this is based upon 1984” and there certainly weren’t any talking pigs* in either the commercial or the parody.

I don’t think they have anything to go in. As someone else said Apple is in a slightly better position, but it is protected as parody so they are out of luck too.

* When did Charlotte’s Web come out? Someone may have a case against the Orwell estate!

Reed says:

Kinda Pathetic

Comboman cracked,

“In the European Union it will enter the public domain in 2020. In the United States, it will enter the public domain in 2044, unless there’s another copyright extension before then (what are the chances of that happening).”

2044!? Thats real sad for the US. Of course we also spend twice as much on health care and more than all other countries combined on our military. I guess we just aren’t happy unless we are outdoing everyone else! LOL

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s really a satire of a TV commercial parody of a movie from the screenplay of a novel.

Protecting your own private property by availing yourself of the protections ostensibly enforced by your government is not the same thing as a government censoring the free expression of its citizens. If your actions violate the rights of another, calling it “free expression” and screaming for government sanction of your violation is not a defense of anyone’s natural rights.

rod taylor says:


Joe — you are absolutely right. The amazing thing is that Orwell was levelling his criticism at socialists, hence the title 1984. The thought control can only come from one direction — above. So it’s always the government or the courts. That’s why “hate speech” is such a disastrous and foolish thing. The notion of categorizing a form of speech or opinions as hateful has already begun to make problems for religious people . And the notion that some ass from the Orwell estate would threaten the maker of that parody of the apple add parodying 1984 is discpicable, not just annoying. He/she can go to hell. The sooner the better. If anything, I would argue that the estate’s property rights are enhanced, not damaged. Maybe they should pay. Bye.

Jack says:

“…you’d hope that a company that’s so concerned about protecting Orwell’s work and legacy would see some irony in using copyright law to stifle politically-motivated free speech.”

Not to mention, those who have actually read 1984 will recognize there is no description of a scene in the book remotely resembling the Apple ad.

|333173|3|_||3 says:

In fact the Apple ad is quite different from 1984, since in teh book the people all watching the screen in the big room were in teh 2 minutes hate, and were all angry, rather than passive. furthermore, the setting is largely delapidated London, not a fururistic city of tubes etc. Then there is the fact that only the Outer Party wear blue uniforms in 1984, not the shuffling proles.

1984 was not about scialism, it was about totlaitiarianism and repression by a party which no longer made any claim to scolialist ideals, only refering ot the improvment made since the revolution, and the name, Ingsoc, derived from English Socialism.

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