Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick




Motion Picture Academy Sues OscarWatch For Promoting The Oscars

from the how-many-ways-can-you-shoot-yourself-in-the-foot? dept

Back in February, we were absolutely stunned at the Motion Picture Academy's rationale for taking down all online clips of the 2007 Oscars. The Academy actually claimed that pulling all the content offline would "whet people's appetite for next year's show." Yes, removing all that free advertising is supposed to make people more interested in watching next year's show. Apparently, the Motion Picture Academy seems to think that this is some sort of zero-sum game, and if you watch enough boring clips of last year's Oscars, you won't want to watch this year's... Given that, perhaps it's not at all surprising to find out that the Motion Picture Academy has now sued the blog OscarWatch.com for trademark infringement. Someone needs to rush a few morons in a hurry over to the Academy to point out that it should only be considered trademark infringement when someone is likely to be confused into thinking that OscarWatch is actually associated with the Oscars... even with the huge disclaimer at the top making it clear it's not. The Academy seems particularly annoyed that OscarWatch.com changed from "a fan site" into "a commercial site." However, by that they mean that whoever runs OscarWatch decided to slap some ads on the blog, probably to help pay for the bandwidth involved in helping to freely promote the Oscars. That's not exactly exploiting the Oscar mark. However, apparently the Motion Picture Academy has decided that promotions for the Oscars only drive people away, and it would rather that there be no promotions whatsoever, in order to better "whet people's appetite for next year's show." And people wonder why the movie industry is struggling.

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  • identicon
    Dosquatch, 11 May 2007 @ 6:59am

    veritas

    Apparently, the Motion Picture Academy seems to think that this is some sort of zero-sum game, and if you watch enough boring clips of last year's Oscars, you won't want to watch this year's...

    There is probably some truth in reality buried in your snippy sideswipe there. I know, speaking for myself, that an entire year of being reminded how soul-sappingly, mind-numbingly boring the event is is very likely to drive me away from watching the coming ceremony.

    In fact, the week of trailers leading up to it are often enough to do just that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nasty Old Geezer, 11 May 2007 @ 7:19am

    Awards shows

    Oscars, Emmys whatever -- are like watching someone masturbate. They may be having fun, but its really gross and boring for everyone else.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Chris, 11 May 2007 @ 1:23pm

      Re: Awards shows

      Wait a minute, when did watching people masturbate become boring and gross?

      anyways, i think it's great that we are privileged every year to watch better people than us award themselves for being better than us. and by 'better' i mean more wealthy, more famous and more attractive to the opposite sex. it tells us lesser people who and what to like! if it wasn't for award shows i don't know if i would even consume any media. i mean, how would i know what to like?

      i just wish there were more award shows!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kyle, 11 May 2007 @ 7:21am

    "should only be considered trademark infringement when someone is likely to be confused into thinking that OscarWatch is actually associated with the Oscars... even with the huge disclaimer at the top making it clear it's not."

    GIV MY 75 DOLLARZ BAK NOW TECHDIRT! I DID NOT ORDER AMZ*PRIME

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Mike4, 11 May 2007 @ 7:37am

      Re:

      Hahaha... I'm sorry to post something without contributing to the actual article, but Kyle may have posted the funniest comment I've ever read (but it was $79 - not $75).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Matt Bennett, 11 May 2007 @ 7:38am

    Man, I hate the Oscars, generically. Never watch that crap. It's just a bunch a self-congratualatory jusnk, anyway. And they do retarded, clearly-we-have-an-agenda stuff like give Al Gore an Oscar. Give me a break.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Wyatt, 11 May 2007 @ 7:39am

    LOL

    Dosquatch, I'm confused as to why you don't see the promotional side of this. There are people who may not know how EXCITING the Oscars are until they see a free clip somewhere showing some AWESOME star giving a GREAT speech while crying REAL tears..

    Aw man, I can't wait to be blown away by the absolute PERFECT decision making skills of the Oscar people when selecting these WONDERFUL movies and stars as winners.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tarky7, 11 May 2007 @ 8:38am

    Jeepers !

    Your are right on point, again, as usual.

    A good example of the media industry trying to shoehorn their old business model into an interactive world.

    From my own recent interactions with clients I think a great deal of this is that the people (Oscars today, Viacom a month ago, the RIAA forever) are not using the Internet in the way that most people are using the Interent. The see it as a thing, a delivery device, they are not immersed in the experience.

    I ahve noticed as of late, that many of my clients want solutions vis a vis their websites, ecommerce, blogs, search, but they are not willing or capable to dive into the web and get a handle on the tools, the space, the experience.

    It can be very frustrating. It is the conceptual leap that is missing.

    Kinda like Pol Pot and Cambodia, it almost beomes more useful to deal with the youth, just let the old people build giants earthworks on a bowl of rice a day. They have been corrupted by TV and 'one way media'...

    ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Extreme Centrist, 11 May 2007 @ 8:44am

    Brilliant

    Who would have thought that a topic as insipid as the Oscars would produce such scintillating insights? ;-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Overcast, 11 May 2007 @ 8:45am

    Oscars, Emmys whatever -- are like watching someone masturbate. They may be having fun, but its really gross and boring for everyone else.

    hehe, good analogy ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Porter Fortress, 11 May 2007 @ 9:10am

    Techdirt Article Template

    Organization x is suing Company y because Company y infringed on a copyright by Organization x. We here at Techdirt believe that Organization x should be happy because of the free advertising from Company x.

    Seriously, enough with articles bitching about lawsuits for copyright infringement. We get it guys.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anon, 11 May 2007 @ 9:42am

      Re: Techdirt Article Template

      Forget it, Porter. I've been saying the same thing for months.

      I swear sometimes I think my TechDirt pages are cached.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Chris, 11 May 2007 @ 9:50am

      Re: Techdirt Article Template

      Yes Porter, we know that TechDirt is going to have an article about someone not understanding how IP and copyright or trademark infringement works. The purpose behind it however is to shed light on how frequent it happens. Almost everyday we hear about some other company, going about suing some other company, because they're too stupid to just read. So they go to court, and waste our tax dollars hoping that some other moron doesn't just read, and listens to some shmucks argue because they get paid very well to do so, and then votes in their favor because of how well articulated they are due to million dollar incentives.

      However, there are companies out there that do get it such as Nintendo. There are a handful of companies who revolve around the success of the wii. Have your Mii painted on a shirt, coffee mug, baby bib, or whatever. Have it even made into a doll. Or if you can't afford a Wii and you really wanted to make yourself a Mii go to http://www.joystiq.com/media/2006/10/mii.swf None of these sites get sued, slammed with ridiculous fines, or brought down with even so much of a cease and desist letter because the people over at Nintendo are smart enough and always have been to let people freely promote their goods. The Wii still doesn't have that many good games to offer, but Nintendo was able to put something on the market that not only was a fresh new spin on something "old," but was also appealing to people who might not have been interested in video games in the first place. In other words, they adapted their business model to changing times, let it be freely promoted, and now they're the number one selling game console.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sanguine Dream, 11 May 2007 @ 9:53am

    Control...

    that is all this is about. The MPA sounds like its going to take the route of the pro sports league and act as if they own every aspect of the Oscars. Don't be surprised is in a few years only official sponsors (read: media outlets that pay lots of money) will have permission to even mention the Oscars.


    Maybe if they didn't take 4 hours (almost 6 if you count the red carper nonsense) to give the top 15 awards (most of them aren't even awarded on tv and are just montaged together in a short clip) more people would watch. The movie industry has gotten arrogant and thinks that we the viewers will gobble up any trash they release and now that we see the trash for what it is they try to stop us from talking about it.

    They know the show is trash so they're hoping that by locking it down people will give in to curiosity, industry created hype, and the desire to be in on the water cooler chat the next day and decide to watch the Oscars.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Poster (profile), 11 May 2007 @ 10:32am

    Oy. Times like this, I wish I could insert images into my replies here, so I could put in that picture of Picard facepalming.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Cameron S, 11 May 2007 @ 4:08pm

    RE: No Thanks

    I find watching movie / music Awards Ceremonies for Entertainment people to be pretty boring. Nothing like watching some overpaid, undertalented people slap each other on the back for making 98% crap and viewing it as art. The vast majority of people are hacks that got lucky. I like the technical awards if anything, at least those people can do more than change outfits from movie to movie and think they are Sir Lawrence Olivier.

    When Black Eyed Peas awful song "My Humps" wins multiple music awards - its a sign that these industries aren't about true creativity anyways.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    YogiFish.com, 13 May 2007 @ 3:01pm

    It's About Perception

    The battle field for economic control on the internet has begun. The corporate giants are too big and conservative to understand the liberated thinking needed to profit from the internet's true power for them.

    If we promote TechDirt.com as a great site (and we do), then people might think we're associated with TechDirt.com in some way. And, If we then add advertising to our site, we're using that perceive association to our benefit. This, we believe, is the future internet commerce model that will work best, because of the sharing of value.

    But what happens if in our un-agreed to relationship we say something critical of TechDirt.com on our site? The public might assume that we must know what we're talking about, based on that same past perceived relationship.

    This is what the Oscar problem is all about, and we believe they have a good ethical point, but no law is written to control how someone can associate themselves with you by perception.

    They can't control the infinite voices of the virtual world, good or bad!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Tarek, 12 Aug 2007 @ 3:49am

    Watch sex picture

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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