Multiple Hollywood Studios Making Movies About Julian Assange; How Many Will Pay Him For His Story?

from the just-wondering... dept

We've all heard the refrain from the MPAA a million times: profiting off of someone else's work is "theft" and we need new laws to stop that kind of thing. So, it struck me as interesting to see an article in the Wall Street Journal, claiming that multiple Hollywood studios are planning movies about Julian Assange and Wikileaks:
Among the studios with WikiLeaks movies in development are Time Warner Inc.'s HBO Films, DreamWorks Studios, Comcast Corp.'s Universal Pictures and Annapurna Pictures, the company run by Megan Ellison, daughter of Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison.
Most of the article talks about the difficulty of creating a movie based on a true story that's still very much in progress. However, they just barely touch on the question of paying for the story. After all, the story of Assange is based on "his work," right? There had been one project that sought to buy an option on Assange's own memoirs, which were due to be published by Random House, but apparently Assange failed to deliver and the deal fell through. Other projects did option different versions of the Assange story -- but not from Assange himself. One optioned the book from former WikiLeaks spokesman, turned Wikileaks critic, Daniel Domscheit-Berg. Another optioned a profile of Assange that was done in the New Yorker.

However, all of the actual stories focus on Assange and his work in building up Wikileaks. If Hollywood really believes so strongly in not "profiting off the works of others" without fairly compensating them, why aren't they lining up to pay Assange?


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    Pixelation, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 3:04pm

    "...why aren't they lining up to pay Assange?"

    The don't want to make it onto the list of terrorism supporters.

     

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    usul_of_arakis (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 3:05pm

    Because Hollywood understand "fair use" completely.. except when it doesn't suit them.

     

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      Chosen Reject (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 3:47pm

      Re:

      Precisely. I think they ought to make a movie about Assange, but not have any mention of wikileaks unless his estate agrees to it, which of course they won't do unless they get to have their own creative input.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 4:54pm

      Re:

      I'm sure Hollywood will pay Assange, as soon as the movie makes a profit. I think the current projection, by our Hollywood accountants, is that the movie should turn a profit sometime around never.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 3:07pm

    profiting off of someone else's work is "theft"
    This defines their business model doesn't it

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 3:10pm

    Assange is America's enemy, so it's all good.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 3:21pm

    Why should they be allowed to profit from another's accomplishments?

     

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    Vog (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 3:32pm

    If they don't pay him for it, I'll just pirate the movie. Turnabout is fair use -- er, play.

     

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    cjstg (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 3:35pm

    are you high mike?

    since when have you supported paying people for their "story" unless they wrote it. in fact, you are the one that regularly rants on about people who feel they deserve to be paid just because somebody made a story about their life.

    this level of inconsistency is becoming a problem, mike. i really like this site, but i'm starting to be unable to trust you to speak coherently because you are too busy trying to nitpick the xxaa's at any cost, including your integrity.

     

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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 3:41pm

      Re: are you high mike?

      2/10

      Try harder!



      Perhaps Mike Masnick is pointing out the inconsistency (ie hypocrisy) of Hollywood.

      In Hollywood logic, one pays for the right to use a story. Yet, here is an example of Hollywood using somebody's story and not bothering to follow their own rules!

       

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      MrWilson, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 3:45pm

      Re: are you high mike?

      You're reading into the article more than is there. Mike didn't support the position that everyone should be paid for others building on their work.

      Case in point:

      "If Hollywood really believes so strongly in not "profiting off the works of others" without fairly compensating them, why aren't they lining up to pay Assange?"

      He's pointing out the hypocrisy and contradiction in Hollywood's position. Hollywood believes in someone being paid for others profiting off of their work when Hollywood is the one getting paid.

       

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        ltlw0lf (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 7:11am

        Re: Re: are you high mike?

        He's pointing out the hypocrisy and contradiction in Hollywood's position. Hollywood believes in someone being paid for others profiting off of their work when Hollywood is the one getting paid.

        I vote for an involuntary name change for MPAA to "Mega Piracy Association of America", given their past as patent infringers who escaped prosecution by moving to the wild west, and now using the same laws which they skirted in the past to ram their idealistic bullshit down our throats. I don't think the MPAA has ever not been hypocritical.

        I remember the last time someone tried to make a "true story" about someone who the government vilified; a chap by the name of Kevin Mitnick, and the industry didn't even try to make the crap close to reality. And it flopped. Which hopefully this one will too.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 9:18am

        Re: Re: are you high mike?

        ""If Hollywood really believes so strongly in not "profiting off the works of others" without fairly compensating them, why aren't they lining up to pay Assange?""

        Where is the "work", specifically a script or similar?

        Mike is screwing around with the word "WORK" here. Assange's "work" is as leader of Wikileaks. He hasn't produced a "work" about his life.

        There is no "work" to license.

        Mike is being a prick, as always.

         

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          PaulT (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 10:52am

          Re: Re: Re: are you high mike?

          So, nobody will care if I make a movie about how big an asshole Jack Valenti was, or how corrupt the BBFC was as long as I don't reference anything they specifically created? Cool, I'll pass them along to our resident AC moron if their heirs complain about the script I write, then...

           

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          ltlw0lf (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 11:00am

          Re: Re: Re: are you high mike?

          Mike is screwing around with the word "WORK" here. Assange's "work" is as leader of Wikileaks. He hasn't produced a "work" about his life.

          First, as has been said before, Mike doesn't say that he is against the industry creating works about Assange. He is saying that they are being hypocritical (which I agree) when they say that you must pay them for every use, but then they don't pay for use.

          Second, none of the MLB/NBA/NFL players "work" by creating scripts or similar, so according to you, they shouldn't complain when someone uses their likeness in a video game. There is no "work" to license in their case either, yet they demand payment for the use of their likeness in a video game.

           

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      The Groove Tiger (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 3:51pm

      Re: are you high mike?

      Your logic: calling someone's bullshit equals agreeing with the bullshit.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 4:02pm

      Re: are you high mike?

      since when have you supported paying people for their "story" unless they wrote it.


      then they are going to pay Mike? or the people at CNN or other news outlets? After all, they did write it.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 4:27pm

      Re: are you high mike?

      You either fail reading comprehenshion or are trolling.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 9:45pm

      Re: are you high mike?

      ":this level of inconsistency is becoming a problem, mike. i really like this site, but i'm starting to be unable to trust you to speak coherently because you are too busy trying to nitpick the xxaa's at any cost, including your integrity."

      I agree. Mike knows this a story ABOUT someone, not a story written by someone. This isn't Assange writing his bio and the studios ripping him off, this is about someone in the news getting a movie made about what has happened with them in a public way.

      Mike, are you suggesting that the newspapers should pay the subjects of news stories they write about? Should "unauthorized" biography writers be sent to the gulag for not paying?

      It's hard to take you seriously when you try way too hard to pick at nits. It shadows the rest of your posts and make me wonder what else you have intentionally gotten wrong or intentionally ignored.

       

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      PaulT (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 12:31am

      Re: are you high mike?

      Hey, at least today's bout of angry failing at reading comprehension comes from someone with an account, so I'll respond.

      Mike's not supporting or agreeing with the idea that people should have to pay for every use of every story. He's merely pointing out the hypocrisy. If Hollywood were following through with their crusade against people "profiting without payment", then they would be paying Assange for his story. But, they're not. They conveniently rediscover fair use and free interpretation when it's they who come to profit from it.

      Mike's pointing out the stupidity and hypocrisy, not agreeing with it. That's pretty clear from the article he wrote, although for some reason that differs from the article you seem to have read.

      "i'm starting to be unable to trust you to speak coherently"

      Everybody else seems to have understood his point. Methinks it's not Mike at fault here.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 6:31am

        Re: Re: are you high mike?

        No Paul, he is creating a strawman and letting you mentally blow it down, and by extention, buy into the rest of his malarkey.

        People don't have to pay for every use of every event that occurs. It's a bullshit attempt to call Hollywood out, and in the end, it just sounds bitter and twisted.

        You may have understood his point, but that is only because it is pretty childish.

         

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          The Groove Tiger (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 6:37am

          Re: Re: Re: are you high mike?

          No anonymous coward, Mike has already pointed out that people don't have to pay for every use of every event that occurs. He's also pointing out that, according to the RIAA/MIAA, people DO have to pay for every use of every event that occurs, as long as it's them who's getting paid.

          You may have not understood his point, but that is only because you are pretty childish.

           

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          PaulT (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 6:50am

          Re: Re: Re: are you high mike?

          Your ignorance and inability to understand even the simplest points do not reflect upon me. Do you have to extend this into some idiot conspiracy theory to allow you to attack Mike, or do you agree with the point actually raised - that these people conveniently only remember fair use when it benefits them?

          "strawman"
          "bullshit"
          "childish"

          On the other hand, I do know that these are words you're intimately familiar with. If only you wouldn't use them as the basis for every comment you write.

           

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    Prashanth (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 3:39pm

    Meta-leak

    Here's why: if they don't pay him, he'll leak information about this travesty of justice on WikiLeaks, and then they'll have more information to extend their movie for free!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 3:44pm

    Why making yet another movie about Assange? Robert Foster already made a couple.

     

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    johnny canada, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 3:47pm

    There is a book about him.

    You can download it from Mega ....

    Oh never mind.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 5:14pm

      Re:

      Soooo, thats why *clicks fingers* its all so clear now........sneaky buggers :)

       

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      G Thompson (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 7:11pm

      There already is a book and it's FREE

      The original book about Julian (and other hackers of the time) and even partly researched by Julian called

      Underground: Tales of hacking, madness and obsession on the electronic frontier by Suelette Dreyfus was created into a documentary by the Australian ABC.

      Also the book has been available in multiple electronic formats since 2001 FOR FREE by the author

      http://www.underground-book.net/

      Note: I neither confirm nor deny that I nor any of my pseudonyms are talked about within this book.

       

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    benjamin roberts, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 4:03pm

    Because they're probably going to be populist crap dragging his name through the mud (if that's still possible). If Hollywood is shaking hands with Obummer, and there's talk of movies being made about the assassination of Bin Laden, then it's obvious that the movie studios are just mouthpieces for political agendas. They always have been anyway. The word "Germany" or "German" couldn't even be spoken in Hitchcocks' early movies, because they were made during wartime.
    Movie studios have a lot to gain by being the lap dog of government right now. Their collective push to ruin internet freedom (SOPA, ACTA, any other acronyms I've missed) stand to gain lots of points in government circles. They can put a lot of money, and cool actors and CGI blockbuster special effects to work winning the hearts and minds of the world.
    It's not just movies I might add. Since storytelling was invented it's been used to push agendas.
    I'm Australian. I just hope if these movies get made, they show the world how feeble my government has been in doing anything to help Assange.

     

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      Al Bert (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 7:53pm

      Re:

      DING!
      A movie made by hollywood about the career of Assange would bear as much resemblance to reality as a bowl of mashed potatoes made about his career.
      In either case, america would eagerly hunger to eat a steaming pile.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 4:14pm

    We probably won't see it here, but I can already see the counter-argument of not paying Assange and making the movies anyway:

    "Well, Assange was being unreasonable and demanding too much" or "Assange wasn't cooperating with what we wanted."

    Oh, you mean kind of like HBO not providing Game of Thrones without having to jump through hoops and paying (what the public considers) unreasonable rates?

    Suck it up Hollywood. You can't make us follow your demands while not following the demands of others

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 5:00pm

      Re:

      "Well, Assange was being unreasonable and demanding too much"

      - We actually tried asking for more then $0!!!!

      "Assange wasn't cooperating with what we wanted."

      - We wanted to show that he was an evil terrorist and he wanted us to portray the truth. The nerve of some people!

      Oh, you mean kind of like HBO not providing Game of Thrones without having to jump through hoops and paying (what the public considers) unreasonable rates?

      - But people expect us to make it hard to get and cost lots of money. It's what the people want!

      Suck it up Hollywood. You can't make us follow your demands while not following the demands of others

      - Sure we can, we've been doing it for years. It's what we're good at.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 5:08pm

    Coming to a cinema near you

    Whistleblowers of the carribean


    Two birds.......

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 7:02pm

    However, all of the actual stories focus on Assange and his work in building up Wikileaks. If Hollywood really believes so strongly in not "profiting off the works of others" without fairly compensating them, why aren't they lining up to pay Assange?

    Nice idiotic straw man, Pirate Mike. Could you be any more desperate to say something bad about the MPAA? It's really sad, dude.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 7:27pm

    Actually, one of the more retarded posts on Techdirt in a long time.

    You don't pay to tell a story, plain and simple. You didn't suggest that the people making the Andre3000 Hendrix bio should pay, why would you suggest it here?

    Just more proof of a very selective and very nasty agenda.

     

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      G Thompson (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 7:50pm

      Re:

      Intelligent minds would like to know:

      Then why the hell are you still here posting and complaining and being generally obnoxious?

      Needy much?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 9:15pm

      Re:

      So if the other posts are usually less "retarded" by your effective admission, why is there even a problem?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 9:31pm

        Re: Re:

        Less retarded doesn't suggest not retarded. Just this post is particularly retarded, way more than usual. Mike knows the answer, he is just trying to be a prick.

         

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      Rikuo (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 11:37pm

      Re:

      "you don't pay to tell a story"

      Hollywood paid the Tolkien Estate to make Lord of the Rings, essentially the same thing.
      That's not the only one. Hollywood has paid the Arthur Conan Doyle estate many times so they won't freak out whenever a new Sherlock Holmes movie comes out, even one that is not based on any of the Doyle books.
      Paying to tell a story is a common practice with Hollywood.

       

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      Rikuo (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 11:39pm

      Re:

      You have reading comprehension fail.
      Mike IS NOT suggesting, repeat NOT, suggesting that you should pay to tell a story.
      He is pointing out the hypocrisy of Hollywood saying "If you want to tell a story in movie about Random Person XYZ, pay them"...but then Hollywood turns around and plans several movies based on Assange, with no word on how they're going to pay him.
      Mike IS NOT suggesting that they SHOULD pay. He is writing and pointing out their HYPOCRISY.

       

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      PaulT (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 12:39am

      Re:

      "Actually, one of the more retarded posts on Techdirt in a long time."

      I'll agree that it is, if only because there's retarded posters like yourself who seem to not only have missed the clear point of the article, but attacking Mike for the very thing he's mocking. He's agreeing with you morons, not making a serious suggestion.

      "Just more proof of a very selective and very nasty agenda."

      An anonymous idiot without any reading comprehension skills who sees everything as a conspiracy. What a surprise.

       

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 12:52am

      Re:

      You don't pay to tell a story, plain and simple. You didn't suggest that the people making the Andre3000 Hendrix bio should pay, why would you suggest it here?

      Reading comprehension fail.

       

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      Colin, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 6:07am

      Re:

      You don't pay to tell a story, plain and simple.

      Uhhh, since when? So I don't have to pay to tell a Spider-man story? Good to know!

       

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    Rapnel (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 7:51pm

    Well

    This might be because these folks are not only bad for democracy but bad for any civil society. Hell, even N. Korea can't put on a play with anything remotely resembling Mickey Fucking Mouse without these fuckers exerting pressure. To a place where the state of things is naught but sheltered oppression. "Respect the IP" They say.

    Pollutants to society with their ever self-serving existence and demands. Worse, their antithetical influence on our, supposedly, democratic politics has gone too far for far too long. (Lamar? Mr. Vice President?)

    These folks have all but single-handedly (barring the drug stance) instilled the greatest disrespect for the rule of law and its subsequent result in the abuse of citizenry.

    They, in my irritated opinion, do not deserve one more fucking red cent. Lawn.. Leave it.

    I, I respect your IP so, so much.

     

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    Tinnitus Regius, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 7:57pm

    Not About Money

    The little guy standing all alone on one leaf of principle grass against awesome might is a story that rings my Bells of Joy. Try Jesus, Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama.

     

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    Digitalistically Speaking (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 8:03pm

    Sounds like it's gonna be a somewhat boring movie anyway so I probably won't watch it.
    Unless the the main character is some sort of action hero type with a super hot and sexy sidekick who is always smarter the he is and they drive a super cool car that also morphs in to a helicopter and a fighter jet and a speed boat and a motorcycle and a soap box derby racer and a jet ski and a...maybe if they hire some really good writers this thing could have a chance.

    What were we talking about again?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 11th, 2012 @ 11:36pm

    These movies will dictate if Assange is good or bad to public opinion.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 1:05am

    Because they're fucking hypocrites.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 1:48am

    'If Hollywood really believes so strongly in not "profiting off the works of others" without fairly compensating them, why aren't they lining up to pay Assange?'

    HAHAHA you have got to be kiddin' me!!!

     

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      techflaws (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 2:16am

      Re:

      HAHAHA, another reading comprehension fail. Feeling proud?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 2:32am

      Re:

      Too funny, there are no monsters there! C'mon, hurricane head, where are your sleeping giant artist friends, eh? Don't you think it's time they woke up, if they even exist? Or are Lowery's shoes so dirty that they have to line up to give them a spitshine?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 3:05am

    Studios: we're doing this for the artists and creatives in our industry! Oh wait...nevermind that. We're just saying that to pass new laws in our favor.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 2:48pm

    You can bet Assange will be made out to be the bad guy.

    Domscheit...huh-huh-huh!

     

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    humanbee (profile), Jul 12th, 2012 @ 3:49pm

    Who is going to watch if they piss of the suporters?

    By not coming to an agreement with and paying wikileaks.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 8:10pm

    FUCKING A!! A movie that we can all feel good about downloading!

    I'm pirating this movie FOR AMERICA!

     

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    jim dooris, Jul 12th, 2012 @ 11:42pm

    Julian Assange

    Julian Assange deserves any monies he can get for his story. he has paid dearly for his development of wiki-leaks. Since the release of US government classified documents. The US government has been on a campaign to destroy him, legally, financially, and physically. Mr. Assange will die in a tragic car accident, plane crash, or house fire in about 10 years, after things have quieted down and wiki-leaks are all but forgotten. Of course this will be an accident and the US will nit have had a hand in it, But the US Bureaucracy always gets revenge. What could you do with $56 billion dollars a year you do not have to account for (The US Black ops budget 2011).

     

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    Jose C, Jul 29th, 2012 @ 10:43am

    A movie studio does not have to pay someone to do a movie about them or a pay those involved in historical events when a movie studio does a movie about a historical event.

    There have been many movies done about public figures such as the Kennedy's, Lincoln, Nixon, and Dr. Salk. and there have been many movies done about the historical events such as the attack on Pearl Harbor, the desegregation crisis in Central High in Little Rock, Ford Motor Company, and the Vietnam War. In most cases those public figures or those involved in those historical events were not paid.

     

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    brenda miles-, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 9:39am

    no matter how i feel about the freedom of information at this point in time what Mr Assange has done is against the law no matter how wrong that law is you shouln't be able to profit from crime. bonie and clyde, bugsy, alcapone, butch and sundance were they or their estates paid for the movies about them

     

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    identicon
    brenda miles-, Sep 19th, 2012 @ 9:39am

    no matter how i feel about the freedom of information at this point in time what Mr Assange has done is against the law no matter how wrong that law is you shouln't be able to profit from crime. bonie and clyde, bugsy, alcapone, butch and sundance were they or their estates paid for the movies about them

     

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