Attorneys for the talk show host have fired off a cease and desist letter to retired Kansas City teacher Patrick Crowe, 69, over his efforts to draft her as a presidential candidate. In addition to demanding that he surrender his website oprah08.net (which lands visitors on this site) and give up his toll-free number 1-866-OPRAH08, the letter (courtesy Smoking Gun) insists (p. 2) that Crowe “refrain from using any and all references in any vehicle (including, without restriction, websites), for any reason, to Ms. Winfrey” or her properties. (Matt Campbell, “Quest to elect Oprah becomes publicity opera”, McClatchy/ Seattle Times, Sept. 23; Andrew Buncombe, “Oprah blocks bid to make her President”, The Independent (U.K.)/Belfast Telegraph, Sept. 22). Ann Althouse comments: “would Oprah be a good President? I think she’s too litigious.” (Sept. 24).
It’s become a thriving area for lawyers, with a growing volume of litigation much of it aimed at fan activity, such as fantasy sports leagues and web-based retransmission of game broadcasts (Tresa Baldas, “Pro Sports: Technology Changes Rules of the Game”, National Law Journal, Mar. 4).
When is it legally safe to circulate or publish fiction based on characters created by someone else? C.E. Petit (“Scrivener’s Error”) has put up a long series of posts over the past month on the question: first, second, sidebar, third, fourth. Part 4 discusses the Marvel multiplayer gaming lawsuit (see Jan. 4) (via Bainbridge).
The latest installment in the beloved musical spoof series sending up Broadway shows opened this month at the Douglas Fairbanks Theater in New York. As founder Gerald Alessandrini makes clear in his liner notes to vol. II, the series is made possible by the good-natured forbearance of many in the theater community: “Also special thanks to the real composers and lyricists and writers (alive and past) who have let us make mince meat out of their beautiful and well-crafted work. Without their reluctance toward lawsuits there would certainly be no Forbidden Broadway.”