Monday, June 05, 2006

Oprah Reality Check 2

My love-hate relationship with Gayle King's bff, Oprah Winfrey, is well-documented on my blog, but The Big O's latest move has completely pushed this conundrum over the line -- namely the First Amendment.

One of my fave blogs -- The Malcontent -- frequently features short video clips (usually of gay interest) from various TV shows and the like. He received a letter from a Harpo lawyer recently requesting that he remove any of these clips that featured Oprah's show. Fair enough. My blogger pal quickly responded to the lawyer and let it be known that he had no intention of violating anyone's copyright, and asked if there was any middle ground that might be reached, citing the ever-ambiguous "fair use" standard of the law (17 USC § 107). For those unfamiliar with this, even copyrighted stuff can be used legally if it's for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching etc.

How did Oprah's lawyer respond? He ignored the fair use statue and repeated his request, which included the following: "Remove each of the photographs of Ms. Winfrey and/or show guests on the set of The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as all video excerpts of The Oprah Winfrey Show, that appear on the Website; and (ii) refrain from using any and all references to Ms. Winfrey, "The Oprah Winfrey Show", and any elements that incorporate Harpo's intellectual property and/or Ms. Winfrey's name, image and likeness without first having obtained Harpo's express, written consent."

Come again? Now you're not allowed to mention Oprah Winfrey without her written consent? "Any and all references to Ms. Winfrey"? Are you fucking kidding me? I'm assuming this lawyer is acting on her behalf -- so she has approved this so-called request. This is the most outrageous -- not to mention delusional and egotistical -- thing I have ever heard of.

I thought we'd already gone over this, Oprah, but maybe it can't be said enough. Yes. you seem like a very nice woman. Yes. you have done a lot of wonderful things for the world (did you see Mariah Carey's face light up when you gave her that diamond bracelet?). Yes, you have a lot of money, which gives you a lot of power and influence. But no, you are not God. (Repeat: you are not God.) No, you cannot control everything. Let it go a little Ms. Winfrey -- kind of like you've let your diet go again recently -- and surely you will find even more fulfillment in your already very rich life.

(And all this time I thought it was only the likes of Communist dictators --and Barbra Streisand -- who tried to control every aspect of their image, even by subverting freedom of the press ... )

  • Read: Never Pick Fights With Women Who Buy Pudding By the Barrel (TheMalcontent)
  • Read: Oprah Reality Check (212)
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