You Can Run But You Can't Hide
(From AOL-Time Warner)
Written by: Alex Sandell
"AOL Time Warner is committed to serving the public interest by using our
unique talents and resources to enrich people's lives and strengthen communities
around the world. That goal is at the heart of everything we do as a company—
and it is the fundamental guiding principle of the AOL Time Warner Foundation.
In this way, we hope to set a new
standard of corporate citizenship—and to use the
power of communications, media and information technology to educate, inform and
inspire people around the world."
-AOL Time Warner Website
AOL Time Warner threatens yet another Harry
"In the Internet Century, education and literacy matter more than ever before" reads AOL Time Warner's website. Obviously, the company could care less about education and literacy when it comes to an avid Harry Potter reader creating his or her own website, voluntarily engaging in self-education and literacy projects. Warner Brothers is, once again, threatening legal action against a Harry Potter fan for having the nerve to create a Harry Potter fan site. This time they're going after 15-year-old Christie Chan, a Singaporean "webmistress" who registered the domain name www.harrypotternetwork.net. They told Chan that use of the Potter domain name was likely to "cause consumer confusion or dilution of intellectual property rights." Warner Brothers isn't upset that Chan, or any other Potter fan/webmaster they've strong-armed into surrendering their domain name, are making money off of their sites, or selling illegal Potter merchandise (none of them are), they're worried that, if Warner Brothers, and their official licensees, aren't the only ones with Potter sites on the web, they (Warner Brothers) may suffer a small loss. The legal letters the WB are sending out are written on behalf of Warner Brothers and Potter author (and queen of ripping off various material from a ton of other books and calling it her own) J.K. Rowling. Certain sites such as www.potterwar.org.uk are asking Potter fans to write to Rowling's agent, and make them aware of all that's going on. I sensed that the webmaster behind the page, Alastair Alexander, who emailed me personally, asking me to put up a link to his page, believed this was all the WB's fault, and poor J.K. Rowling's name was merely being tossed around by lawyers to intimidate the fans as much as they possibly could. According to Alexander, Rowling has not made a statement regarding Warner Brothers threatening her most dedicated fans, and therefore, if we send enough mail to her agent, she may come around. In my opinion, I think Rowling is being a coward, and letting Warner Brothers do the dirty work for her, in hopes that her most diehard fans won't refuse to open their wallets when "Harry Potter and his Corporate Minions" is released in 2002. Rowling could very easily stop this all with 13 words: "I won't write another 'Harry Potter' book unless you stop harassing my fans." Why hasn't Rowling done this? Because, like George "Star Wars" Lucas before her, the only fantasy she really cares about anymore is the one she keeps having over how many more millions she can make. 20th Century Fox has pulled these exact same stunts with a large chunk of fan-based Star Wars sites. Has George Lucas done anything to help his fans? Not unless you count Jar Jar Binks' winning sense of humor, and the 300th video re-release of the original trilogy (DVD coming by 2077!). Regardless, it all boils down to money. J.K. Rowling and Warner Brothers are both convinced that they might lose some if those pesky fans keep building Harry Potter websites. I wonder if either of them have ever taken the time to figure out that it is those same "pesky" fans that made them the millions/billions that they have made off of the Potter industry, in the first place? If this individual and the corporation she works for were scraping along to get by, I might be able to understand their actions, but last I heard Rowling brought home 15 million dollars for her Potter book(s) and Warner Brothers merged with AOL, for combined assets worth approximately 40 billion dollars. This corporate monster stomping out fan websites, which inspire thousands of people to read, and even create websites of their own, reminds me a lot of the book burning the Nazis engaged in half a century ago. These corporations have no shame.
You can run, but you can't hide (From AOL Time
When AOL and Time Warner merged, a corporate entity reared a head so ugly it made former corporate king of sleaze, Microsoft, almost look like a good guy. The entire event caused me to want to escape into a good movie, or book, or magazine, or website. Unfortunately, AOL Time Warner now owned most of them. If I tried to chat with a far away friend on ICQ, I was using an AOL Time Warner chat program. If I received an email from a pal on Compuserve, that email came to me via AOL Time Warner. If I decided I just wanted to leave the fucking house and get out for a while, I'd most likely glance at Mapquest to get some good directions. Too bad Mapquest is now owned by AOL Time Warner. At least I could feel a little less guilty by glancing at it through a Netscape browser, rather than that Microsoft thing. Oh, wait, I guess not, Netscape is now owned by AOL Time Warner. Maybe I'll start up Winamp, crank out some tunes, and clear my head. Winamp's now the property of AOL Time Warner? Suddenly the music doesn't sound quite as good. I guess if I just put a CD in my player, and leave the computer behind, I could jam to some groovy music . . . as long as it's not on Atlantic Records, Elektra Records, London-Sire Records, Rhino Records, WB Records, Revolution Records, Giant Records, Maverick Records, Strictly Rhythm Records, or Sub Pop Records (the crowning kings of "independence," right?) and wasn't sent to me by Columbia House. I suppose I could hop in the recliner and watch some TV. Bugs Bunny's wacky antics could get my mind off all this, or maybe those meddling kids on Scooby-Doo could do the job. Too bad both Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera are now owned by AOL Time Warner, and the aforementioned cartoons will only be found on their networks. Not that AOL Time Warner doesn't have enough networks to go around, what with WB Television, New Line Television, TBS Superstation, Turner Network Television (TNT), Cartoon Network, Turner Classic Movies, CNN, Headline News, CNN International, CNNfn, CNN/Sports Illustrated, HBO and Cinemax. Well, at least there's always Comedy Central there for you when you need a good laugh. Uh, I take that back, they're a "joint venture" with the AOL Time Warner gang. Damn. Okay, fine, I'll go see a movie. I mean, it can't be a Warner Bros. movie, or one from New Line Cinema, or even Castle Rock Entertainment, but I'm sure there's SOMETHING out there I can see without selling out my ethics for the price of a ticket. Hmm...all seven films playing in my town are either owned by AOL Time Warner or Walt Disney. So much for that. Now I really have nothing else to do other than sit down and read a good magazine. Maybe a little news will help make sense of this all. Let's see, is Time a safe read? No. Sports Illustrated? No. People? No. Entertainment Weekly? No. Fortune (not that I'd read that piece of shit anyway)? No. Money (see my comment on Fortune)? No. In Style? No. Real Simple? No. Time for Kids? No. Sports Illustrated for Kids? No. Sports Illustrated for women (what the fuck is that?)? No. Teen People? No. Southern Living (uh, you've got to be kidding)? No. Progressive Farmer (really, you're kidding me, right?)? No. Southern Accents (I've heard plenty of 'em)? No. Parenting? No. Family Life? No. Baby Talk? No. Healthy Pregnancy (wow, there's a big market out there for new parents)? No. Popular Science? No. Outdoor Life? No. Field & Stream? No. Outdoor Explorer? No. Golf Magazine (BORING)? No. Senior Golfer (EVEN MORE BORING)? No. Any of the many numerous "extreme sports" magazines? No. Well, poop. I guess I'll have to go for the laughs, and pick up an issue of MAD. What me corporate? Alfred E. Neuman is now owned by AOL Time Warner?!? I'm still in the mood for a comic type thingie, so I guess I'll grab the newest issue of Hellblazer. WHAT? Vertigo and DC comics are owned by AOL Time Warner, too? Hell, I guess I'll just go for a walk, before the bastards buy the street, the air, the trees and the world itself.
"For the higher he climbs, the more alluring his old goal that was once promised him rises
from the veil of the past, and with feverish avidity his keenest minds see the dream of
world domination tangibly approaching"
Articles and graphic copyright 2001 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved]. If you copy this, without my permission, I'll "merge" my fist with your rectum and pull your head back out of your ass.
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