Fun With Lawyers

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No, your honor, I have not been naughty, but I'm willing to try.

Most people, during the course of their day, do not think about lawyers. Even if they’re unfortunate enough to be married to one. People prefer to think about happier things like possible Ebola outbreaks in Connecticut or radioactive waste being stored under preschools or undergoing a splenectomy performed by a drunk homeless person or horrible car crashes that wipe out an entire order of nuns or watching puppies being eviscerated on prime time television or being strapped to a table and having their genitalia savaged by Brillo wielding terrorists or, well, pretty much anything not involving lawyers. And it’s easy enough to understand why. Lawyers whole reason for existence is to make human beings miserable. They get a special thrill by figuring out ways to get serial killers released on $10 bail or to allow major corporations to sell poison as food and turn a nifty profit at it. Sure, on television lawyers are there to “defend the law” and the “rights of the common man.” Well, on television there are vampires and people who can fly. None of them exist either.

“Oh, Mr. Big Bad,” you’re saying, “quit being so alarmist. Lawyers aren’t that bad.”

Really? Apple’s new EULA (End User Licensing Agreement) says that they own your creative soul and, no, you may not have it back.

A lesser writer would say that Apple is jobbing its customers, but I won’t stoop that low.

Hiding dirty little gotchas inside of long, legalese agreements is nothing new. Companies have been doing it for ages. They’re starting to push the envelope more and more, however. Sony has used license agreements to prevent users from taking part in a class-action lawsuit (They’re being sued now). Not bad enough? Now it seems like Apple’s EULA for its iBooks Author publishing platform actually calls dibs on exclusive publishing rights to what you write with it, like if Photoshop laid claim to images you created with it. Needless to say, this severely affects your ability to sell your own work.

Basically, Apple says that anything created with the software, a “Work,” is subject to a few rules. First off, if you want to give it away for free, that’s fine, go ahead. If you want to sell it though, you have to sell it through Apple. What’s more, you very well may have to enter into an additional written agreement before you can start selling. What’s more, Apple reserves the right not to distribute your Work at all, for any — or no — reason, meaning that if you wrote something with iBooks Author and Apple doesn’t want to sell it, you’re out of luck. Also, when you agree to the EULA, you’re agreeing to accept “lost business opportunities or lost profits” as a result of use. Yeah.

Now before you get too worked up, there’s something here that bears emphasis. Apple is not claiming any right to your words, they’re claiming right to the Work. If you rewrite those words elsewhere, they’re still yours. If you export the Work, it’s theirs. This means that you can take your book elsewhere if you just export the plain text, but at the cost of formatting, which could be a lot of work on a whole book. Still, better than nothing. And iBooks Author doesn’t even seem to publish in the industry standard .epub format anyways, so there’d be issues with taking your exported work elsewhere.

As far as I can tell, this is the first instance of an EULA restricting the output of a program. Granted, EULA’s will tell you that you can’t use a program to make a certain kind of thing, but they never tell you what you can and can’t do with the things you’ve made. Fortunately, all this has come out before most anyone would have a chance to write any books, and things will probably be a little clearer if and when Apple gets involved in the conversation. For now, if you want to be absolutely sure you can do whatever you want with the words you write, stick with your usual platforms.

The offending language from the EULA:

B. Distribution of your Work. As a condition of this License and provided you are in compliance with its terms, your Work may be distributed as follows:
(i) if your Work is provided for free (at no charge), you may distribute the Work by any available means;
(ii) if your Work is provided for a fee (including as part of any subscription-based product or service), you may only distribute the Work through Apple and such distribution is subject to the following limitations and conditions: (a) you will be required to enter into a separate written agreement with Apple (or an Apple affiliate or subsidiary) before any commercial distribution of your Work may take place; and (b) Apple may determine for any reason and in its sole discretion not to select your Work for distribution.

Apple will not be responsible for any costs, expenses, damages, losses (including without limitation lost business opportunities or lost profits) or other liabilities you may incur as a result of your use of this Apple Software, including without limitation the fact that your Work may not be selected for distribution by Apple.

Hooray, they can sue you for selling your own book! I’m sure a non-Apple attorney will have something to say about that.

I have never been a big fan of Apple’s products. Mostly because, excluding their computers, they have been more flash than substance. I distinctly remember being a passenger in a car that was using an i-Phone app to get directions. It was the day of the paintball video shoot. The app told us to “turn right on Butterfield Road.” Easy enough to say, difficult to do when you’re on a bridge, 30 feet above Butterfield Road, that has no exits. Fortunately the driver had some working brain cells so we did not plummet to our fiery deaths.

Of course that’s part of the problem too. People trust things a little too much.

On the other hand some things are built on trust. The second happiest place on Earth, Disney World, is one such place. You go there to put the real world behind you for a few hours. You want to get a picture with Mickey and ride a few rides and sing that stupid “It’s a small world” song and buy too many souvenirs. You do not go there to get your pert little bottom repeatedly spanked and then have some pervert gob-smack you with a french kiss.

Even if it was part of the show

A woman claims that a Disney Channel comedian repeatedly spanked her in front of her two children and a live studio audience, a new lawsuit claims.

According to the complaint, warm-up act Ron Pearson invited Kellie Rodriguez, the plaintiff, to join him and two other audience members on stage during a December 2011 taping of “Good Luck Charlie.” The contestants were asked to do their best “silly dance” to the Village People classic “YMCA.” But when Rodriguez — accompanied by her two children, sister-in-law, and her sister-in-law’s three daughters — began her “silly dance,” Pearson proceeded to spank her on stage, TMZ reports.

“This unwarranted and unconsented spanking was relentless, and did not cease until Plaintiff physically turned around to stop it,” the suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, says.

At the end, Pearson requested a kiss on the cheek, and when Rodriguez obliged, the comedian pulled a fast one on her and turned in for a kiss on the lips, according to the lawsuit.

Rodriguez also says that she witnessed Pearson “looking up and down Plaintiff’s body in a lewd manner” by the restroom prior to the public incident.

Rodriguez seeks punitive damages for “sexual assault, battery, negligence, negligent hiring, negligent retention of unfit employees, negligent supervision, negligent training, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and intentional infliction of emotional distress,” Courthouse News reports.

Pearson is also known for his appearances on “That 70′s Show,” “The Drew Carrey Show,” and “Malcolm and Eddie.”

Keep in mind that the lawyer filing this suit is not doing so to protect the young mother’s rights. No, that would be something that would be done in criminal court. Instead he’s going after goo-gobs of money. I don’t blame him I’m just saying there’s no altruism involved here at all.

Of course, Disney is getting creepier by the day. And that’s saying something. This is a company that was founded by a guy who supported the Nazis antisemitism prior to World War II, made some wildly racist cartoons and then opened the world’s first sanitized utopia. And that’s the sane stuff.

His company has gone on to cleverly hide erotica in children’s entertainment. Which is a level of creepy I don’t even want to consider. But I think it does explain the continuing fascination some people have for Disney related porn. No, that’s not even a little bit safe. Only click that link with adult supervision.

“But Mr. Big Bad,” you opine, “you’re not being fair. The law is all about respect.”

Sure it is. That’s why a federal trial is being reenacted by talking squirrel puppets.

It’s courtroom drama crossed with “Sesame Street,” as a television station barred from using cameras during a high-profile corruption trial covers the highlights with a nightly puppet show. It stars a talking squirrel “reporter” who provides the play-by-play in an exaggerated, “you won’t believe this” tone.

“It’s a satirical look at the trial and, again, I think we have it appropriately placed at the end of the newscast,” WOIO news director Dan Salamone said Thursday.

He said the puppets are in addition to the station’s regular coverage of the Akron federal trial of ex-Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora, the longtime Democratic power broker in Cleveland

“It’s not intended in any way to replace any of the serious coverage of the trial,” Salamone said.

Dimora, a former county Democratic chairman in Cleveland, has pleaded not guilty to bribery and racketeering. He also faces another trial on a second indictment.

Cameras banned
With cameras barred from court, the news media has relied on artist sketches of the proceedings inside and daily video of Dimora walking into court with his wife and his defense team.

The station uses the puppets repeating testimony and performing as witnesses, reporters and jurors to detail the case, which began last week and is expected to last three months. The trial has been a daily staple of front-page coverage in The Plain Dealer newspaper and often leads TV newscasts in town.

According to Salamone, the puppets are meant to lampoon the sometimes-steamy testimony, including details of a topless hot tub excursion in Las Vegas and taped phone calls with off-color and often unprintable comments.

The station is awaiting the arrival of an updated puppet that looks like the newly clean-shaven Dimora. For now, the station has been showing the back of a puppet’s head that doesn’t resemble Dimora, Salamone said.

And if Dimora grows his familiar salt-and-pepper beard back? “We’ve asked for some accessories in the event that he might decide to regrow his beard,” Salamone said.

Late newscasts
The puppets perform near the end of the late newscasts on WOIO and its sister station, WUAB. The stations started using them on Tuesday.

At that point in the newscast, Salamone said, “People are accustomed to seeing a lighter story, what is often called a ‘kicker’ story.”

Salamone said viewers are in for another lookalike puppet debut when Dimora’s longtime friend and political ally, former Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo, testifies for the prosecution. Russo has pleaded guilty to taking bribes and hopes his cooperation will trim his nearly 22-year sentence.

Karl Idsvoog, of Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said Thursday that the puppet show didn’t work. “Why would anyone approve that to go on the air because it was dull and boring,” he said.

Karl Idsvoog has a big stick up his butt.

This stuff is funny as hell. I think more trials should be presented like this. Can you imagine the Blago trial’s infamous F-ing Golden line being delivered by a sock puppet? You just can’t pay enough for entertainment like that.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXlnZC--pbI&w=560&h=315]

Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Friday morning around 9:10!



About Bill McCormick

I'm just this guy who's survived the entertainment industry.