News Articles

BC Beat

8/10/2007 08:00:00 PM Eastern

With John Eggerton, Sarah Outhwaite, Alex Weprin and Anne Becker

For more BC Beat, Go to www.bcbeat.com

Microsoft Calls Copyright Kettle Black

Microsoft was among the computer companies that complained loudly to the Federal Trade Commission two weeks ago that copyright warnings on movies and TV programs are deceptive and misleading. But the software giant might want to fortify its own glass house before pitching stones over copyright warnings.

Studios and computer companies, of course, have waged a years-long battle over copyright, with studios advocating stern warnings to prevent digital piracy and computer and electronics companies championing “fair use” copying and distribution of content.

Along with Google, Yahoo! and others in the Computer & Communication Industry Association (CCIA), Microsoft argued that the familiar FBI warnings before DVDs and MLB and NFL broadcasts not only make consumers think that unauthorized use is illegal but also fail to spell out fair use exceptions.

But if you click on “About Microsoft Office Outlook” in the e-mail program's “Help” menu, you'll find a similar warning that “Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this program…may result in severe civil and criminal penalties, and will be prosecuted under the maximum extent possible under the law.”

No mention of the fair use doctrine, which allows a textbook publisher like Harcourt—one of those cited in the complaint to the FTC (and, full disclosure, a soon-to-be ex-division of B&C
parent Reed Elsevier)—to use a screen grab of an Outlook inbox as a graphic in an educational presentation.

Ed Black, who heads the CCIA, had no comment on the apparent “do as I say, not as I do” disconnect.

It's So Easy Being Green

On the heels of MTV's announcement that the 20th season of The Real World will be going green, and with the launch of Discovery's Planet Green channel on the horizon, two more shows are joining the race to rake in dollars from the growing green-ad market.

This time it's the makeover format that is donning the vestments of verdant virtue. Actual Reality, the producers of Flip That House and 30 Days, is on the prowl for people looking to do a full-blown eco-makeover for Green That House.

Meanwhile, a mysterious casting call on Craig's List asks, “Are you enthusiastic for all things 'green'?” According to the notice, an unnamed production company is looking for “strong, opinionated people” who can “tell others that there [sic] home 'makeover' sucks” to host a new “green” reality series.

Don't get us wrong—we're all big fans of ozone, clean air and bio-diversity. (This is, after all, the Green issue of the magazine.) But in the interest of programming diversity, we look forward to the inevitable eco-backlash and the casting calls for Project Strip Mine.

Rosie's Cup Selleth Out

Rosie O'Donnell may have left The View, but the comedian's tumultuous tenure on ABC's morning coffee klatch lives on—in ceramic, at least.

Apparently, viewers who are already nostalgic for O'Donnell's attacks on Donald Trump, Bush administration policy and fellow View panelist Elisabeth Hasselbeck have been logging on in droves to ABC's online store in hopes of snatching up a View mug with Rosie's mug on it.

The latest edition, depicting the View ladies riding surf boards, was “the best-selling mug that the show has ever offered and was even back-ordered for some time until production could catch up with demand,” said a spokeswoman last week.

Alas, it seems View panelist Joy Behar's recent on-air suggestion that the mug would soon be a collector's item provoked a run on the Rosie receptacle. After telling us the mug would be available while supplies last or until the next collectible mug is issued in conjunction with the September season premiere, the show's spokeswoman later learned that it had sold out early last week.

Perhaps the show will consider issuing a special edition of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots featuring O'Donnell and Hasselbeck's heads.

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