Friday, November 29, 2013

The Matrix, Terminator, and the Copyright Judgment That Doesn't Exist

"Black Author Wins Copyright Case for Matrix." 

"If it's on the Internet, it must be true"*
That recent blog post, re-posted to Facebook by one of my friends, caught my attention.  And a Google search shows that the story has been spreading through the blogosphere like wildfire.

You can see why.  The post noted that Sophia Stewart, a black writer now living in Salt Lake City, won a HUGE judgment against Warner Brothers, Joel Silver and the Wachoski Brothers, producers of the uber-successful (and profitable) Matrix, and sequels Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions.

And there's more.

It seems the judgment also included Terminator, the Arnold Schwatzeneger blockbuster from the 1980s.

Billions of dollars in profits.  All of it stolen from Ms. Stewart's script for The Third Eye. And a judgment for her reaching into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Only it's not true!

Before re-posting the judgment information, I did a little independent research. There is no finding that The Matrix or Terminator were stolen from Ms. Stewart's 1980s script.  There is no judgment of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Yes, Ms. Stewart filed a lawsuit in 2003.  But despite her reported claims that the media hasn't been publicizing her suit because Time Warner owns all major media outlets, the actual fact is that the court ruled against her.

She lost the case and there is no judgment.  See Stewart v. Wachowski, 574 F.Supp.2d 1074 (C.D. Cal. 2005).  Click HERE for the ruling of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California finding that Ms. Stewart was not the author of either The Matrix or Terminator, and that neither work is derivative of her Third Eye script.  For more details, click HERE to view Time Magazine's article debunking this Internet myth.  And if you think that Time is just trying to cover up for its corporate owner, click HERE for the myth-busting report of

But that hasn't stopped the blogs from spreading the story.

The lesson in this case for bloggers and other writers: do your research.  Don't just pass on what you see someplace without checking it out.  Bloggers hungry for material seem to be most prone to this, but writers of every ilk are guilty.

So be sure. As carpenters would say: "Measure twice and cut once."  Don't add to the false stories that permeate Social Media and the Internet.

Be a writer, not a gossip.  Check it out. 

*photo credit: <a href="">( kurtz )</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Monday, November 4, 2013

Boobies Bracelet and First Amendment: Case Headed to Supreme Court?

I {heart} Boobies.

I'm sure you've seen those colorful rubber bracelets.  They are used to express support for
Breast Cancer Awareness and the website.

Cute.  Harmless.  They may induce a titter (no pun intended).  But they certainly not lewd and obscene.

Unless you're a student in the Easton Area School District about 60 miles north of Philadelphia. 

In 2010,  the school district banned wearing of the bracelets.  When 12-year-old Kayla Martinez and 13-year-old Brianna Hawk, wore the bracelets to Easton Area Middle School, they were suspended.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania stepped up and went to bat for the girls in court.  The result?  Not surprisingly, the District Court held that the school overstepped its bounds and violated the girls' First Amendment rights.

This past August, the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the lower court decision.

You'd think that would be enough, wouldn't you.  But NOOOOOOOO!

The Easton Area School District is adament that it, not the courts, should determine whether the girls should be allowed to express the support for "the Boobies."  So the School Board, by 7-1 vote, decided to spend local taxpayers money to file an appeal to the United States Supreme Court.  This is despite: (1) First Amendment lawyers say the appeal is a waste of money; and (2) of 10,000 petitions for certiorari filed each year with the Supreme Court, the Court chooses to hear no more than 100.

Tens of thousands of dollars -- all trying to keep students from referencing "boobies".

Maybe if they don't let students wear the bracelets, those teenage boys won't notice the changes in their female classmates.

But if I recall my junior high days, my teachers would have been delighted if the students used the term "boobies" rather than the term that was most commonly used.

The Easton Area School District, located about 60 miles north of Philadelphia, said several years ago that the bracelets, distributed by the Keep A Breast Foundation of Carlsbad, California, were lewd and banned students from wearing them.
Kayla Martinez, then 12, and Brianna Hawk, then 13, defied the ban and wore the bracelets to Easton Area Middle School in 2010. They were suspended.
The girls, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, then challenged the ban, and after making its way through lower courts, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the girls in August. The court said the district didn’t prove the bracelets were lewd or disruptive.