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The Media

11 Things About Spider-Man 432

An Anonymous Coward writes: "This has got to be the most inane, greedy thing I have heard of yet! The owners of the billboards on Times Square are suing Sony and those involved with the production of Spider-Man 'for digitally superimposing advertisements for other companies over their billboard space in the film.' Their argument: '[the ads] do not depict the area accurately.' Oh, and a guy in spider costume swinging from the buildings does? Give me a break!" That's one thing; read below for the other 10, if you can handle some movie spoilage. Update: 04/14 21:04 GMT by T : Oh, and a 12th thing: as reader marcsiry points out, that's "Spider-Man," not "Spiderman."

CheeseburgerBlue writes with his space-saving, 10-thought mini-review.

  1. "Worst opening titles sequence ever. Probably recycled out of un-used material from 'The Last Starfighter.' Truly IntelliVision-level graphics here.

  2. Peter hacks himself an awesome wannabe costume at first. This is good, because nobody is so well-rounded as to be ass-kickingly fierce, unswerving moral, academically gifted *and* a knock-down seamtress to boot. (It's unheard of, aside from that mama's boy show-off Clark Kent.)

  3. There is actually some credible character development. (Smacks own agape jaw in disbelief.) So much for the frickin' Batman franchise.

  4. We are treated to several exciting shots of M.J.'s heaving bosom through clinging wet fabric, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

  5. J. Jonas Jamieson: beautiful! This character absolutely could not have been done better. It's like a really angry Perry White mixed with Lou Grant, drunk.

  6. Nice casting. Not only is Peter's pal Harry the spitting image of his screen father (Dafoe), but he also makes a passable Anakin Skywalker. (I can't wait to see what kind of a Darth sombitch Harry turns into in the sequels.)

  7. Many agree that the animated Spidey flying around looks like crap in the TV spots. Luckily, in context, it works. I found that what the C.G. webslinger lacks in verisimilitude is made up for in choreography -- the sequences of Spidey swinging through Manhattan and thrilling and fun.

  8. I've always counted on Spiderman to deliver some quality wise-cracks, in stark contrast to Superman's squarejawed mumbling about truth and justice. I also expect Peter Parker to have a dark side that is less cheese-gothic than Batman's silhouetted form baying at the moon. This movie delivers -- Spidey's character is perfectly true to form.

  9. Great pacing. It's more than half-way through the movie before Peter really becomes Spiderman. His gradual transition to superherohood is convincing, and helps sell Peter as a real guy along the way.

  10. Despite the fact the Green Goblin essentially kicks his own ass in this movie, he does duke it out pretty cool with Spidey a few times first. (The best part is when the angry New Yorkers pelt him with trash for messin' with their friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.)"
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11 Things About Spider-Man

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  • by Splat ( 9175 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @04:09PM (#3339835)
    "M.J." "clingy" "wet" "shirts"

    Anyone else have a sudden renewed interest in seeing this film now ...
  • by oops ( 41598 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @04:11PM (#3339845) Homepage
    Is it ? If these companies have paid for advertising space in Times Sq., they must be factoring in the fact that Times Sq. is a well known location, and likely to feature in films/TV etc. Consequently a percentage of the ad cost would reflect this ?
    • If in the movie Spider-man they rendered the whole city would then also be required to program the computers in with their competitors ads? I think they are in their right to remove the ads. if Samsung wants product placement they can go right ahead and pay Sony for it.

    • by stevens ( 84346 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @04:21PM (#3339890) Homepage


      Is it ? If these companies have paid for advertising space in Times Sq., they must be factoring in the fact that Times Sq. is a well known location, and likely to feature in films/TV etc. Consequently a percentage of the ad cost would reflect this ?

      It's totally unreasonable. While they might have paid someone more for the ability to put adverts in Times Square because they thought they'd free ride in movies &c., they sure as hell didn't contract with the Spidey movie to reproduce the ads.

      The spidey movie made no contracts or promises to display the ads, so why should they? The billboard owners want something for nothing.

      From the article: '"Sherwood has not authorized defendants or anyone to distort the appearance" of the area' [...]

      Since when does a person taking a picture of something not allowed to futz with the image? Especially in the movies, where the whole point of taking the picture is to make the audience believe that something which isn't real actually happened.

      This kind of litigiousness makes me fume.

      • so why should they?

        Because they filmed in Times Square. What if you owned a piece of property in which a movie is going to be filmed? You might want to put up some ads. Then if some film came around and changed them, you would probably be pretty ticked, along with whatever company set up the ad.

        I do, however think that it is mainly the fault of the owners; they didn't think to force Sony to leave t he ads in
        • Fine. Be ticked. Even, get pissed. Cry. Jump up and down. It'll do no good. Look at the money Coke and Pepsi have payed for product placements in movies; this advertising doesn't come for free. There is no legal basis for this lawsuit and the lawyers who filed it on behalf of the billboard owners could get into trouble for this.

          In most states, frivolous lawsuits are against the law. As is barratry.
      • by NaturePhotog ( 317732 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @05:10PM (#3340084) Homepage

        IANAL either, but I am a still photographer. I don't know if the same laws apply to motion picture filming, but generally you need a property release when photographing private property. It's not black-and-white (no pun intended), because if you photograph something like the New York or San Francisco skyline which is full of private property, you don't need a release. See more information on releases [alamy.com]. Note this is referring to commercial photography, not vacation shots.

        I'm not sure what a judge would rule, but I would hazard a guess that if the buildings and signs in question are 'part of the scene', it would be OK, but if they took a Samsung building and morphed it into Sony HQ and made it a key part of the film, it wouldn't.

        Regardless, I can understand Samsung, et al, being a little miffed, but I also find the idea of taking this to court absurd. I guess I wouldn't make a very good lawyer...

        • by mcc ( 14761 ) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Sunday April 14, 2002 @06:07PM (#3340352) Homepage
          I very unfortunately cannot remember the details, but:

          There was a book i read once that was a biography of Walt Disney. It had a story in it describing how one of the early made-for-tv Disney productions had been sponsored by Ford, and Ford, upon seeing the production, demanded that Disney edit out the newly-built Chrysler Building from the shots of the New York skyline. Disney complied.

          This was sometime in the 50s.

          I have spent the last 20 minutes or so scouring the web trying to find documentation of this, or at least figure out which disney movie/tv show exactly that this took place in, but unfortunately i can't seem to find it. (I'm not 100% sure that it was Ford that asked them to remove the tower, actually, but it was one of Chrysler's at-the-time direct competitors.)

          I don't know if this qualifies as a legal precedent of any sort, but it's at least interesting.
        • by El Camino SS ( 264212 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @06:20PM (#3340403)
          Two major reasons why this is crap:

          REASON NUMBER #1.
          I am a news videographer (and granted, that is a different designation than commercial photographers) but there is no need to sign a release form for me to shoot a building.
          But then again, my TV station, like all TV stations has an attorney on retainer for just such an occasion, when someone decides to tempt fate and the Bill of Rights.

          That is bullshit. It is a public place. Because there is no release needed then there is no cause to sue over a lack of release. That category falls under public and private view. By the way, any place that doesn't say "NO TRESSPASSING" can be considered public view, within reasonable doubt.

          I have punks and even regular people tell me constantly that they will "sue my ass to high heaven for invading their personal privacy." It usually involves their business shortchanging someone or they have done something horrible to others. So I quote me some law on 'em. (I then proceed to explain in tiny detail why they can waste their money on a First Amendment Violation. They usually will tell me that they are going to beat me and take my camera. I casually tell them that I am taping them, if they touch me it is battery and I will report them, camera theft is felony theft on the order of grand theft, and as a professional photographer my material is easily entered into evidence. And then say, "Now if you HADN'T COMMITTED A CRIME, well, I PROBABLY WOULDN'T HAVE TO BE HERE.")

          As a news photographer, I can shoot a camera inside a window showing you holding your dog hostage or whatever as long as a reasonable expectation of privacy is maintained. Reasonable privacy is really broad, at least for the news people.

          I dare say there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in Times Square. Probably less of an expectation than ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD. So asking permission to shoot advertising or exterior televisions by its nature is hilarious, due to its intent.

          REASON #2:

          Spider-Man is a work of fiction. Period. There is no requirement of any member of the film industry to maintain any continuity or realism whatsoever. That is totally a free speech issue. I am surprised that the MPAA hasn't "gone ape shit" on them yet. Even if it was a "documentary" they still don't have a leg to stand on. It is a private work. A private work that they can alter at will, without someone meddling with it.

          Never before has there ever been a rule that an artistic work (yes, many of you will argue that a big budget hollywood film is art) has any "must carry" rules to it. Good luck, assholes. You're going to need it. I personally would countersue immediately for "unnecessary usage" of the court system. Maybe there is an Anti-SLAPP out there that can help on this one?

          Besides, the blueprints of a building might be copy protected, but you are not going to be infringing to see it in the real freaking world, nor is anyone charging you to see it.

          I hope whoever thought this plan up dies a horrible, horrible death and goes straight to a fiery pit. When they get there, they have taxis back over him for eternity under a giant jumbotron that keeps showing "the best of" episodes of She's the Sherriff starring Suzanne Sommers.
          • What!!?
            If it was a "documentary" they still don't have a leg to stand on.
            Spider-Man isn't a documentary? What have I done with my life? All these years wasted following the chronicles of a fictional character, ohhhhh, the humanity!!!
          • I am a news videographer (and granted, that is a different designation than commercial photographers) but there is no need to sign a release form for me to shoot a building.

            This is precisely why it is different -- news vs. commerical. I could shoot all the pictures I want of private property (as long as I didn't trespass or otherwise break the law to do it), but as soon as I want to sell one of those pictures for anything besides news (e.g., to sell a product or as fine art to hang on a wall), a release is needed.

            And as noted in my post, I agree that taking this to court is absurd.

      • Building owners/architects have sued and won for copyright infringement/trademark dilution when their buildings were used in a movie without their permission. Times Square light-boards are pretty distinctive, and a judge might well side with the owners on the above grounds.

    • Right. And because one party pays another a competitive price influenced by a perception of likely reactions on the part of a third party, the third party is legally obligated to oblige?
    • Are you insane? This is just a silly cash grab at something that is FICTIONAL! What the hell - these people (and their slimy lawyers) need to get a life! You cannot make other people advertise for you. Now, if the producers of the movie had paid for the right to shoot that location, and specifically agreed not to digitally alter any content, then this would be a passably arguably point. As it, it's nothing shy of a mindless money-grubbing cheap shot!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      they must be factoring in the fact that Times Sq. is a well known location, and likely to feature in films/TV etc. Consequently a percentage of the ad cost would reflect this

      Sure, and I paid some joker $50 for the Brooklyn Bridge. I don't understand why the mayor doesn't recognize my property rights.

    • So what? The advertisers can hope for whatever they want but it's a public space and they have absolutely no expectation of control of their image.
    • Of course if this was a p0rn movie they'd be suing for being left IN the shot.

      I hope Sony gets fees when this gets dismissed ...

      • Even if it wasn't porn, I imagine that Sony could be sued for leaving the billboards *in*, as that would be a copyright violation (the billboards are copywrited, after all.)

        At least such a suit would have *some* merit -- unlike the current suit.

    • >>If these companies have paid for advertising space in Times Sq., they must be factoring in the fact that Times Sq. is a well known location, and likely to feature in films/TV etc.

      True. They may have assumed that. But the film-makers can't really stop them from making stupid assumptions can they?

    • by Stonehand ( 71085 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @04:33PM (#3339934) Homepage
      Well, they may have thought so, and it's quite reasonable for them to be unhappy -- but unless Sony and partners were somehow legally obligated to NOT alter the scenery in such a way, then what leg would they have to stand on? There's no obligation to be kind...

      Now, they COULD have had such an agreement, depending on what deal NYC has with them. It's conceivable that any contract that granted filming rights would also insist that the film portray NYC "accurately" -- as much as could be done while having Spidey and company run around -- NYC might not welcome filming which portrays all its citizens as homicidal meth-addled maniacs, for instance. I'm merely speculating that NYC might impose such restrictions in the name of good PR for NYC. If there is such a clause, then it may possibly be vague enough that the plaintiffs feel they have a chance...

      The other bit is that really, is Sony under any non-contractual obligation to show a truthful representation of NYC in a work of fiction. It's not exactly as if this were a news broadcast, in which it would be distasteful for the broadcaster to apply editing (although, if memory serves, it does happen; don't certain sports events have digitally imposed "virtual" advertising?). They're not making claims about NYC, or the building's owners, or at least that's what Sony could argue.
    • Not unreasonable? This movie is fictional, based on a fictional universe, their creative license should let them do whatever the hell they want in the story/images/whatever. They are not upset about Times Square being misrepresented like they say, it's all about there money, and while I might be a capitalist, I do see that artists (loosely used) should be allowed their creative license even if they sell it out to companies. Would these people have been upset if they had depicted Times Square without any advertisements? Probably not.
    • Insert usual "I am not a lawyer" disclaimer

      Getting your billboard on TV and in the movies is known as being an "incidental beneficiary". It means that you benefit from something even though the [something] wasn't designed or intended to benefit you. Of course, entire business models are built being an incidental beneficiary (just count the restaraunts and gas stations near interstate exits), but it doesn't give you a right to the benefit (just ask the restaraunts in Christiansburg, VA where the interstate exits were redesigned). Incidental benefits are an old source of political and legal battle, so I wouldn't be surpised if there's a lot of political fallout from this, but I still think they'll lose the court case.

  • Remember the TV series 'Spiderman and his Amazing Friends'? It had three sidekicks for Spiderman IIRC: Ice-Man (ice), Fire-Start (fire) and one other I can't remember. I thought it was great at the time, but I don't think it's considered to be canon. Anyone know more about this?
    • Wasn't it Herbie the Robot or the Wonder Twins or Dynomutt or something? I seem to recall it was the goofy, cartoony, comic relief that all cartoon superheroes of that era invariably had.

      It was about as much canon as the Star Wars Christmas Special.

      Now, what I'd love to see again is the Spiderman cartoon series from the late 60's or early 70's with the really moody impressionist background art and awesome brass-heavy score.

      C'mon, everyone knows the theme song:

      Spiderman! Spiderman!
      Does whatever a spider can...

    • It was Firestar, not Fire-Start.

      And no, it wasn't `canon'. Firestar didn't even seem to exist (in the Marvel comic world) until this cartoon was created. (Iceman, of course, was an X-man.)

      It was entertaining, though. There's a new Spiderman cartoon out there, where he's on some other planet or something. Not nearly as entertaining.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 14, 2002 @04:13PM (#3339852)
    Their argument: '[the ads] do not depict the area accurately.'
    Just once I'd like to see a judge issue a one-sentence judgement, along the lines of "Get the fuck outta here".
    • by bemis ( 29806 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @04:41PM (#3339978) Homepage
      Just once I'd like to see a judge issue a one-sentence judgement, along the lines of "Get the fuck outta here".

      check this link out [houstonpress.com]

      not exactly "get the fuck outta here", but close enough to be amusing :)


      -This calls for a particularly subtle blend of psychology and extreme violence. - Vyvyan, The Young Ones
    • by Kaiwen ( 123401 )
      Almost the same:

      A decade or so ago the city council of Madison, Wisconsin, at the behest of a certain local group of anti-religious fanatics, began playing church-state watchdog over other cities in the state. Famously, it sent a letter to the city of LaCrosse imperiously demanding the removal of a certain creche which it had been wont to allow private groups to erect on public property every year.

      The city of LaCrosse assembled its lawyers and drafted a two-word reply to the Madison city council, the first word of which has still not been uttered on NYPD, Blue. In response, the Madison city council hauled LaCrosse into court. The judge's remarks were equally vivid and succinct as it tossed Madison out on its ear.

      For an encore, the next year the Madison city council outlawed six-pointed snowflakes. But that's a different story.

  • Pulled WTC Trailer (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hoegg ( 132716 )
    I found the pulled WTC trailer on <insert favorite file-sharing program here> this morning, and have no idea why they pulled it. It shows the Towers in all their glory, and also waits until at least 3/4 of the way through before you even know what movie its for. Should have left it on the market.
    • They pulled it because the Towers represented a part of the plot, where bad guys were trying to blow up the building (something along those lines, bad guys, bombs, and the towers).
      I guess they thought that would be a "bad idea" after all that crap that happened...

      So, they removed it.
      • Actually, it was high-class (if that's not a misnomer) bank robbers, well, robbing a bank . . . then escaping from the roof via helicoptor, which Spidey subsequently snares and reals in, leaving it suspended in a web between the Trade Towers. In my opinion, a very cool shot that should have been left in (scene was shot before 9/11). I mean, it's not like Microsoft is going to hold up the release of the new Flight Simulator just to delete the Towers from . . . OH! I had found the original trailer somewhere (not Sony's site), but I can't seem to find the link.
        • then escaping from the roof via helicoptor, which Spidey subsequently snares and reals in, leaving it suspended in a web between the Trade Towers. In my opinion, a very cool shot that should have been left in (scene was shot before 9/11)

          Hopefully they will put it on the DVD as an extra. I'm not American, so I do not know how such a thing would be received by the public now that we're 6 months (by the time of the DVD release over a year) past 9/11. Personally I would love to see such footage and I think it would actually tribute the WTC.

          But I can understand how it upsets many people as well and would be deemed inappropriate to be included.
    • From drudge:

      "DRUDGE: Sony keeps shot of NYC Twin Towers in upcoming 'SPIDER-MAN' film.... World Trade buildings shown in reflection of Spider-Man's eyes, studio sources reveal.... Developing... "

      link [drudgereport.com]
  • Editorialising (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 14, 2002 @04:14PM (#3339859)
    If the suit goes forward, a judge will likely decide whether makers of a movie about a fictional character have the right to place him in fictional surroundings as well.

    Holy common sense, batman! Did we just actually see news.com engaging in *stating the obvious*?

    That's a nice shift, usually these people are so terrified of seeming to include editorializing that an ironic, clippy comment like that would be cut right out..

    Oh well.
  • Waste of breath (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lothix ( 572891 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @04:16PM (#3339864)
    Ads have been edited into movies for a while now but in this case the real question is, "Will movies have to pay for every piece of private property put on film?" Could I be possibly sued of taking a picture of a city, applying filters to it and putting it on the web? Sounds ridiculous!
  • by EddydaSquige ( 552178 ) <jmb.gocougs@wsu@edu> on Sunday April 14, 2002 @04:19PM (#3339878) Homepage
    I know the guy who was the production manager for most of the NY production crew, he had told me (after I asked what kind of a pain in the ass shooting in TS is) that most of the TS stuff was shot on a set in LA. Most of what wasn't on the set was done digitally. So if the TS that we see in the movie isn't the real TS, then what claim do advertisers have to claims of authenticity?
  • by MikeKD ( 549924 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @04:19PM (#3339880) Homepage
    From the UK's Guardian [guardian.co.uk]: A lawsuit filed in Manhattan accuses Columbia Pictures, producers of the new Spiderman movie, of digitally manipulating shots of Times Square to block out an advert for Samsung, arch-rivals of Sony, which owns Columbia. So, this seems more like Columbia censoring daddy's rivals than just removing an ad because the director didn't like it's artistic qualities. Now the question of whether the removal is warranted or ethical I will leave to the philosopher and lawyers; I'm just an engineer.
    • "Now the question of whether the removal is warranted or ethical I will leave to the philosopher and lawyers; I'm just an engineer."

      Here in Portland, we recently had a movie filmed where they took one of the bridges and added a train to it. I haven't seen the movie yet, but that bridge is pretty identifable up close. I can imagine somebody seeing that movie, visiting Portland, finding that bridge, and saying "Hey? Where's the train?"

      Anybody gonna sue them for that? I doubt it. The entire reasoning behind this is to gain free ad-space. Samsung never paid for advertising space in the movie, therefore they have no business worrying about it.

      Here's another factor to chew on: Is the movie really clear about when it takes place? If it's a 'not too distant future...' movie, then how do we know their ad will always be up? The director could claim that he's trying to cover all his bases.

      Frankly, I find this amusing. It could set a bad precedent though.

      • Samsung never paid for advertising space in the movie, therefore they have no business worrying about it.

        And, in fact, Samsung isn't worrying about it. The billboard company is the one bringing the suit.

        I hope I know what would happen if Samsung tried to sue Sony over not putting Samsung ads in a movie. But who knows, the world's getting crazier all the time.
  • by bje2 ( 533276 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @04:20PM (#3339884)
    We really need some good nuisance lawsuit laws so that defendants don't have their money wasted and the courts don't have their time wasted...this kind of thing is a joke...people are too quick to sue on another anymore, and all they have is visions of dollar signs dancing in their eyes...there needs to be sticter penalties, if perhaps the judge decides that the plaintiff is guilty of a nuisance lawsuits...it would make people think twice before bringing idiotic things like this to the courts...

    also, i can't wait to see Kirsten Dunst in the wet t-shirt either...
  • by marcsiry ( 38594 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @04:21PM (#3339892) Homepage
    It's "Spider-Man."

    Spider-dash-Capital M-Man.

    I used to be an assistant editor at Marvel Comics, and if you let "Spiderman" get into print, you would fear for your job. Something about diluting the trademark...
  • Time dependency? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuodEratDemonstratum ( 569501 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @04:23PM (#3339897) Homepage
    What would happen if they had computer generated Times Square instead of filming it live.

    What ads would they have to place there?
    • displayed at the time the location was being written.?
    • The ones displayed when it was being rendered?
    • When the file was being shown?
    • etc.

    A photograph or film has a longer lifetime than an advertisment ... the owners of the billboards cannot expect the film to always accurately represent the location, so taking to the argument further, why should they expect it to ever accurately represent the location?
  • by bje2 ( 533276 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @04:25PM (#3339904)
    had they left the original advertising in the movie, then the people would probably be suing the movie studio claiming that they used their advertising & trademarks without their permission...

    you just can't win...
    • Actually I bet what happened was there was a bidding war - or at least the movie producers wanted some cizash- over the ad space and whoever is suing them lost the bid. Which is, of course, ridiculous. it is a work of FICTION! FICTION! Ergo - they can do whatever they want to the ads.
  • First we have Rio De Jenero say that a Simpson's episode doesn't accurately portray the city (It's not a jungle infested with rats and monkeys and that protrayal hurt Rio's feelings), Now it's happening in the US. Has anyone heard of fiction? Huh, huh?
    • Personally, I think that if a film/tv show takes place in a real location (i.e. not someplace like Gotham City or Metropolis) the producers should at least have the common decency of portraying the location accurately.
      • Personally, I think that if a film/tv show takes place in a real location (i.e. not someplace like Gotham City or Metropolis) the producers should at least have the common decency of portraying the location accurately.

        But, for comedy shows (the Simpson's, in this case) is it not unreasonable to stretch the accurate portrayal for comedic effect? Not to mention that Rio does, in fact, have monkeys [animalinfo.org] (and monkeys have been known to attack [mainichi.co.jp]), a high crime rate(*), and a lot of orphan [cnn.com] children beggars(*). So, did the Simpson's really portray the city inaccurately? Any more inaccurately than a movie set in NYC where a guy gets mugged?

        And, for non comedic works, is removing/changing ad space not depicting the location accurately? I could understand the owner's of Times Square being upset if Columbia had changed all the ads to porn ads...but, c'mon. This is laughable.

        (*)Quoted from Yahoo! Travel [yahoo.com]:

        Unfortunately it's not all sweetness in exuberant Rio. Even tourists will notice the favelas (shantytowns) that blanket the hillsides, providing meager comfort to more than a third of the city's population. Rio's poor lack education and medical care; drug abuse and violence litter the streets; and police corruption is more common than not. With chronic poverty and a stubbornly high crime rate, Rio is not unlike other high-density global centers. The difference is that the extremes in Rio can be difficult to ignore.
    • "First we have Rio De Jenero say that a Simpson's episode doesn't accurately portray the city..."

      Rio sort of has a point. The part about the monkeys isn't as disturbing as the part where Homer was kidnapped and held for ransom just for being an american. In these days of keeping an eye open for terrorism, nobody wants to go anywhere where it is a possiblity that'll happen to them. Look at what happened to Pearl, for example.

      Brazil's economy is really tough right now, and they're putting lots of money into getting tourists to visit. It doesn't help when an uber-popular TV show basically says that Brazil is no place to visit.

      I don't fully agree with them on this topic, but I do sympathize. The Simpsons could have left them alone. I've been to Brazil, and I didn't find that episode all that amusing. Not because I was offended, but just because it was a dull episode. The Australia one, however, cracked me up.
  • OK... let's suppose the judge who hears this one (assuming, of course, they don't settle for a laughably small sum to go with all the free publicity they've milked this one for) is on crack, and sides with the plaintiff.

    what would've been established is that the author of a creative work wouldn't have the right to depict a person/place/thing that's somewhat like a something in the real world (note all those disclaimers at the end of the credits of every movie "blah blah blah this work doesn't depict any person blah blah blah").

    so, if this suit holds, a movie maker won't be able to depict any site without permission, and, likely, won't be able to get permission without some serious licensing fees.

    won't happen. the consequences are untenable for any creative activity...

  • Maybe I've been watching too much Heath Ledger/Julia Stiles, but I misread that title the first time through...
  • by not_cub ( 133206 ) <slashdot-replies@nOSPam.edparcell.com> on Sunday April 14, 2002 @04:46PM (#3339997) Homepage
    ... I am being sued by advertisers for tippexing my eyeballs in the space normally occupied by banner ads in slashdot.


  • If the suit goes forward, a judge will likely decide whether makers of a movie about a fictional character have the right to place him in fictional surroundings as well.

    I sure hope so. I'm not sure Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King: Sauron takes Manhattan. would have the same impact.

    I think the opposite lawsuit would stand just as good a chance of winning. If they didn't change the billboards, and Samsung or NBC decided they didn't want to be associated with a guy in spider suit (or, let's say this wasn't something innocuous like Spiderman, but E.G. a porn movie) then they could just as easily sue over having their ads in the movie. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    Of course, if they hadn't changed the ads but simply removed the billboards, this might never have come up. But who could imagine a movie without advertising? It's ludicrous!

  • Until the media firms stop trying to outlaw general purpose computer hardware and software, Slashdot readers should boycott all movies and merchandised music. See a play or listen to a live local band instead -- it's a richer experience anyway.
  • Why Not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @05:04PM (#3340071) Homepage
    The movie is using Times Square as a prop in the movie. Instead of the fictional Gotham City's town square, we get the real New York City landmark, Times Square, being presented in the movie as "present day". A tangible, real thing. Nothing of fantasy.

    SONY should be allowed to disagree with content portrayed on their property. Its their property and the message presented on it reflects upon them. Think of parallels.

    My made-up example?

    What about a Julia Roberts, tear jerking movie that pits her as a courageous pro-choice activist against an evil cabal of extreme right-wing, slack jawed, anti-choice, church going, white men. As a part of the movie, Roberts attends a church of open minded, pro-choice parishioners...most likely Lutherans. Since the civil rights crusading producer wants to really stick it to the closed minded, white men and their abused, subservient wives in our society and make a real deep, societal impact on the minds of uniformed Americans, he CGIs the church sign of a real, mean, anti-choice, anti-gay, born-again Christian church in Mississippi, to be this warm, fuzzy, cuddly, pro-choice, Julia Roberts kind of church with a feminine Reverend. So all establishment shots of the Julia Roberts kind of church in the movie feature this real anti-choice church but with the Hollywood magic sign. The church was filmed on the road legally. It is a landmark in the town as most churches are. Most of the viewers of the film would never know what was on the sign before seeing the movie as they do not live near the sign, but the audience local to the landmark would. The sign is nothing more than the advertising of religious faith -- a somewhat commercial activity, as money is exchanged between parishioner and church and visa-versa from time to time.

    Think the church would have a right to complain by having their sign's content in the blockbuster Julia Roberts film being altered to reflect a message with which they disagree? I would think so. And you are more likely to know about the advertising in Times Square than would you this church in Mississippi. Hate to stick up for a multinational corporation but they do have a right to have messages on their property correctly reflect their desires. It is not up to you and I to decide for SONY what their message is.

    Offtopic: Anyone hear that Standard Oil of New York conspiracy before?

    Disclaimer: I live in NYC and I don't like Julia Roberts tear jerking movies but I am forced to watch them. I will back any legislation on Digital Rights Management that contains a rider that will make Oxygen, Lifetime, and Women's Entertainment (We) illegal to broadcast within the United States.

    • Re:Why Not? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcc ( 14761 ) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Sunday April 14, 2002 @05:40PM (#3340231) Homepage
      I think this is the least coherent thing i've ever read on slashdot. I have no idea what you are trying to say, but i'm going to attempt to respond to what vaguely seems to be your point:

      Spider-man is something called "art". They aren't selling you the property of times square. They are selling you pictures of it, with a fictional story and some sounds overlaid.

      The U.S. legal system has an idea built in called "freedom of expression". This implies that if you are creating a piece of art, you have a right to do anything in it that you like that corresponds to promoting your artistic vision, and that no man or government has the right to restrict that because freedom of speech and expression is a basic, universal, human right.


      There is the question of slander-- i.e., if you took a public figure of some sort, which would include a church of some sort, and represented them publicly in a light they disapprove of, then they could go after you for slander. You could say that this is an exception to the "there should be no legal limits on art" rule. However, this only applies when you step outside the realm of artistic expression and into journalism-- i.e., when you are actively stating that the portrayal of things that you are offering in your product is *true*, as opposed to simply offering an artistic portrayal of the universe. The new york times has an obligation to not print things like "Newt Gingrinch is an Alien" when they have no proof of such. The makers of the movie "Men in black" are under no such obligation. I think it's pretty safe to say no one could be misled to believe that the movie "Spider-man" is meant to be an accurate portrayal of New York City.

      There's also the question of copyright and image reuse-- i.e., do you have the legal right to use someone/something's image if you can consider the image you are reusing an artistic product that someone else "owns". I would say that that doesn't apply here becuase the image of Times Square is just a part of our culture, and has become something that the owners of the physical property Times Square no longer have control over.

      Would you imply that someone doing an impressionist, blurry painting of times square has a legal obligation to preseve the clarity of the advertisements there?

      You'd probably argue that that example is different, because in that case, the altering of the nature of the buildings and advertisements is required by the nature of the artistic decisions made by the painter; whereas in the case of Spider-man, the advertisements were altered out of sheer greed.

      That argument would be invalid for one simple reason: no matter what the law says currently, neither the government nor the courts have the right to determine what is a valid artistic decision and what is greed. That is simply not their business; the supreme court has said again and again that the government has no right to discriminate a legal difference between "good art" and "bad art"; there is only the question "is it art", and if so, you have to treat it legally in a manner consistent with the way you treat all other art..
  • According to the Uniform Commercial Code [cornell.edu] - I forget which part - a third party beneficiary is not entitled to pretty much anything.

    An analogy that my professor used was if a municipality is paving an off-ramp from a highway, and somebody decides to build a restaurant at the end of it. If, for some reason, the off-ramp is canceled, the restaurant owner can't win any damages.

    On a more Spider-Man related note, I've been collecting these comics since I was about 12 years old. At first, I wasn't sure that Tobey Maguire would be able to pull off a convincing Peter Parker. Anyone see the movie and have an opinion on this?

  • Hmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @05:17PM (#3340120) Homepage
    If I create a digital version of Times Square in a modeler, am I required to include the billboards?
  • seamtress? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by autopr0n ( 534291 )
    academically gifted *and* a knock-down seamtress to boot

    Shouldn't that be 'taylor' or something? I mean, 'seamstress' isn't really a term you'd use for a guy.
  • Hello? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CaseStudy ( 119864 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @05:36PM (#3340205) Homepage
    Likelihood of confusion, anyone? (Pretty much the basis for traditional trademark law.) If they're putting other companies' ads on identifiable property in such a way as to imply that there's a non-fictional relationship between the companies (which I'd probably make if I didn't live in NYC, the shot was supposed to be of Times Square, and there was no in-story reason why the ads should be different), you might run into trouble.

    And knock it off with the slippery-slope legal arguments, people; they only make you look like idiots.
  • by Edmund Blackadder ( 559735 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @07:17PM (#3340647)
    It is getting really annoying when movies do their own add placement. If i pay $10.00 for a movie i do not want to see adds.

    Of course there may be things that look like adds in the movie, but as long as they are not payed for it is ok.

    To put it more clearly i think movies should represent either reality or the unobstructed vision of the makers, and not advertising agreements.

    So i guess in the times square case it is ok to keep the original adds because they represent reality.

    You can say my rule is arbitrary: "whats the diff between an nbc add and a usa today add?" Well there is a difference, because when some one pays for an add they usually put conditions on how it will be shown in the movie and those conditions, usually having to do with adds being clearly shown close to the main heroine's tits or something silly like that, make movies suck.

    • by kubrick ( 27291 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @08:27PM (#3340898)
      It is getting really annoying when movies do their own add placement. If i pay $10.00 for a movie i do not want to see adds.

      If you don't want to see advertisements in movies, then don't see the sorts of movies that have ads scattered through them like this.

      There are a number of directors and creative teams who make movies where commercial decisions do not totally dominate the content of the film...

      e.g. in Pulp Fiction Tarantino invented 'Red Apple' cigarettes, not wanting to give screen time to any pre-existing brand.
  • Spider-Man (Score:4, Funny)

    by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Sunday April 14, 2002 @09:24PM (#3341070) Journal

    Are you sure you don't mean Spider-Person? Or perhaps Spider-American or Arachno-American. Then of course there are those who believe it should be GNU/Spider.

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...