Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Sweet column item: Anti-Clinton YouTube ad aftershock. Chicago woman owns rights to "1984." Sends warning shot.


WASHINGTON -- The rights to George Orwell's novel 1984 -- the inspiration for an Apple computer ad pirated by a Barack Obama supporter who remodeled it into an attack on Hillary Rodham Clinton -- are owned by Gina Rosenblum, a West Rogers Park resident who is president of Rosenblum Productions Inc.

A reason Apple probably did not complain about the Orwellian spot appropriated by Philip de Vellis -- a Democratic political operative -- is that the company didn't have the right to use it in the first place. It ran only during the 1984 Super Bowl because Rosenblum sent a "cease-and-desist" letter to Apple. On Tuesday, she sent a warning shot.

Rosenblum attorney William R. Coulson -- whose wife is state Rep. Beth Coulson (R-Glenview) -- said they have not taken any legal action -- "yet" but are "monitoring" the situation, serving "notice to the world the Orwell novel is still under copyright."

the press release with more background...


CHICAGO, Illinois, March 27, 2007 – Rosenblum Productions, Inc., owners of the exclusive television and motion picture rights to the George Orwell novel "1984", said today that it is monitoring closely the controversy surrounding a political ad posted on You Tube that, according to one Chicago newspaper, is “a takeoff on George Orwell's ‘Big Brother’ 1984 theme used in an Apple ad.”

“The political ad copies a prior commercial infringement of our copyright,” said Gina Rosenblum, president of Rosenblum Productions Inc. “We recognize the legal issues inherent under the First Amendment and the copyright law as to political expression of opinion, but we want the world at large to know that we take our copyright ownership of one of the world's great novels very seriously.”

Rosenblum purchased rights to “1984” from the Orwell Estate and Sonia Orwell in the early 1980s and the Orwell novel is still under copyright, at least until the year 2044. The company has utilized these exclusive rights to produce a number of products based on the novel. “We produced Richard Berton's last film, “1984", which opened that year to great critical acclaim,” Gina Rosenblum said. “We also authorized a number of related products such as videos and soundtracks, and later released the film for television viewing and an "1984" Opera. We are in discussions with major Hollywood companies to make a new motion picture of the classic novel.”

“We are determined to protect the integrity of the Orwell novel and any derivative works,” Rosenblum emphasized. “When the Apple ‘Big Brother’ television commercial was aired during the 1984 Super Bowl telecast, we immediately objected to this unauthorized commercial use of the novel, and sent a ‘cease-and-desist’ letter both to Apple and to its ad agency. The commercial never aired on television again.”

In 2001 Rosenblum settled its Chicago federal court lawsuit against CBS Television and Viacom, Inc., for copyright and trademark infringement arising out of their ‘reality’ program entitled ‘Big Brother.’

William R. Coulson of the Chicago law firm of Gold and Coulson xxx xxxx is serving as legal adviser to Rosenblum Productions in this matter.



good news

thank you for infos

It's totally false that the Apple "1984" ad ran only once!

It ran only once on network TV.

It was shown many times in the 10 largest TV markets plus Boca
Raton, Florida.
Why Boca Raton?
That's where IBM had the HQ of its personal computer business & Apple wanted to annoy them.

This is one of those bizarre beliefs that somehow have gotten out there.

In addition, this woman has absolutely no claims against the maker of the Hillary/1984 parody!
Parody and satire are totally protected by the First Amendment!
All that needs to done is to read the US Supreme Court's ruling in the Hustler vs. Falwell case. The ruling was unanimous!

She also needs to learn how to spell as she misspelled Richard Burton's name in the press release!

I love this line from her lawyer: "yet" but are "monitoring" the situation, serving "notice to the world the Orwell novel is still under copyright."

Well read this one, lawyer Coulson: Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Procedure: "The signature of an attorney or party constitutes a certificate by the signer that the signer has read the pleading, motion, or other paper; that to the best of the signer's knowledge, information, and belief formed after reasonable inquiry it is well grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law, and that it is not interposed for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation... If a pleading, motion, or other paper is signed in violation of this rule, the court, upon motion or upon its own initiative, shall impose upon the person who signed it, a represented party, or both, an appropriate sanction, which may include an order to pay the other party or parties the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred because of the filing of the pleading, motion, or other paper, including a reasonable attorney's fee."

That means that if you sue the creator of the Hillary/1984 parody, you can be charged all expenses of the "defendant"! Because you're supposed to research and know about the Flynt decision!
And since the creator lives, works and created it in California, if you file in a California state court, he can sue you under California's anti-SLAPP law.

This is the link to the complete opinion:
Hustler Magazine and Larry C. Flynt, Petitioners v. Jerry Falwell No. 86-1278
February 24, 1988, Decided


While satire and parody are protected, the Hillary video was neither. Satire and parody have to do with making fun of the original content; the original content here is 1984.

This video is a possible parody of Ms. Clinton, but it's not making any satirical statement about the *novel*. It's just using elements of the novel to prod Ms. Clinton. There's a difference; had they made a parody of the 1984 film, then you would be accurate. But they didn't.

In re: Hustler v, Falwell: You'll notice that Falwell himself was parodied, and he was the petitioner. Ms. Clinton could be the subject of parody here, and then this case might apply.

But, since there was no parody of 1984 in this video -- only use of its content without satire directed at it -- then the case does not apply.

Quite honestly, the video's creator should have been more original. I'm kind of saddened that we're here talking about a ripoff of a 23-year-old ad.

Brian in Texas

Brian in Texas, you don't know parody from Shinola!
In Hustler vs. Falwell, the vehicle of the parody was a Campari ad.
Campari didn't sue, Falwell did.
In the Hillary parody, the vehicle is "1984".
Note: I wrote "parody" not "possible parody"!
Even bad parody, which this isn't, is protected!
Gina Rosenblum has no case, PERIOD!
No court is going to rule for her & go against a unanimous SCOTUS decision!

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets


Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on March 28, 2007 7:51 AM.

Tammy Duckworth, chief of Illinois Vet Affairs: Tells Senate panel wounded vets deserve care from private sector. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet column: Obama's gaffes start to pile up. is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.