Anna Kournikova Deleted by Memeright Trusted System

Dec. 6, 2067
JAKARTA–Local officials today confirmed that celebrity guru Anna Kournikova died on Wednesday from injuries sustained when a satellite designed to protect intellectual property rights attempted to ‘delete’ her. “Ms. Kournikova was apparently struck by a powerful, focused beam of microwaves, and died almost instantly,” noted Detective J. Sini of the Jakarta Police. “Our current understanding is that this beam issued from one of the MEMEye satellites and that it was an unfortunate accident. We offer our sympathy to her families and followers.”

The MEMEye system, activated only last year by international media industry group MPRIAA, is a network of Low Earth Orbit satellites designed to “police traffic in non-digital goods which infringe the memerights of our member artists, producers, and rights owners.” The individual satellites, in conjunction with MPRIAA computers, monitor all public activity within their field of view, searching for ‘knock-off’ products. When the system locates a potentially infringing object, it attempts to query a special chip embedded in protected products. If it receives an inadequate response, the satellite uses a “surgically focused beam” to “delete” the infringing object.

MPRIAA spokesman Ray Insult explains: “Knock-off and pirated products cost designers and artists billions in lost revenues each year. MEMEye protects artists from having their work stolen. Sure, I could still buy a knock-off Mickey, but, as soon as I take it out in public, thhhhht, it’s gone. That re-balances the market, giving legitimately licensed products a clear value edge over knock-offs.”

Kournikova, a member of MPRIAA, had registered to use the system to protect rights in her likeness, including its use in action figures, stuffed dolls, and animatronic facsimiles. “We’ve had quite a problem with people selling dolls and figurines that look like Anna without paying the licensing fee,” notes Kournikova’s agent Mercedes Tick. “[MPRIAA] assured us MEMEye was safe.”

“In the case of the protection of likeness rights, we take special measures to ensure the safety of our members, but we rely on their cooperation,” explains MPRIAA Head of Engineering Eric Themo. “Each member with likeness protection is injected with a subcutaneous chip that informs MEMEye that they are not an infringing likeness. The chip, in effect, gives them a license to use their own likeness, but, when we configure the chip, we depend on the member to give us information about what sort of license they need. I suspect that Ms. Kournikova’s license was not configured to permit her use of her likeness in the Asia/Pacific Zone. It would have been a simple matter for us to reconfigure her license for that Zone, if she’d only told us of her travel plans.”

Critics of MPRIAA and MEMEye have been quick to point to Kournikova’s death as a symptom of the excessive protections rights-holders enjoy under current laws. “Memeright law is so restrictive now that it permits rights-holders, with the help of a private industry group, to punish themselves for violating their own rights,” opines Open Meme Initiative founder Phil Pour. “If that doesn’t tell you how much lockjaw the law has imposed on the public domain, I don’t know what would.”

“We are aware of the criticisms,” responds MPRIAA’s Insult, “and in designing MEMEye we made a conscious choice to continue to permit use of infringing goods in exclusively private spaces. If a kid draws a picture of Mickey at home, and the folks put it up on the fridge, MEMEye won’t do anything about that. It doesn’t look into your home. It doesn’t look through the roofs of buildings. By limiting MEMEye in this way, we protect the legitimate private-use rights of meme users everywhere.”

Oprah Enters Public Domain, Fans Mourn

Oct. 28, 2075
CHICAGO–In a blow to billions of hopeful fans worldwide, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Oprah Winfrey has entered the public domain and is no longer entitled to continued existence as a protected trademark. The decision is the most recent development in Oprah’s decades-long legal struggle to maintain the corporation’s privity with its founder. “We’re down, but not out,” declared Oprah lead counsel David Boies shortly after the decision was announced. “We’ll continue to push for appropriate Congressional action on the issue, and we have papers under consideration at WIPO. This is not over.”

Though speculation remains concerning the broader implications of the Court’s ruling in the case, legal experts agree that the decision has killed Oprah. Harvard Law Professor Yasmine Yarble explains: “The fundamental problem is that corporations typically have perpetual existence, while people do not. Oprah the legal entity has outlived Oprah the physical entity. The managers and shareholders have an understandable interest in maintaining that Oprah is still legally alive. That’s what this case is about. That’s what these past twelve years of litigation have been about.”

Over a dozen or so years, and in over twenty litigations, Oprah has sought to maintain that its continued corporate existence perpetuates that of its founder. Until a binding arbitration resolved the matter last year against it, the company had maintained that the stipulation in Oprah’s bylaws that “each security, note, and debenture certificate issued by the Company” be embossed with “a security and authentication stamp” including a freeze-dried “cell of the Founder” was sufficient to establish privity between the company and the star, and to entitle the company to “the continued enjoyment of the legal rights and privileges” of the beloved mogul.

The company continues to argue that the widespread adoption of the “O Chromosome”–a genome supplement encapsulating each of Oprah’s SNiPs and distributed through lickable add-in cards in birthday issues Oprah’s popular magazine properties–constitutes a de facto perpetual “life” for Oprah as part of the genome of her fans and their descendants.[p]
Recently the company had pinned its hopes on the theory that her continuing value as a brand was sufficient to establish “life” for legal purposes, and had won a sympathetic hearing in Illinois probate courts and, on appeal, in the Illinois Supreme Court. The latest U. S. Supreme Court ruling, however, undermined that theory by refusing to recognize the company’s proprietary interests in her name, likeness, and associated trademarks. In a per curiam opinion, the Court announced that “‘oprah’ has, despite the apparent best efforts of appellant, become an ubiquitous and generic part of the language and has hence been constructively abandoned to public use.”

The consequences of the ruling for the company are many. Not only will the corporation lose its most important entertainment property, but it is also likely to face heady estate taxes as it struggles to recharacterize itself as a trustee of Oprah’s estate. The company will also face complex and contested probate proceedings, including a number of unconsolidated class-action claims by bearers of the “O Chromosome” that their genetic relation to the star entitles them to a slice of the estate.

The company, further, must “write down” the portion of its assets attributable to the Oprah brand, a move sure to decimate the company’s market capitalization. “Most of these celebrity corporations carry a huge amount of goodwill on the books,” explains Jupiter Analyst Amanda Freeh. “That goodwill represents the value of celebrity. It’s typically the firm’s chief asset. If you lose it, the market will come after you with a vengeance.”

Reaction outside the financial community was more positive, with votes of support and sympathy pouring into Oprah’s Chicago headquarters. Speaking at a candlelight vigil outside the headquarters, Geraldine Creak, Oprah CEO and author of ‘Awaken the Corporation Within,’ remembered Oprah fondly, and called for fans to “Buy and Hold the Oprah within” and to continue to pursue an “IPO of the Spirit.”

Ted Turner Vanishes in Quantum Superposition Accident

Nov. 13, 2041
ATLANTA–In what AOL Interactive researchers are calling a “freak accident,” AOL VP Emeritus and Turner Classic Montana governor Ted Turner vanished late yesterday while touring the company’s special research facilities. “It was like nothing I’ve ever seen,” exclaimed Chris Burutu, a witness and AOL technician. “Mr. Turner had sort of broken off from the group and was just sort of looking at some equipment and then, zip, he was gone. Just disappeared, into thin air. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself.”

At the time of his disappearance, Turner was being briefed on research developments at AOL that enable the company to “Interactivize” classic movies from its vast film library. “Imagine ‘Gone with the Wind’ if the South had won the war,” explained Turner himself at a gala launch event last week. “I know I do. What if Bogie and Bergman stayed together in the end? Or, what if those ferrets in ‘Beastmaster’ were frogs, or snakes? Our new interactive technology is going to let people answer those questions. The movies will adapt to your input. They’ll be what you want them to be.”

The technology that makes Turner’s Interactivization possible relies on the peculiarities of quantum computation and storage. Rather than engage in the expensive and time-consuming process of digitally simulating alternative versions of classic films, AOL instead runs each film through a Quantum Computational Superposition Codec that places each of the film’s bits in a state of quantum indeterminacy known as superposition. The encoded film is then stored in granules maintained near absolute zero and embedded in a super-insulating platter. When the consumer pushes play, the player decodes the bits, resolving the indeterminacies in a manner consistent with the input and preferences of the consumer.

“This is nothing less than the everlasting gobstopper of movie entertainment,” Turner declared to the AOL Press Corps at the launch event. “You can watch the movie again and again, and it will always be different, will always fit your mood.”

Early reviews of the technology are less sanguine: “There’s some real potential with this technology, but, at this point, it’s only for early adopters” opines Consumer Reports hardware reviewer Ted Kaz. “Because of the computational demands, the players are a bit on the pricey side, and the variability in the movies is still fairly limited. To decrease the workload on the decoders, the majority of elements in the film are still fixed. You can’t, for example, cast Barbara Stanwyck in place of Vivien Leigh. Later generations of the technology will give consumers more flexibility and be more appealing from a price-performance perspective.”

Reports confirm that Turner disappeared while inspecting AOL facilities which run their new Superposition Codec, and conflicting eye-witness accounts suggest that Turner was looking at, and possibly poking, some sensitive equipment at the moment he vanished.

Theories concerning the cause of Turner’s disappearance abound. “I suspect that Turner somehow accidentally flipped himself, caused himself to enter a state of superposition which was resolved against his continued existence,” opines M.I.T. professor of quantum math Edna Hem. “Objects of Turner’s size don’t typically become indeterminate because of their interactions with the environment. However, there’s nothing in principle to prevent it. His proximity to their ‘Superposition Codec’ probably isn’t a coincidence. It certainly makes more sense than ‘spontaneous combustion.'”

Though County officials only consider Turner to be missing, reports are that plans for a memorial service have already begun, including a publicly broadcast wake, and a mile-long procession of Turner Classic Bison through the streets of Atlanta.

Sir Robert Downey Jr. Chokes on Viral Sushi, Dies

Dec. 6, 2072
MALIBU–Officials at the Malibu Hospital for Actors and Sports Personalities confirmed this evening that American-born actor Sir Robert Downey Jr. died earlier in the day from advanced, irreversible neural tissue asphyxiation caused when his air-way was obstructed by a piece of “viral sushi” during his lunch at a trendy new restaurant in Los Angeles’ City of Industry neighborhood. “It was a very unsettling scene,” noted a diner present at the time. “We were all just very excited to see him and to be eating in the same room with him, he’s seen in public so rarely. And then this terrible thing happened. It’s a real tragedy.”

Sally Okibuchi, speaking on behalf of the restaurant, was careful to point out that the accident was unrelated to the viral content of the sushi: “At Sony’s New Fish Experience we use fish spiked with sophisticated, tasteful, and fully treatable viruses and bacteria. Mr. Downey’s accident had nothing to do with the way in which our fish is prepared. Our cuts are traditional in size and shape.”

Viral sushi is the latest culinary craze in avant-fad circles in the Southland. With names like “anthrax maguro,” “hamachi scrapie,” and “tamago salmonella”–popularly known as “tamago sal”–viral sushi dishes include traditional cuts of raw fish that have been treated with formerly deadly and debilitating viruses. After treatment, the fish is tenderized and incubated, sometimes for hours, sometimes for days, depending upon the characteristics of the fish and the desired result. Enthusiasts and food experts sing the praises of the infected fish: “Fish spiked correctly with anthrax achieves a richness and dimensionality of flavor that uninfected fish can only approximate,” explains New York Times food critic Aimful Spee. “The auto-immune response of the tissue, in particular the poignant flavor of an immune response which is inadequate, failing, that is the essence of this innovative cuisine.”

In addition to their culinary qualities, certain cuts of viral sushi, through planned interactions with the more common treatments, induce euphoric seizures and periodic dissociative sensory reveries. Patrons and employees believed Downey Jr. to have been experiencing one of these “taste epiphanies” during the forty-five minutes for which his air-way was blocked by an inadequately chewed piece of “tako coli.”

“We are deeply saddened by this tragedy,” explains Fish Experience’s Okibuchi. “Something like this is an unexpected and unfortunate accident. We sympathize with the loss all of his many fans must feel.”

Downey Jr., only the second American to receive the honor of British knighthood, was best known for his decades-long performance as a troubled, drug-addicted actor in turn-of-the-century Hollywood. Widely recognized as the first actor to fully realize the potential of autobiographical celebrity performance, and widely revered by the generations of students studying his methods, Downey Jr. is survived by two clones and a corporate subsidiary.