Rupert Murdoch Lobotomized in ‘Iron Surgeon’ Mishap

Aug. 16, 2020
LOS ANGELES–Fox Studios officials today confirmed that reclusive media tycoon Rupert Murdoch suffered accidental injuries during a Wednesday taping of the popular Iron Surgeon program. “Chairman Murdoch was injured when a laser-equipped remote incision and cauterization pistol accidentally discharged and struck him in the head while he was observing the taping from his dais,” explained Fox Spokeswoman Jessica Wrenkle. “We aren’t at liberty to discuss the incident in any more detail until official inquiries have concluded.”

The show, pitting surgeons from around the world against Murdoch’s own hand-picked ‘Iron Surgeons,’ including ‘Iron Surgeon Cardiovascular’ Dr. Theodore Lime, ‘Iron Surgeon Neurological’ Dr. Jennifer Frame, and ‘Iron Surgeon Orthopedic’ Dr. Laura Nimbu, challenges surgeons to complete death-defying procedures on patients using a surprise ‘theme instrument.’ A challenger, competing head-to-head against the Iron Surgeon of her choice, operates on three or four patients selected from a roster and is judged on “artistry, creativity, morbidity, and use of the theme instrument.” Recent theme instruments have included a spatula, a scalpel-shooting crossbow, and a bungee cord. Murdoch has guaranteed successful challengers “the people’s ovation and fame forever.”

Murdoch, rarely seen in public since dedicating much of his fortune to the building of ‘Surgery Stadium’ and the endowment of the program and its proprietary satellite network, routinely appeared on the show to interview contestants and to moderate the judges’ discussion. “He really loved the show,” notes frequent celebrity guest judge Gary Coleman. “Once the cameras were on he was full of witty quips, all totally unscripted. But I never really saw him off-camera. As soon as shooting would stop he’d call for his assistants and they’d drop this big, black sort of tarp over him and wheel him away.”

Witnesses to the Wednesday taping have indicated that the laser incision pistol that injured Murdoch was not the current theme instrument. “They were using this big helium tank,” explains one audience member. “The Iron Surgeon was doing a splenectomy. She’d inflated all these surgical gloves and tied them to the spleen. They lifted it up just like a hot air balloon. Just lifted it right up, right out of the patient. I guess it got too close to a stage light or something, but all of the sudden the spleen started shooting around the studio like a rocket. Then it hit a stagehand who was carrying some stuff and I heard Mr. Murdoch scream.”

Though members of Murdoch’s medical team were not available to comment, sources close to the family confirm that the laser caused significant ‘frontal lobe trauma,’ and that prospects of recovery were not strong.

“It really hurts to see him like this,” explains Sam Bill, Murdoch’s personal fingernail wrangler. “I went to see him to keep up the training of his nails and he didn’t even seem to recognize me. He was just sitting there, smiling, watching TV. I’ve known him for nine years and I’ve never seen him smile. It’s just so sad.”

Aniston, Pitt Anonymized, Keys Lost

April 23, 2072
MALIBU–Spokespeople for celebrity activists Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston confirmed today that the longtime couple is currently anonymized and that the decryption keys have been lost or damaged. “Brad and Jennifer have always enjoyed mixing with the public,” explains a spokesperson for the couple. “They’re very down to earth that way. They had just turned on their anonymizers for a trip down to Pizza Bell to pick up some dinner. When they went to turn them off, they found that something had gone wrong. They’ve both remained encrypted for the past couple of weeks or so. We’re hopeful that the technical people will be able to recover the keys in due course.”

Pitt and Aniston both use recent versions of PGP-compliant anonymizing hardware sold by Oakley under the GygesTM brand. The Gyges system includes millions of self-replicating nanoMEMS that reside in the epidermis. The small machines each control a nanoscopic mirror. Networked by low-power RF connections, the MEMS form a giant neural net dedicated to anonymizing the wearer through control of the mirrors. Light striking the wearer is re-directed in a seemingly random fashion, disguising the wearer’s true appearance. Recent versions of Gyges have begun using distributed 65K-bit encryption of the “façade” in order to thwart filter-enabled lenses and glasses.

“We’ve gotten quite used to seeing anonymized patrons,” notes Sally Okibuchi, manager of Sony’s New Fish Experience, a popular L.A. celebrity haunt. “It was disconcerting when they started to show up a few years ago, looking all blocky, like some kind of whistleblower or secret government witness or something. And those scrambled voices were a real hoot. But some of the newer anonymizers have a real sense of style, some of them are really beautiful.”

According to sources near the couple, Pitt and Aniston regularly used a beta patch to Gyges that enables “cross-keying,” or the sharing of keys between users and specially enabled HUD glasses through a proprietary PKI. Pitt and Aniston were known to use designer HUD glasses to enable them to see each other while they remained anonymized to the general public. Experts who have examined the couple hypothesize that a bug in the patch is causing their anonymizers to export the dynamically generated keys to the associated HUD glasses while deleting the local copy of the key, preventing the systems from decrypting the couple.

“It’s a real shame from our perspective,” notes AOL Studio Chief Marianne Asse. “Two of our most bankable stars have just plummeted in value. Sure, they can still see each other, but what about their obligations to us and to their public? Their contracts specifically require key escrow. They should have given us a copy of the key to hold in case of emergencies like this. They didn’t, and that has put them in default. According to contract, that grants us a right to use their likenesses digitally on stand-ins, and that’s probably where we’re headed.”

“There’s a good reason Jennifer and Brad didn’t trust the studio with their keys,” explains the couple’s spokesperson. “They’ve had trouble in the past with the studio leaking the keys to contracted paparazzi and poaching extra-contractual public appearances. We’re prepared to talk about exactly who has broken the contracts and when. The default clause specifies that AOL gets the right to digital likenesses only if Brad and Jennifer are substantially unable to perform their duties. Sure, their bodies and faces are anonymized and won’t show up right on camera, but their hair remains perfectly shootable. As long as they can shoot the hair, they’ve got their stars. The studio can digitally add their own likenesses to them. This ‘stand-in’ talk is just the studios trying to get out of paying the stars, and it’s not right.”

Though fans remain hopeful, encryption experts outside the Pitt-Aniston camp doubt that the couple can be decrypted. “This is an example of bad design and inadequate testing in a life-critical application,” notes one expert. “Getting them decrypted would require something like harnessing the quantum computational power of a body the size of the sun. They’re just not going to be cracked for centuries.”

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.”