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Apple received 'cease & desist' over 1984 ad

updated 10:20 am EDT, Mon April 2, 2007

Apple's 1984 spoof redux

The political anti-Hilary Clinton spoof based on Apple's legendary 1984 television ad may be violating copyright laws and could face a lawsuit from the copyright holders of George Orwell's classic novel '1984'. Rosenblum Productions, which acquired the rights to the Orwellian imagery, said that it is "monitoring the situation," but was unclear whether it was focusing on the creator of the video, YouTube, or both parties. The company, however, said that it has defended its rights successfully at least twice before, including a cease and desist to Apple over the original SuperBowl ad more than 20 years ago. "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," said Gina Rosenblum, president of Rosenblum Productions. "The commercial never aired on television again."

by MacNN Staff





  1. rvhernandez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    A Week Old Story...

    Like someone else said, it never aired again because it was dated. After January 24th it was useless. These people are bozos.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Truly Orwellian

    Suing someone for a generic portrayal of totalitarianism? Have Rosenblum Productions never heard of irony?

  1. danviento

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Some people

    will do anything to make a $.

  1. UberFu

    Joined: Dec 1969



    how come they didn't go after the folks who drummed up the movie Gattaca ?

    Or Demolition man ?

    or Minority Report ?

    or The Island ?

    or any other depiction of a totalitarian idea ?

    The Orwellians need to get over themselves_

  1. jumbojet

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Successful? It's the most well-known and replayed ad in this history of Television. Good work, there.

    And, by the way, how does it borrow from the novel, except for the part that says "1984 won't be like 1984?" The man on the screen does not look like Big Brother (Orwell's Big Brother has a mustache in the novel), there is no scene where a woman rushes into a theatre and smashes his face, nor are there any other such similarities.

  1. ZinkDifferent

    Joined: Dec 1969


    They are just... the concepts they acquired -- clearly, Rosenblum wouldn't know 'irony' if it hit them with a 2x4.

    It's an insignificant copyright holder, trying to fabricate significance by riding on the coattails of controversy. What else is new.

  1. Jeronimo2000

    Joined: Dec 1969


    total (-itarian) BS

    "The commercial never aired on television again."

    Oh really?

    In the days after the original airing of the ad every major news programme on TV reported on it, most of them replaying the ad in its entirity.

    Seems that Big Brother is a bit braindead.

  1. rahrens

    Joined: Dec 1969



    If this ever went to court, it would be interesting, because a book's success can undermine its ability to control derivative content. The term "1984" has, because of the book's success, become almost synonymous with totalitarianism, and by that year, could be said to have entered the national vocabulary much as terms like "Kleenex" or "Xerox" had.

    Besides, as a number, or the descriptor of a year, the term "1984" could be argued to have no copyright in and of itself.

    It would be a hard sell, besides, as the other poster above noted, by 24 January, the ad had become dated, and no longer needed to be run anyway.

  1. broohaha22

    Joined: Dec 1969



    It's quite obvious that all people are stupid.


  1. MacPhoenix

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: interesting

    Your point is valid, but for a small detail. Titles can never be copyrighted. "1984" the title is not under copyright protection. The book itself is. They're not trying to protect the term "1984," but the ideas in the book.

    It's obviously ridiculous on the face of it, though, as everyone has said. Apple aired the advertisement once by design, not because of some idiotic claims of copyright infringement. It was guerilla marketing at its finest. Apple pays a(n extraordinary) sum once during the Super Bowl, and then lets every news outlet replay the ad for free for the next month.

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