Greedy greedy mo beedy banana fana fo feedy mi my mo meedy, GREEDY!
God, I love the name game. And aside from names like, "chuck" the name game is a great thing to play for everyone. Recently it seems a particular movie superstar likes the name game also. Only this is a cyber name game and the superstar is pissed off because of it.
The Associated Press announced the World Intellectual Property Organization's decision today that The Pretty Woman herself, Julia Roberts has divine rights to a website with her namesake over that of the original owner. Said owner, Russell Boyd of New Jersey bought and registered the site with plans to sell it on eBay. When the actress complained, he decided to open it up as a fan site. This did not make her smile either. And let's face it, we all like to see Julia Roberts smile.
So she went to court and sued for the rights to her cyber name, juliaroberts.com and has now won. Boyd, decidedly miffed about the outcome has been pretty mouthy about this issue. "Julia the multimillionaire and her team of lawyers have struck a powerful blow against the common man and his mistaken belief in free speech." He said at a press conference.
Wow. The chick that played Shelby in Steel Magnolias is responsible for crumbling the founding concepts of Americana. Damn her! No wonder she looks so good in red, the Commie!
Now, Julia certainly has the right to her own website, even if someone else created it first. However, Boyd has a point when he suggests a possible situation where a person who has the same name as a celebrity. If he/she buys a site using their common name as the URL, does the famous person supercede his/her claim? Clearly, the answer now is yes. This says that richer and more famous people are better then you. Period.
Of course, another way to have gone here was Julia to have bought the site from him. What's a few extra grand to make all parties happy? Then again, what is the point of being a Hollywood starlet if you can't wail and whine about something and then ask for it for free?
This brings up the issue of "cybersquatting". It is an event where people register names and then sell them to larger corporations or celebrities for huge sums of money because the big guys were too slow to register it in the first place. Many folks feel cybersquatting is unjust and wrong. However, I disagree. Can you imagine the wars that would have happened during the Great American land grabs back in the 1800s if this new precedent were in place? Imagine thousands of Irish Settlers racing across the plains to lay claim with their colored flag only to be whacked into homelessness by the local bigshot because he is the more important and thus the more deserving individual.
There is exactly no difference here between Julia and the Irish. Both are known for their red hair and bad attitudes and they both have that endearing quality of being cute and annoying at the same time. To answer the question, Julia does own her name but she does not own it for the entire planet Earth. There is no little circle with a letter c in it after Julia's name. I know, I looked. I even used a microscope and tweezers. She was very cooperative during the examination. I'm talking about copyrights. And that is the real issue here.
As a writer, it is imperative that I copyright everything I create. It is the only way to protect my work from being stolen by others. However, this website usurpation thing throws all this out of whack. I recently received a note from another Adam Hyland on the planet. He lives in Australia. I was happy to hear from him when my guestbook. (Hiya, Adam if you're reading!) Now, if he was some famous Aussie who wanted to steal everything I have written since day one, the precedence has been established by the WIPO to allow him to do that. (Uh, Adam. Try it and die.)
Boyd said this decision damages the fabric of free speech. He is wrong. Free speech is still free. Protected speech is what's at stake here. I like Julia Roberts but I think the courts giving her the website's ownership just because her name happens to be the same is ridiculous. She should just make a different website for herself and end this. Or she could even get revenge and register russellboyd.com since he has obviously gotten famous because of this fiasco.
Or how about this? She can register the website name:
Try that name in the name game song. Go ahead, I dare ya. I'll be back next week to see how you're doing!