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COMM 400 Mass Media Law

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Part 1:

Do a casenotea more concise shorter version of what you did for your recent CA 2 and be detailed on the Analysis of the courts holding, reasoning, whether it was groundbreaking, etc. Use whichever of the two formats you are comfortable (see casenote format in instructions to previous assignment, or as prescribed and in the syllabus project description section) of the following case:

Pope v. Illinois.

(You find it, cite it properly—famous case decided in the 1980's. That's the only hint you get.)

Part 2:

First-and this is very important—look at the attached artwork.

Second- here's the hypothetical-- As always with hypo's, this is reality-based but not a real problem. Do not invent material facts or "bring in" other facts from something "real" you perceive. deal with the hypo as is.

You are a paralegal and law clerk at DC Comics' Los Angeles office, working on clearances and other legal issues relating to media such as film, TV or computer games. One of the in-house attorneys, Liz Goldman at the New York HQ, calls you on company WebEx so she can talk digitally face-to-face (despite the 3 hour time difference) and says:

The artwork (below) is a cover concept for a comic --basically a digital/e-book with accompanying music soundtrack and lines read by actors tracking the dialog in the balloons in each panel (the reader need only tap a panel and the drawn/written dialog and certain sound effects will be audible. This content will to be sold to Kindle and Samsung Galaxy users through Amazon, and iPad/iPhone users through iTunes.

All copyrighted artwork for the project was licensed in a deal last week to TRON Gaming [a made-up name for this assignment, pretend] which is 40% owned by DC’s parent company, Time-Warner. The title of the comic and game will be: "The Dark Knight Gets his Cat" The game, not the animated comic, will carry a mature warning label per the gaming industry’s voluntary agreements from the 1990's and whatever labeling conventions exist today (research that), in downloadable or tangible retail (i.e. from Game Stop, Best Buy, etc.) form for PS4, XBox, and other platforms.
Liz looks worried on your desktop screen. She says, "The title worries me because the whole thing is rife with that double-entendre. The Cover Art (based on the artwork attached) might be ok, but we have kids trying to buy and download this comic and playing the game.”

She shows you panels from the comic and screen shots of the game. There is indeed nudity, but it is back and side; Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle indeed have sex, and there are panels/segment of them in their customs, but strategically ripped to expose body parts and then sex as Batman and Catwoman. There are depictions of child abuse and undressed children, leering pedophilic gangsters (the plot centers on a vicious ring of international child/sex-slave traffickers headed by the Penguin, and Catwoman decides to help the Batman).

She continues, “Not to mention there's graphic violence in both. There are bullet-ridden bodies, teeth and noses broken. Blood, blood, blood!"

"In other words," you interrupt, "how real violence and wounds and fear looks?"

"Yeah, but it all does come back to the sex and language. They use explicit profanity. Then, there the double entendre issue with cat. I heard a rumor Walmart won carry the game. Loosing Wal-Mart would be a big problem. Still, it would be a boon to Game Stop and Best Buy, Target etc.

You reply, sipping your Southern California triple espresso mocha latte, sure the bosses here and in Manhattan are worried nonetheless, right?

"Wrong!" She tells you the editors, producers and artists are gung-ho and approved the launch. They paid big money to artists, game developers and big name Hollywood actors to do voice-overs for the comic. Time-Warner, which through DC owns all the characters outright (unlike Marvel which has licensed them some out to Sony, otherwise they are owned by Disney for film) wants to make a big splash. They—and PS, Xbox, Apple, Amazon—anticipate huge worldwide, not just U.S., sales. “Recall the Japanese have been looking at explicit manga cartoons for years. Here in America, fans since the 1960's, even folks marginally familiar with the characters, have eagerly wanted to see Batman and Catwoman hook up for real! There is a lot of pressure to launch, accordingly, and TRON CEO has already been on CNBC (with DC executives), teasing and touting this as one of its new game-changing games for 2016.

Then, Liz asks you to prepare a memo, citing cases, statutes (all in proper citation form!) articles etc, to her, interweaving law and fact, and walking her through the potential legal pitfalls and potential issues and defenses etc. and looking at this artwork and what she told you in the worst possible light--associated with going ahead with this digital comic and the game. She is interested in, for example, obscenity, indecency and porn--both generally in digital and print media and specifically with respect to children/minors. She's heard of the old "Comics Code" but says that's a minor issue. She heard of "pandering” but is not sure itâ an issue. Shes also heard of a case called Pope v. Illinois, and wonders if it applies. Finally she worried about the FCC

so, riddle me this Bat-fans--what do you tell her?
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