Motorola’s Not-"1984” ad: We’ve Always Been at War with Copyright Law

Big Brother was watching Motorola’s Xoom tablet ad during the Super Bowl to make sure it didn’t borrow too much from George Orwell’s 1949 classic. But Big Brother owes his existence to other people’s prose…

The Tribune’s Ameet Sachdev has an amusing column today about a copyright lawyer who had to watch the Super Bowl specifically for Motorola’s Xoom tablet ad. The lawyer represents the copyright holder of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, which inspired Apple’s classic 1984 Super Bowl ad for the first Macintosh, which inspired Sunday’s Motorola ad, and he wanted to make sure that it didn’t rip off Orwell’s masterpiece.

I sent this article to my wife, who is a lawyer, because I thought she’d appreciate the irony. But she was also a comparative literature major who specialized in Russian and eastern European lit, and she pointed out that the plot and characters of Nineteen Eighty-Four are, um, highly influenced by Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, which was written 25 years before the former novel.

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