On Sunday, March 17 at 3 pm Eastern Time classmate Bill Coulson will be having his second Casual Conversation with us.  The first was on Chicago public transit (you can look up the old announcement on the Class website where all the announcements may be found, courtesy of the great work of classmate Peter Elias).  This time his topic has as its source the writings of a man half a continent and an ocean away: protecting the intellectual property (in the U.S.) of Eric Arthur Blair, known by his pen name of “George Orwell.”


Here is Bill’s description of his subject:


Learn how an unemployed Chicago housewife came to own the tv and movie rights to British author George Orwell’s classic novel ‘1984’.  And find out how CBS Television, Apple Computer, Motorola, and Hillary Clinton’s political opponents all got it very wrong!


The claims of being the political heirs to Orwell go only so far (and, by my lights, the late Christopher Hitches wins the prize), and do not embrace his literary works.   For that, you will need to speak with Bill and pay money—at least if you are in the U.S.  Apparently, the copyright to Orwell’s writings expired in the UK.  And, no, you don’t need to read anything for this discussion.  I am assuming that everyone has read both Animal Farm and 1984. 


Here is Bill’s bio:


William R. Coulson is a Chicago area attorney who specializes in intellectual property litigation across the nation. He graduated from Dartmouth College (AB in Mathematics) and the University of Illinois College of Law. After Clerking for two US District Court Judges, Bill for thirteen years was an Assistant US Attorney in Chicago, including eight years as a Supervisor. He then joined a small boutique IP firm, before co-founding Gold and Coulson in 1999. Among his cases, he litigated for over ten years in New York against British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber over allegedly stolen music, and represented the Late, Great Godfather of Soul James Brown, and "The Music Man" actress and singer Shirley Jones in rights-of-publicity lawsuits. Bill also represented the Estate of George Orwell in a copyright/trademark suit against CBS Television and others arising out of the CBS 'reality program' Big Brother. Bill continues to consult, write, and vet rights requests for material from Orwell's novel '1984'. As a hobby, Bill visits remote World War II Pacific island battlefields and writes about their appearance today for history magazines.


Usual rules apply: if you want to attend, email me at arthur.fergenson@ansalaw.com by Friday, March 15 at close of business.  And when you sign up, please put the date and time in your calendar, not down the memory hole!


Arthur Fergenson


P.S.  If you want to take on an assignment in advance of the discussion, you can always watch Shirley Jones’s Oscar-winning performance as a prostitute in Elmer Gantry.  We won’t be discussing it, but you will have a great time with an actress essaying a role light years away from Marian the Librarian.  Just make sure that you watch it from a legitimate source: DON’T INFRINGE! 

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