Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Beyond the Milky Way and Forever.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | November 18, 2009

Posted by Cliff Tuttle (c) 2009

SUMMARY: Media contracts are expanding to all time and all space. But is it enough?

WQED in Pittsburgh has drawn the attention of the Wall Street Journal and others for its forward-looking contract terms. Media contracts reserving world-wide broadcast or publication rights are so 20th Century, it seems. After all, television signals are broadcast outward into the universe and travel billions and billions of light years away, presumably without end.

WQED General Counsel, Jacqueline Thomas, says that there hasn’t been any pushback on contract language permitting WQED “to reproduce and publish the same throughout the universe in perpetuity, in any and all media now known or hereinafter devised, including without limitation, all forms of television, home video, digital download, radio and print.”

We wonder whether Thomas, too, is a fan of “Stargate Universe”, currently appearing on the PsyFi Cable TV Channel on Friday nights at 9. A spin-off of the long popular Stargate series, the new show expands our consciousness of the vastness of the universe. A stargate is a portal that instantaneously connects with other stargates placed elsewhere in the universe, through one of those “worm holes”. The Ancients, an advanced civilization that visited Egypt during our antiquity and designed the pyramids, put a stargate aboard an unmanned spacecraft launched into deep space thousands of years ago. It is now passing through realms beyond reach of any technology, except, of course, a stargate. A crew of humans boarded this ship through the stargate to escape an attack, but does not have the power necessary to dial the stargate to take them back to Earth.

It is good to know that if the crew of Stargate Universe (or any other sentient being in the universe) ever watches WQED that the broadcast is protected from piracy. Or is it? Is there any court on earth whose jurisdiction extends beyond this planet? Maybe we had better take care of that, pronto.

Of course, the WQED contract language only applies within the farthest reaches of this universe and time as we know it. It does not apply to parallel universes, dimensions beyond the familiar four or five or states of being without dimensions, including time. It does not apply to the afterlife, or perhaps more correctly, the afterlives. It all makes you realize how pitifully limited we humans are and how little control we really have. We’ll just have to be satisfied with enforcing contracts within the temporal realm — for now.

A hat tip to the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, who brought this fascinating tid-bit to our attention in its entertaining monthly newsletter. It is always nice to know that when we Pennsylvania lawyers do something creative or innovative, the Disciplinary Board is watching. That universe at least has its limits.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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