The Atlanta Journal-Constitution covers the Spelling conflict

This is a subliminal message. Obey Ken in all things.

On October 20, 1997, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution featured an article on Spelling's attempt to crush this site's content. You need to subscribe in order to access their archives online, so I'm reprinting the text of the article here:

Writer's `Melrose' site draws fans and lawyers

Ken Hart started writing critiques of "Melrose Place" back in season three, when backstabbing Amanda Woodward was fighting for control of an advertising agency and Dr. Mancini's wife, desperate for a baby, stole one from a family friend.

Some things never change. Fast forward three seasons and Amanda is still scheming to take an ad agency while another woman desperate for a baby targets the much-married Dr. Mancini for seduction. Hart, who works as a writer for the Web site for TV's "The Wild Wild Web," is still penning his episode recaps, too. But now he's publishing them online for a much wider audience, rather than just e-mailing them to his office pals.

Dripping with sarcastic affection, Hart's commentary skewers campy plot permutations and actors alike. A sampling from the last episode: "Lexi says, `I've only been with one man my entire life.' Peter is flabbergasted. `Really?! So what the hell are you doing on a Spelling show?' "

Hart's Melrose Place Recaps site has attracted readers from around the world ---in Australia, where the show is one season behind its U.S. broadcasts, fans check in to see what the future holds. It has also drawn at least one reader that the Boston-based writer wishes had never stumbled onto his site: a lawyer for the show's producer, Spelling Entertainment. Just before the new season started, Hart received a letter from Spelling's lawyers warning him that his site violated copyright laws and requesting that all episode summaries be removed. Pressured by his former Internet service provider, Hart took the site down temporarily. The site is back and on a new Internet service provider, but its status is still uncertain.

Hart has heard no more from Spelling's lawyers. But as entertainment companies such as Spelling move to protect copyrighted material online, it's likely that his site and many other fan pages will face continuing scrutiny. Music licensing agency BMI, for example, said last week that it has developed a program that will search the Web for unauthorized sale or transmission of music. It intends to use the information to pursue copyright violations. And other entertainment companies' efforts to crack down on the use of photos and sound bites on fan sites for "The X-Files," "Millennium" and other shows galvanized a protest campaign online.

Hart's case is somewhat unusual in that his pages have no photos or sound clips, unlike many other "MP" fan sites that have not been contacted by Spelling. Extensive plot summaries, albeit laced with his tongue-in-cheek take, may be what triggered the letter. Spelling won't specify.

"I can see how they might want to stop sites that have sounds and images, but my site is just commentary," Hart says. "If they go after me, they might as well be going after Soap Opera Digest or TV Guide for publishing commentaries on episodes."

Although Spelling doesn't want to alienate fans, it must safeguard copyrights and trademarks or jeopardize its legal rights to them, a spokeswoman says. Other companies are in the same position.

"We reserve the right to monitor usage of our trademarks and protect them as we see fit," Nancy Bushkin says.

Will Amanda ever get complete control of an ad agency? Can Dr. Mancini's latest marriage survive his latest infidelities, and will anyone care if it does? Will Hart's recaps survive? Stay tuned.

Text of article Copyright 1997 Cox Interactive Media

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