Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Who Owns My Name? (amandamarieknox.medium.com)
908 points by Tomte on July 30, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 267 comments

It’s a really powerful article, and it’s hard to argue with any of it. What a nightmare it must be to have what happened to Amanda Knox happen to you. A totally innocent person, who was not only imprisoned for years for a crime she had nothing to do with, but also had her name dragged in the mud by the global press for years. To such an extent that most casual observers still think she had something to do with the crime.

It’s clear that the filmmakers have no legal obligation to Knox (and she acknowledges as much in the article), but I think it is equally clear that they have a moral obligation to not slander her using a thinly veiled fictional character.

It’s a shame too, because the real “Amanda Knox saga” would make for a much more interesting movie: what is it like to have your roomate murdered, your life destroyed, and your identity robbed from you by the global tabloid press? That’s the real Amanda Knox story.

>It’s clear that the filmmakers have no legal obligation to Knox (and she acknowledges as much in the article)

I think you and she are being generous. Amanda 'jokingly' floats the idea of defaming and slandering Matt Damon under the guise of fictionalization. She makes an excellent point-- Matt wouldn't put up with that. The only plausible distinction he can make is that his movie is not a gross distortion of the moral character of a living person, which seems like the sort of thing courts can and do sort between litigants who cannot agree.

>floats the idea of defaming and slandering Matt Damon under the guise of fictionalization. She makes an excellent point-- Matt wouldn't put up with that.

But it seems like Matt Damon would have to put up with it. What could Matt realistically do? Filing a lawsuit would probably go nowhere. See the informal "small penis" rule by fiction writers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_penis_rule

The 2010 film "The Social Network" didn't even bother with fictionalized names and made Mark Zuckerberg look bad but he didn't sue. One legal opinion thinks MZ didn't have an easy case of defamation which would make the lawsuit a waste of time: https://www.litigationandtrial.com/2010/07/articles/the-law/...

"The social network" does not make Mark Zuckerberg look bad. He looks like a poor socially inept nerd who got scammed by Parker, it makes one want to pity him.

I'm currently reading a book called "Facebook The Inside Story" and while it's definitely an anti-Facebook perspective it illustrates a number of ways the movie was unfair to Mark.

The biggest problem, to me, was suggesting that Mark basically stole the concept from the Winklevoss twins. The book traces the origins of the idea and clarifies the context. Things like: there are many other similar social networks, a boy at Mark's previous school had created and shared a "Facebook" project, the Harvard school newspaper was explicitly calling for the creation of a school wide Facebook (and that call inspired Mark to try and create one first), etc. It's less like he stole the idea from the Winklevoss twins and more like the idea was out there in many ways. What he did to the Winklevoss twins was tell them he was working on their project while working on his own intentionally trying to derail them.

> The biggest problem, to me, was suggesting that Mark basically stole the concept from the Winklevoss twins.

I don't think the film suggests that at all. It says the Winklevoss think this, of course. But it doesn't agree with them.

> What he did to the Winklevoss twins was tell them he was working on their project while working on his own intentionally trying to derail them.

That's also exactly what the movie says. The film is on the Winklevoss's side at all - it makes them look ridiculous for thinking their "innovative" idea is that a harvard.edu address is exclusive. They're douchebags who want to make a website to put on the internet what is already happening at the Finals clubs (buses bringing in hot women to party with harvard legacies).

The part of the film that I thought was the biggest problem was that it framed the whole Facebook project as Mark's way to deal with loneliness. The film starts with him being dumped by Erica. The film ends with him refreshing (pathetically) the pending friend request to her on Facebook.

In reality he had a long term girlfriend when he started developing Facebook and she is now his wife.

Mark maybe a socially awkward human who doesn't quite understand that Facebook has become a weird perversion of actual social interaction, but he is not alone the way the film constantly repeats (Eduardo: "I was your only friend")

I agree with you that the film also slights Zuckerberg by suggesting he has few or no friends and was creating Facebook over a girl. There are a number of things I think the film "gets wrong". The removal of Saverin made a lot more sense to me in reading the Facebook book I referenced above compared to when I saw the movie - where it felt much more like betraying a friend.

When I saw the film I did get the impression that it supported the "Mark stole the idea from Winklevoss twins" narrative. Granted, I saw it years ago and I may be remembering things incorrectly, but that's what I (remember that I) took away from it.

A big concept that I think the movie "gets wrong" (scare quotes because the movie successfully tells an entertaining story and isn't trying to be a faithful history, so the movie isn't exactly wrong, just not reflective of reality) is the focus on the drama with the twins, Saverin, and Mark. The book spends much more time with Facebook design decisions and a broader cast.

The movie's narrower focus on a few main characters and their drama makes it seem like the consequential moments of Facebook's history are things like getting the idea from the Winklevoss twins. The movie thinks more about a spark of an idea - Facebook, whereas the book thinks more about taking a prototype and turning it into a big business. I think the latter is more of what is important about Facebook.

>"The social network" does not make Mark Zuckerberg look bad

It depicts that he did steal the idea from the Winklevoss brothers. It also painted a picture that he directly conspired with his investors to screw Eduardo Saverin.

I suspect that's all at least partially true, but perhaps not as clear cut as the film shows.

Maybe something was lost in translation, I watched the movie dubbed to Spanish, but what I remember is that the Winklevoss tried to exploit Zuckerberg and Saverin was slacking after the first few months, so Zuckerberg only responded in a crude but not totally unreasonable fashion.

Movies tend to make us identify with the main character, maybe that's why I saw his actions as adequate to the throat-cutting environment.

I meant the sort of timeline that unrolled...you see things like this excerpt, supposedly an email between Zuck and the Winklevosses:

"I read over all the stuff you sent me re: Harvard Connection and it seems like it shouldn't take too long to implement, so we can talk about it after I get all the basic functionality up tomorrow night."

Where that's happening, in the movie, well before Zuck starts working on "The Facebook". Without any other context that perhaps it wasn't Zuck's first exposure to that kind of idea.

> but what I remember is that the Winklevoss tried to exploit Zuckerberg and Saverin was slacking after the first few months, so Zuckerberg only responded in a crude but not totally unreasonable fashion.

I don't know what Saverin was actually up to in those days (reality vs the fiction of the movie), however the movie clarified that Saverin was taking the subway in New York "12 hours a day" trying to generate advertising sales for Facebook. It notes that he had taken an internship and quit the first day to direct his time in pursuit of trying to garner ad sales for Facebook. Parker insults Saverin about this in the confrontation scene at the Palo Alto house they're renting ("you're just one step away from bagging Snookies Cookies"), and then Saverin clarifies to Zuckerberg in the hallway what he's up to.

The movie makes it appear as if they decided to cut Saverin out of the company because he froze the company accounts out of spite, after Zuckerberg tells Saverin that he needs to move out to California, that he's at risk of being left behind. There's a phone call between Zuckerberg and Saverin (during which Saverin's girlfriend lights something on fire), where an upset Zuckerberg confronts Saverin about freezing the company accounts, where he rants about the risk that it posed to Facebook and its uptime.

Did Saverin actually do that, and did that play a role in why they tried to cut him out of the company? Maybe somebody else here that knows a lot more can chime in.

This story with quoted personal instant messages & emails indicates Saverin began running unauthorized ads on Facebook to promote his own thing and that there was a more elaborate decay in the relationship between the founders:


The film shows how he betrayed and stole Eduardo Saverin's money.

If Zuckerberg looks like a shit person, it is because he is a shit person.

everyone looked bad in that movie.

I think Aaron Sorkin relishes in making people look really horrible.

Really? I won't say everyone in The West Wing is a saint. But most everyone on both sides of the aisle comes across as a lot more idealistic and principled than you're likely to find in the real Washington DC.

Money and connections open other options for applying pressure. For instance, see the alleged behavior of Harvey Weinstein towards Rose McGowan involving spooks for hire.

(I'm not talking about Damon at all here, I don't know much of anything about him. Just pointing out that lawsuits are far from the only tools available to those with means.)

And yet Zuck, a billionaire, _didn't_ do anything like that.

I have a theory that you can measure someone's power by how many people can hate them without them having to care.

Why should Zuck care if the movie paints him in a poor light? He is an near-infinitely powerful megabillionaire before the movie, and he is one afterwards. The movie could show him eating babies for an hour and a half and it likely wouldn't budge Facebook's stock price.

If I were to name this theory, I'd call it "The Law of Larry Ellison". Because no matter what you do, you'll never be as hated as Ellison and look how much that has affected him. I don't think he's sailing is megayacht to his giant private Hawaiian island and crying himself to sleep because the world doesn't like him.

It's possible that he wanted to, but was advised that making a big deal about it would only draw more attention and make things worse.

So I guess he didn’t have enough money and power to open the right doors?

Or perhaps it’s really hard to win a defamation case against works of fiction. No matter how much money and power you have.

Zuckerberg is, and was, especially after the movie came out, much more famous than Weinstein, and the portrayals in question are different. One is unflattering, the other is attempting to cover a felony.

When there's an unflattering depiction out there of you, bringing more attention to it might be counterproductive, depending on how bad it is.

If you're worried about going to prison, all of a sudden how unflattering you're seen likely becomes secondary to that.

Even if you win the case, you've still drawn a lot of extra unwanted attention to it.

It perhaps it doesn’t matter and ignoring it is the best course of action?

IANAL, but I think she absolutely has a legal case. It costs a lot of money to make a case "go nowhere" even with the slightest validity.

The small penis thing doesn't seem relevant here, and even if so, it's a strategy for making it more difficult to make what would be a valid claim.

>IANAL, but I think she absolutely has a legal case.

If she does, it seems like a bunch of greedy lawyers looking for a big pay day would be willing to take her libel case on contingency which would cost her nothing. If a lawyer is willing to risk a ton of their own firm's money because they're confident of a winning big multi-million dollar judgement from the filmmaker, that would a good signal that Amanda has an excellent case.

Maybe her phone is ringing off the hook with calls from such lawyers but I doubt it because such defamations lawsuits against works of fiction have been historically hard to win.

Another aspect that's made more confusing by the various replies in this thread is that the film's official marketing (trailer, official website, posters) do not mention "Amanda Knox" or even have a tagline of "inspired by a true story". Instead, it's the various news media (such as Vanity Fair magazine article she cited) making the parallels to Amanda Knox.

Yes, the filmmakers may be sly about avoiding the mention of "Amanda Knox" while being fully aware that the media outlets will make that connection in the minds of the public for them.

>The small penis thing doesn't seem relevant here,

To clarify in case the sequence of ideas got lost in the replies... I mentioned the "small penis" informal rule was a strategy for Amanda Knox to hypothetically write a fiction story about someone named "Mack Dorkin not being well-endowed" and the real Matt Damon not pursuing a lawsuit to silence her. It wasn't about "Stillwater"'s filmmakers using that strategy to protect themselves from Amanda Knox.

Mark Zuckerberg couldn’t have sued because the media would have spun that into a PR disaster for Facebook, and they already have enough of those.

Couldn't the small penis be considered part of the slander?

"small penis" was Chrichton making a mean joke, not a legal theory.

>"small penis" was Chrichton making a mean joke, not a legal theory.

I had already used the adjective "informal" to describe the so-called "rule" so there was no need to nitpick that it wasn't "legal theory".

In any case, it seems like you didn't carefully read the wikipedia article so your attempted correction is not accurate. You've got your timeline mixed up.

The "small penis rule" was mentioned by journalist Dinitia Smith in 1998 (6 years before Michael Chrichton used it in his 2004 book) in a New York Times article. She was relaying a legal strategy told to her by attorney Leon Friedman.

Excerpt from the NY Times 1998 article:

>Leon Friedman, who was Sir Stephen's American lawyer in his dispute with Mr. Leavitt and who moderated the Authors Guild panel, observed that ''under New York State law, you cannot use a person's name, portrait or picture for purposes of trade without their permission.'' You can, however, use a person's identity if you don't use his name, he added.

>That is, unless you libel them. ''Still, for a fictional portrait to be actionable, it must be so accurate that a reader of the book would have no problem linking the two,'' said Mr. Friedman. Thus, he continued, libel lawyers have what is known as ''the small penis rule.'' One way authors can protect themselves from libel suits is to say that a character has a small penis, Mr. Friedman said. ''Now no male is going to come forward and say, 'That character with a very small penis, 'That's me!' ''

I laughed out loud reading the small penis wiki

>Matt [Damon] wouldn't put up with that.



How is a silly portrayal at all equivalent to insinuating someone murdered (or caused the death of) their friend?

Besides, there is a higher level of protection from libel in the US as a private person vs a public figure.

Matt Damon is good friends with Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and the only reason they made him like that is because the doll maker messed up on Damon's doll and he looked like a dunce.

Satire is protected speech.

Making a movie "based on the Amanda Knox story" and then implying she was involved in the murder is not clearly satirical. Comment higher up says she doesn't have a case, but I honestly don't understand how this wouldn't be libel/slander.

I'd contribute to the Kickstarter.

Jimmy Dell : I think you'll find that if what you've done for them is as valuable as you say it is, if they are indebted to you morally but not legally, my experience is they will give you nothing, and they will begin to act cruelly toward you.

Joe Ross : Why?

Jimmy Dell : To suppress their guilt.

- The Spanish Prisoner

They really would have done her service if they would have just left her name out entirely and just said "the movie stands on its own merit". They could have handled this so much better if they would have just talked to her from the start rather than near completion/release of the movie. Particularly in promoting it.

They could if it was an indie movie. If Matt Damon's starring, that's an 8-figure sum that's got to be made back somehow. Marketing costs for movies today are as much as the film budget itself.

>Marketing costs for movies today are as much as the film budget itself.

I think I will have to fact check on this when I have time. Seems to be off to me as the numbers and scale dont make much sense.

There is a quite interesting Amanda Knox documentary that she was very much involved in making on Netflix. If you want the, "saga" its worth a watch.

> the real “Amanda Knox saga” would make for a much more interesting movie: what is it like to have your roomate murdered, your life destroyed, and your identity robbed from you by the global tabloid press? That’s the real Amanda Knox story.

I might be confused but isn't that the exact plot of the movie she is referencing?

Apart from the detail where the real Knox is innocent and the movie Knotnox conspired with the killer, as the article explains.

Fair enough, though the main impression I got from this article was that she does not wish to be associated with these kinds of movies at all, so I'm not sure if (another) movie about "the real Amanda Knox story" is really the right take away from the article.

The real Knox was acquitted and found not guilty. That’s different from being innocent.

She was explicitly declared innocent by the court system, not merely "not guilty".

100% wrong. From Wikipedia:

"On 27 March 2015, Italy's highest court, the Court of Cassation, ruled that Knox and Sollecito were innocent of murder, thereby definitively ending the case. Rather than merely declaring that there were errors in the earlier court cases or that there was insufficient evidence to convict, the court ruled that Knox and Sollecito had not committed the murder and were innocent of those charges..."


No, the Italian Supreme court definitively acquitted them and explicitly ruled that they were innocent. I'm sure that doesn't change your viewpoint on anything though.

> It’s a shame too, because the real “Amanda Knox saga” would make for a much more interesting movie: what is it like to have your roomate murdered, your life destroyed, and your identity robbed from you by the global tabloid press? That’s the real Amanda Knox story.

What are the themes of this new movie, then, if not those?

> What are the themes of this new movie, then, if not those?

It falsely implies that Amanda is partially guilty for one (from the article):

> McCarthy told Vanity Fair that “Stillwater’s ending was inspired not by the outcome of Knox’s case, but by the demands of the script he and his collaborators had created.” Cool, so I wonder, is the character based on me actually innocent?

> Turns out, she asked the killer to help her get rid of her roommate. She didn’t mean for him to kill her, but her request indirectly led to the murder. How do you think that impacts my reputation?

I haven’t seen the movie so I have no idea, but I can’t but quote from the article itself:

“..is the character based on me actually innocent?

Turns out, she asked the killer to help her get rid of her roommate. She didn’t mean for him to kill her, but her request indirectly led to the murder. How do you think that impacts my reputation? I continue to be accused of “knowing something I’m not revealing,” of “having been involved somehow, even if I didn’t plunge the knife.” So Tom McCarthy’s fictionalized version of me is just the tabloid conspiracy guilter version of me.”

Thanks. I can see now how the tone might appear different, but it was a genuine question.

Haven’t read the blog post but in her tweet thread last night, Knox spoils how the movie ends —- and also, based on the trailer, the movie theme seems to be much more about American-dad-out-of-America than the media and justice issues surrounding the real case.

Spoiler tweet: https://twitter.com/amandaknox/status/1420872227277262852?s=...

To be fair, spoiling the ending of the movie was necessary to make her case - which also had said side benefit, giving her the most minor of retributions.

It seems like she got judged massively simply because she was/ is a very attractive woman; media who are under instruction to capitalise on attractive females[0] had no qualms about doing so in her case either.

It's all up pretty disgusting and I'm extremely disappointed with Matt Damon for getting involved with this movie _now_ - reopening all those wounds yet again - without even checking in with her.

[0] There's evidence of this in Kevin Rudd's Royal Commission on Murdoch in Australia - https://youtu.be/X68NVLPVzuI

While Amanda Knox is not guilty of Meredith Kercher's murder, she is guilty of accusing a random guy of being the murderer. I think she was sentenced to 2-3 years for this false accusation.

You're talking about the one where the European Court of Human Rights condemned Italy for not giving her a fair trial?


I didn't know about that, but it doesn't surprise me, given the shit show Italian courts are.

Thank you

Fascinating article. I thought she was exaggerating when she complained about people accusing her of being a media whore, until I scrolled down to the [flagged] [dead] and saw someone doing just that.

But I don't think she has a choice. In the past, it would've been possible for someone in her shoes to choose obscurity. In the past, the real Amanda Knox and the idea of Amanda Knox that exists in the collective unconscious of the media and media consumers would've drifted apart. Now, it's hard to imagine how that could happen. Even if she invented a new identity and moved to a small town in Alaska (which would be a new kind of prison sentence in some ways), it'd be newsworthy.

> I thought she was exaggerating when she complained about people accusing her of being a media whore

Not to pick on you, but why would you reflexively think her to be exaggerating about being called a media whore? People do that with literally everyone whose public complaints become a news story. And what motive would Amanda Knox have in particular? She was labeled an actual whore for the many years when the case was still in active prosecution.

It's not a boolean, it's a threshold. I'm not surprised that anyone ever made that accusation, but I was surprised that it was among the first few comments on HN.

Ignorant people are usually faster; they don't have to think before typing

> She was labeled an actual whore for the many years when the case was still in active prosecution.

Source? I remember it being on TV and don’t remember allegations of prostitution.

She was definitely accused of being a "whore", as in a woman who is not, say, as chaste as people expect her to be. All Italian media informed us that Knox's motive was sex, whatever that is supposed to mean, because she was a maniac with a sex addiction. If I remember correctly, and I may not, the prosecur made some appalling comments about Knox's sexual promiscuity when interviewed for the Netflix documentary.

Corriere della Sera, which is probably the most prestigious Italian newspaper, published this: https://www.corriere.it/cronache/07_novembre_25/amanda_cacci... ("Amanda just wanted sex"/Former partner Elis Prenga: «A hunter of men»./Lumumba: "She made sexual advances to customers").

This played into the Italian stereotype of American women, which are supposedly more sexually active than they are supposed to be, and so immoral but also easier to pick up than local women.

I suspect @danso is just mentioning the -- breathlessly repeated by the italian press -- allegations that Amanda purchased condoms, had sex and -- omg -- had a vibrator.

That's right, I shouldn't have used "actual" (at least I didn't say "literally") — I mean in the colloquial sense of "non-married woman engaging in purportedly non-traditional sexual activity"

Moving from a Western to an Eastern country or vice versa (and using a pseudonym on top) is actually a pretty good way to become near-anonymous, unless you're a Michael Jackson level of celebrity.

Of course, not everyone has the background to be able to smoothly pull that off.

If I were in Amanda Knox's shoes, I would probably be very reluctant to move to any foreign country, especially a foreign country with a judicial system substantially different from the US one.

Undoubtedly, and that’d be in part due to that specific experience having caused PTSD. That doesn’t mean the method doesn’t work for going back to being a private person from being a public figure.

Don’t underestimate how little foreigners matter to others - I suppose that goes both ways!

Your argument sounds a lot like "all you have to do is wipe the slate clean and start life over with a new identity in a foreign country with a new name and no social support".

Is that really what a person should be forced to do in this circumstance?

I’m not making an argument, I’m pointing out one alternative to suicide, which is what a lot of people choose in this situation.

Perhaps you have better solutions, in which case I’d encourage you to share them - you might save a life.

Arguably, at some point in the past, this would have been an obscure story and she'd still be in an Italian jail cell.

I sort of disagree though that someone like her couldn't drop out of the public eye if she wanted to. There are tradeoffs to be sure but it seems pretty possible.

How? Please outline in detail how she should disappear so that I may share this information with the person who needs it.

I didn’t say disappear. But if someone only middling well known changes their name and appearance eg hair, moves, doesn’t go out of their way to call attention to themselves that would put their photo online, stays off social media, etc. they can almost certainly mostly fly under the radar.

10 years later most people have forgotten about Amanda Knox and what she looks like. And if someone goes "Are you Amanda Knox?" you laugh and say you get that a lot.

Again, this isn't disappearing from say law enforcement. But it's avoiding authors, reporters, "fans" of the case, from reaching out.

For a US citizen, the process would be roughly

0) choose a new name with a common first name and a common last name in a combination with many existing people, but preferably no particularly notable celebrities. If your first name is already common, great. Start using that name in situations where you don't need to prove identity (this establishes a common law name change)

a) research name change laws in the 50 states and the territories to determine which states don't require publication or allow for a confidential name change in the relevant circumstances.

b) reside in a state chosen from that list for at least the minimum time

c) go through the procedure to change your legal name to your (new) common law name

d) establish a residency somewhere else

e) open new bank etc accounts in your new legal name and close out old ones

f) if your old name comes up again, say "yeah, people always asked me if I was the famous X, and I didn't want to deal with it"

Maybe cultivate a new style as well.

Where's the part when she gets a new face? Not only is she very well known to the general public, you may have heard of some amazing new technology called "facial recognition".

> But I don't think she has a choice.

Some countries recognize a "right to be forgotten". This is a good example of where such laws can help. She doesn't currently have a choice because many Western countries don't recognize this right. This is something that could change.

Huh? The "right to be forgotten", as it exists in the EU, is specifically about search engine indexing. That would not meaningfully affect someone who would have been an infamous celebrity with or without the Internet.


I wonder if a country with different libel laws would help her? For example, I've heard it's easier to sue for libel in the UK than in the US.

I'm unaware of any jurisdiction outside of the EU (as "Western" as you can get) that has right to be forgotten. Are there any?

It's interesting to me how the truth got lost, and how uninterested people are in the aftermath. The real killer ended up with a sentence almost half the length of what Amanda Knox got. And he is already out of prison. Italy's justice system is very different from the US's, for better or worse.

> Italy's justice system is very different from the US's, for better or worse.

You clearly mean worse based on your previous sentence. Mind shedding some light on those "differences" for the uninitiated?

I do not mean worse. I mean different, with 'better' and 'worse' being subjective. Rudy Guede is 34 years old, out of prison with decades more life to look forward to. After cutting short the life of Meredith Kercher at 21, some people would argue that he should pay with more of his own life, maybe all of it. In the US, obviously, there's a good chance he'd never get out of prison.

Good chance he'd never make it to prison.

The sentence that Knox got was zero, how is it half of 16 years? You can't compare a definitive sentence with one that was overturned.

(Also the real killer got a 1/3rd automatic reduction by accepting summary judgment instead of a full trial).

She was wrongly imprisoned for 4 years. And had to spend 8 years of her life fighting to be free. So, yes, 8 is half of 16. They basically took her 20s from her.

She was convicted and imprisoned for calumny.

Note, from Deadline (): "UPDATE 7/30/21: To Clarify Legal Status Of Amanda Knox. The 2007 case of Amanda Knox, the American convicted in an Italian court of murdering her roommate (after being convicted and spending four years in jail Knox was acquitted and freed in 2011. She was later definitively exonerated by the Italian Supreme Court Of Cassation in March 2015), was the impetus for writer-director Tom McCarthy’s Stillwater, but in the 10 years since beginning, abandoning and starting over, it has evolved into something much more – and much better."

I find it interesting that they mentioned she was convicted twice in a paragraph about her legal status, with the acquitted and exonerated part relegated to a parenthetical. And to have a plug for the movie.

I had similar questions when it came to the film Sully. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sully_(film)

In that film they portray the NTSB investigators as trying to paint the pilot in a bad light during the investigation. According to the folks involved in the investigation, including the pilot, this never happened.

These are real people, they don't have the reach or voice of a movie, what happens when someone decides to portray them unfairly?

Legally I don't think there's anything to be done, there would be too many bizarre second order effects if you simply couldn't portray someone without their permission. At the same time it seems morally questionable to not involve them, specifically if their voice is so much smaller than the medium.

Pretty much every film based on real people and events takes liberties in service of narrative flow and drama. Sometimes one or more of the original parties are involved. Often they're not.

It's one thing to take some liberties to draw the plot forward (like Alan Turing's brother "dying on a ship" in The Imitation Game), it's a whole other thing to portray someone that's alive and young as (at least partially) responsible for a crime they were fully acquitted of.

I'd say that's more of a conspiracy theory realm than artistic liberties realm.

Well the Imitation Game also erased the work of Polish codebreakers, falsely made it so Turing knew Cairncross was a Soviet spy when in real life they probably never even met, and made Denniston into a villain who wanted to destroy Turing's life work when in real life they had a good relationship, made Turing seem like he had Autism, and made up a plot about Clarke getting recruited by being good at crossword puzzles when in reality she got the job from by having excellent references. So I would say there is plenty to criticize at how it misrepresented people.

I can't stand historical dramas, because I feel like watching them is likely to make me less informed about the events they attempt to portray.

"Artistic license" in historical dramas feels very Orwellian to me.

> Pretty much every film based on real people and events takes liberties in service of narrative flow and drama.

Blood on the Blackboard: The Bart Simpson Story


Except they almost never “punch up”.

You don’t have blockbusters fictionalizing “the Trump saga” where he sells state secrets to Putin. Or Ruppert Murdock “Godfather” style fictional drama. Perhaps once they’re long dead, but surely not before.

It’s the Amanda Knox of the world that get the “let’s milk this while it’s fresh” treatment.

You're not aware of Succession?

I’m reading the wiki:

> Succession follows the Roy family, owners of media conglomerate Waystar RoyCo.

Is it based on a true story, and does it officially name any real world person as its inspiration ?

Is Succession supposed to be based on a true story?

It's loosely inspired by Rupert Murdoch but mostly King Lear.

Thanks, so Succession is also one of the movies that touch on powerful people but change the names and declares itself purely fictional as a safeguard against real world repercussions.

To be clear I totally encourage creators to protect themselves and their art. I also wish they took the same care to protect their subjects when they’re in the opposite position of power.

Citizen Kane

It craftly avoids naming the media barrons though. I completely understand why, but it should be noted.

Like GP said: "almost never"

At least that’s just entertainment. Journalism frequently mischaracterizes people and events just to paint a narrative.

>At least that’s just entertainment

I'm not convinced people see it that way, and as far as the director, he seemed to think his 'entertainment' was in fact accurate, or at least said so / was incentivized to do so.

Meanwhile the people who are depicted, you likely wont ever hear from.

I'd argue that entertainment is much more likely to leave a lasting impression on people. Storytelling is far more effective at making people remember something than a well written article. If you were to quiz people about the life of Alexander Hamilton I suspect most people would give answers congruent to the musical and not what actually happened in the history books.

Fortunately I learned this rather early, as in 6th grade some journalist came to our classroom to interview our teacher and us for some story.

I sat close enough to hear our teacher being interviewed, so it came as a shock when I later read the newspaper and saw my teacher being quoted as having said the exact opposite of what she actually said. And this was in one of the top three newspapers in our country.

Probably because of this behavior it was in the top three.

Well, and facts aren't always known with certainty (as in this case) and their interpretation will vary based on who's interpreting.

>this never happened.

This is just Hollywood trying to add drama for the sake of making the story more "interesting". Little thought is given to potential collateral damage to truth. All protected under the umbrella comment "based on true events".

There is a Richard III society, dedicated to rehabilitating the king after his unfortunate portrayal by Shakespeare.

Antonio Salieri should also get one of those. He was a pretty good composer in the scheme of things, and there is no evidence that he ever had anything against Mozart, much less did anything bad to him.

I don't know if this is true but I really want it to be.

Should there be a way to trademark your own name in order to prevent its misuse in creative works? That way, film studios should have to pay a licensing fee to have your name anywhere in the film or its marketing material.

It's strange to think that fictional characters often have more protection and control over the use of their name than real people.

That would quickly be abused to silence critics as well. Imagine if Brock Turner trademarked his name, and went after anyone discussing his story.

Not to mention, your name is not unique. I know of at least 2 other people in the US with the same first and last name as me.

> Imagine if Brock Turner trademarked his name

That's a separate and interesting discussion itself, IMO. On the one hand, how do you have sympathy for someone who does what he did? On the other hand, do we not believe in rehabilitation, redemption, or anything like that? It is getting easier to believe that the mania over Brock Turner has led to a disproportionate response. And to go against the mob is to risk becoming a pariah yourself. When the mob is the size of the Internet, this seems pretty scary.

"Rehabilitation" usually comes after an appropriate criminal punishment being issued and received, not before. That reasonable people think that getting just twelve weeks in jail for his crimes -- which he at no point admitted -- is an offensive undersentencing in no way justifies their description as a "mob".

That is a bit disingenuous. This isn't people thinking that the justice system should have slapped him down harder. This is people who drop into every thread where his name comes up and insist that it should never just be "Brock Turner", but rather "The Convicted Rapist Brock Turner."

Arguably the biggest argument in support of the justice system failing in this case is that it did not deter this kind of vigilante attitude; that is an important part of why the system exists in the first place.

I agree with this. I have no idea if the guy was a terrible person or made a terrible decision in the moment and did what he did. Either way he deserved a punishment greater than he received. With that said he is portrayed in the media and social media as if he is the second coming of Hitler. A ton of people do far worse things and are allowed to continue with their lives after serving their time. If people are not allowed a chance at rehabilitation (within reason, I think some crimes are unforgivable, but not his) then we are a lesser society.

Trademarks can't be used to go after people who mention your mark, only people who use it to promote their own commercial endeavors (and even then, subtle mentions like "compare to X" are generally ok).

If Brock Turner had a trademark, he could use it to block Brock Turner: The Movie, but not us on this forum talking about Brock Turner, convicted rapist.

For a laugh, I set my name as a google alert. I get stories about a meteorologist, a guy who woke up and had lost 20 years of memory, a CEO of a sports media company, some random person with the same name who works as a dog groomer friended me on FB. Really not sure how trademarking that would work out.

You don't own your reputation. That's out of your hands. You can not and should not be able to control what other people think and say about you.

Not even if they are causing you real harm by lying?

Other countries don't allow as much of that as the U.S. does, like the U.K. for example [0]:

> "English laws are much more favorable for someone looking to protect their reputation," says Jenny Afia, a lawyer in London who often represents people making libel and privacy claims.

> In American courts, the burden of proof rests with the person who brings a claim of libel. In British courts, the author or journalist has the burden of proof, and typically loses.

> "So you've got the rich and powerful shutting down and chilling speech which is critical of them," says Stephens.

[0] https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/03/21/394273902/...

Spreading negative implication and opinion about a third party is and should remain protected expression.

Otherwise we quickly approach a world where we can be sued for negative product or service reviews.

> Spreading negative implication and opinion about a third party is and should remain protected expression.

In the U.K. it is. You can publish the truth, and you can publish your opinion. You can't publish lies.

For someone to sue you in the U.K. they need to prove loss, and there are two defences for libel - the truth, and what the solicitors call "fair comment". You can say that your experience of XXX was poor. You can't say XXX is an idiot.

> Otherwise we quickly approach a world where we can be sued for negative product or service reviews.

I grant that is a definitely problem. This gets talked about in the U.K. I can't say I've heard about it as much in the U.S., and to be frank I am a little surprised, as often those with money use the courts to get bully people. Just brainstorming, but maybe that's a big chunk of the problem?

But I can't help thinking about how much the internet has changed everything. Our laws were designed when people actually interacted with each other face to face and there were a handful of printing presses per town. Now everyone has a worldwide printing press in their pocket, and it's all archived on the wayback machine, etc. High stakes stuff, especially if you get on the wrong side of it. Anybody can be arrested, or have the bad luck to be harassed, and that follows you for years on the internet, looking for dates, looking for work, apartments, people at church, your kids friends, etc.

Maybe we could discuss not only what constitutes libel and the burden of proof, but also where we draw the line on private vs public speech. You can say anything to your family and friends in your house, but maybe you shouldn't be allowed to post lies to the global internet. Maybe those are the rules while talking about a normal person who doesn't have a national or global internet presence, but the rules are different talking about a large company who does. Maybe publications are held to higher standards than individuals - they can play by the rules or don't play. Maybe something like dcma take-down notices for libel, so nobody is surprised with a lawsuit. These are just some ideas, more brainstorming.

Admittedly I don't know the judicial history behind lies being defended as free speech in the U.S., but it seems to me there are some interesting things to think about here.

This can't happen. An option like that would conflict directly with freedom of speech and freedom of the press. As much as I hate what happens to people like her, there are far more cases like Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin that need to be put under the spotlight. Don't get me wrong, I hate what happens to people like here that get caught in the crosshairs. This director and company making the movie should be ashamed of themselves for either not dissociating themselves from her story or at the very least working with her and reaching some understanding where they have respect for her story. A lot of people know she was innocent but I would say the majority don't and only followed the story in the beginning.

We probably just need to fix loopholes in slander and libel laws and give common people more power to enforce them without making it a huge financial risk. People realized many many years ago how people's names come be abused and drug through the mud and created a recourse for it.

Changing someone's name just a bit or creating fictional characters you can copyright that everyone knows is a substitution or can find the substitution if they're interested in linking the fictional depiction to the real depiction is just a loophole around slander and libel, which the author points out with Damien Matthews or whatever in the example. Completely legal and now you have artistic freedom to reshape the story however you want. The person with the most resources to fight legally typically wind here.

Throwing some disclaimer line in like "this is no based on actual people or events" or whatever seems to give far too much of a liability waiver. It's really just plain wrong and the author makes a great point about naming an event and agency. Branding is very powerful and can create subconscious links that otherwise shouldn't exist. Naming is a bit tricky though because you often pick an easy memorable name to associate with something. Naming sort of act like a hash map with collision handling in my brain.

When I see Bill Clinton's name or "Clinton" a whole slew of thoughts and memories link to that name or phrase and it can be difficult to determine what someone says. When you say Monica Lewenski's name on the other hand, she acts as a memorable unique identifier to the event, unfairly to her. I know exactly what you're talking about and I know about Bill, power differentials at play, and so on but the name needs to be unique and memorable in language. As the author points out, this naming convenience comes at a cost to those who might get improper associations for responsibility, so it's complicated. I think we should strive for branding that leaves out names where possible. Watergate seems like a great branding job, I immediately know it's Nixon and it doesn't dissolve him of any responsibility. Should the facts change and I read about Watergate later, say it was Deepthroat actually responsible somehow, the name Watergate name still exists and associations of responsibility in the future can change. Abstract your branding to avoid finger pointing.

The libel and slander laws in the U.K. different than in the U.S. [0]:

> "English laws are much more favorable for someone looking to protect their reputation," says Jenny Afia, a lawyer in London who often represents people making libel and privacy claims.

> In American courts, the burden of proof rests with the person who brings a claim of libel. In British courts, the author or journalist has the burden of proof, and typically loses.

> "So you've got the rich and powerful shutting down and chilling speech which is critical of them," says Stephens.

[0] https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/03/21/394273902/...

Non-sarcastic question: suppose I trademark my name and then someone with my name opens an account on a web site, or a resturant, or writes a script. Are they in violation? (It is strange to me that, say, Twitter is a worldwide namespace. We had a resturant in our East Coast US town that had to change its totally-boring name because they were threatened by a West Coast resturant with that name.)

Trademarks are narrow in scope to a particular line of business. If you trademark a restaurant named "Jim's", that means other people cannot open other restaurants named "Jim's", but they could open any other kind of business under the same name.

It’s even stricter than that. Getting a trademark on something as simple as “Jim’s” for a restaurant is near impossible because there are already thousands of restaurants and bars that use that name.

We're saying the same thing. Just swap "you" and "other people" in my comment. The law works the same for everyone.

No, we’re not. I’m pointing out that you can’t even trademark common names even in the scope of a narrow business. You wouldn’t be able to trademark “Jim’s restaurant” at all.

I didn't get the impression the film used her name

The reason she’s mentioned in US media now and then rather than the victim and perpetrator is because she’s American and the public will be interested. In the U.K. newspapers talk about Meredith Kercher.

That doesn’t make it right or excuse the dreadful treatment though. I can’t see how using her name to promote the film isn’t slanderous/libellous.

> In the U.K. newspapers talk about Meredith Kercher.

Maybe sometimes, but Knox's name makes up the vast majority of headlines. Here are just three major UK publications, and see how little Kercher is mentioned in her own search results...

The Independent: https://www.independent.co.uk/topic/meredith-kercher

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/meredithkercher

The Metro: https://metro.co.uk/tag/meredith-kercher/

That must be very hard for Amanda to deal with, her article was surprisingly calm despite the many reasons to be angry about this continued media hype.

Their names will be forever linked so searching for one will bring up stories about the other.

But those articles seem to prove my point - the stories with 'Amanda Knox' in the heading are about Amanda Knox not Meredith Kercher, her murder, or her murderer. The articles in the UK about the Meredith Kercher case don't refer to her has Amanda Knox roommate.

No, the reason was that she is very attractive. That sells advertising. It's as simple as that. Many of the vile things we complain about in media all come down to the business model.

Can't she sue the movie producers of Stillwater? Even if the movie producers didn't officially acknowledge inspiration, Vanity Fair mentions it:

> This new film by director Tom McCarthy, starring Matt Damon, is “loosely based” or “directly inspired by” the “Amanda Knox saga,” as Vanity Fair put it in a for-profit article promoting a for-profit film, neither of which I am affiliated with

There is clearly precedence for this type of lawsuit because of this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_persons_fictitious_disclai...

I think she became a public figure (through no fault of her own, as far as I can tell) and thus would unfortunately likely not be afforded the libel protections of a private citizen.

It’s horrible that you can’t choose not to become a public figure. You have rights which someone else can get rid of by giving you enough attention.

It seems like it shouldn't be so hard to solve, either. Someone should not become a public figure without demonstrating some kind of intent. If they are not pushing a narrative, trying to influence public opinion, etc, then they do not lose protection. We cannot let the defamers be the ones controlling the definition.

It's a balance with freedom of press/speech and like most things there are casualties.

So when some CEO decides they don’t want to be a public figure?

As I understand it, a CEO would generally be a public figure within the scope of what he does as a CEO. Note, though, that in the US, most of what being a public figure affects is the standard for libel (NYT v. Sullivan). Even if you're not a public figure, there's mostly nothing preventing me from writing about you if I want to and truth is pretty much a defense against libel.

Not a lawyer, but from my understanding of libel law, the "public figure" thing isn't the problem. Merely being famous (and famous for being falsely accused!) won't necessarily make you a public figure for libel purposes. But there's another part of the standard: a defendant must knowingly say things that are substantially false. Referring to Ms. Knox as a "convicted murderer" in a news article, for example, is deceptive in context but it is technically correct. She was convicted. And then on the movie side, it's explicitly fiction, and the character does not share her name. So they can claim the defense that any "false" claim is about their invented character, not about her... and by the way, they have lots of first amendment juice for artistic expression.

In the end, you're right. It's a sad story, but she doesn't appear to have legal protection from libel law. The filmmakers should probably be ashamed of themselves, but you don't make a Matt Damon movie without a go-ahead from some high-priced lawyers who know they're in the clear from a liability standpoint. Though, ethics perhaps weren't considered...

No she can't, the story is far too different. It only touches on a few major points of her story but is 90% different, it would never hold up in court and she would be out court costs and probably financially ruined after the trial was over.

Law and Order would have been sued out of business. The "ripped from the headlines" mechanism is a tried and true method for TV procedurals.

You might own your likeness, but you don't own your life story.

The court case is in the public record, they don't use any real names, and they made it clear that it is not meant to be her story, so I would assume they are covered.

I also suspect Dreamworks' lawyers would have briefed the director on what he could and couldn't say in an interview if there was any danger of them getting sued.

Your link explains why that disclaimer is now routinely used.

Made me go look up the tale. I recall part of why the whole thing looked weird was that she said that the owner of the bar where she worked was there when the body was discovered.

That dude, Patrick Lumumba, lost his bar and eventually moved to Poland. He was unhappy about the whole thing since he was only her employer.

She got 3 years for slandering him but says she was pressured into it.

Bloody hell. That’s a warning to not talk during an investigation. Looks like they were going to pin something on her.

> That’s a warning to not talk during an investigation

That's assuming the authorities respect your right to do so. It's not even that clear cut a right in England for example, in that there are cases where not talking to the police can be held against you. Also while the right to an attorney and against self-incrimination is enshrined in the European declaration of Human Rights and enforced by the ECHR, it took dozens of that court's decisions for France to start implementing it in earnest. I don't know about the situation in Italy in that respect but their justice system is usually a fucking mess, like their bridges.

Yeah, I believe it. I don’t trust any results from them. It’s not all Inspector Montalbano there.

i will never stop recommending this video. i've watched it a dozen times, at least: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-7o9xYp7eE&t=1s

Reading this, I can't help but ponder the role of mass media in society. How much of our collective worldview is based on marketability of stories in Hollywood? I don't think the writers on Stillwater had any intrinsic interest in retelling her story unfaithfully, but ultimately they are in the business of modifying the story for maximum market appeal. In this case that sucks for Amanda. An incorrect version of her story has entered the public consciousness as myth and I, like Amanda, imagine that this myth will stop much needed debates about the system that led her to innocently going to prison.

How many of the myths that I believe in, and interpret the world by, have been distorted by market forces? It's a really scary question if I'm honest.

I wasn't familiar with this movie until now. How much does official marketing material mention Amanda Knox? From a quick look up, she doesn't appear to be in the official synopsis on e.g. Rotten Tomatoes.

Because, hypothetical thought experiment here:


Let's say Tom McCarthy had the idea for a screenplay while watching the Amanda Knox trial. He doesn't know, at that point, whether she is guilty or innocent, and it really doesn't matter—the case is just inspiration for a fictional story, which can play out however the author wishes.

So he makes that movie, and it's in production, and one day in an interview a reporter asks "Where did you get the idea for this movie?" Maybe they even ask "This story seems kind of similar to the Amanda Knox case, was that an inspiration?"

At this point, does Tom McCarthy need to lie, or decline to answer? Should he not be allowed to share his creative process with the world?

Or, perhaps he just never should have made the movie in the first place... but that seems wrong, doesn't it? Creatives get inspiration from all sorts of odd places, and I don't want to limit them!


Again, I have no idea if the real situation played out like this at all, and in fact, I'm just going to guess that it was far more egregious. But it's what I was thinking about when reading this piece.

> Or, perhaps he just never should have made the movie in the first place... but that seems wrong, doesn't it? Creatives get inspiration from all sorts of odd places, and I don't want to limit them!

I thing the point of this article is no, that's not wrong. The story was clearly based on Amanda Knox, and making this movie perpetuates the harm that has been done to her. This isn't an exercise of creative freedom, it's an exploitive cash grab.

But it's hard to not get inspiration from the real world, isn't it? How much would the writers have to change before the movie was no longer about Amanda Knox? Would it be sufficient to change her gender? What if it took place in the nineteenth century, or in a Game of Thrones-esque fantasy universe? Or would it all be for naught as soon as a reporter asked the right interview question?

One of the most successful franchises on TV, "Law and Order," at least used to frequently advertise episodes as "ripped from the headlines."

Matt Damon kinda panics when asked (3:00 mark) - https://twitter.com/TODAYshow/status/1392101154650271749

So there is a lot in what you are saying.

They have not shut the idea down though, because they know it means a lot of money. Just like the people asking know it means money for their ratings.

Amanda Knox has made them a lot of money with this article which has blown it up more.

She has also gotten her blog out and now I'm listening to her podcast. It's her only way to profit on all this.

The movie maker is not in wrong. The movie is about a violent Dad as far as I can see. It's the media who's been here the whole time.

The article explains this, that Tom McCarthy mentioned her in a Vanity Fair promotional interview. Nobody said they put it on posters or anything.

But was that the first time Amanda Knox's name had been mentioned in connection with this movie? I guess what I'm wondering is, how did we get to the point where she was mentioned in seemingly every critical review of the film? Is Amanda Knox's name really that powerful?

This is one of those cases where the news cycle and court of public opinion spiraled out of control, never to be corrected. Imagine how surreal and frustrating that must be? And she makes a good point about how these things get named:

Who had the power in the relationship between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky? The president or the intern? It matters what you call a thing. Calling that event the “Lewinsky Scandal” fails to acknowledge the vast power differential, and I’m glad that more people are now referring to it as “the Clinton Affair” which names it after the person with the most agency in that series of events.

I think saying “the Clinton Affair” is not specific enough so the press calling it “Lewinsky Scandal” is more understandable and has nothing to do with agency, I think.

There are multiple Clinton affairs and multiple scandals so any headline using those terms wouldn’t make sense. “Clinton/Lewinsky Scandal” would make more sense and be clear.

It's named after the one who told other people about the relationship. That's about as fair as you can get.

I think the big difference with the Lewinsky scandal is two things: everyone knows who Clinton is, so "the Clinton Affair" is not as precise; and Monica Lewinsky was not an innocent victim.

At least could call it the Clinton Lewinsky affair. Calling it just the Lewinsky affair puts it all on her.

Lewinsky was abused by a man in power. In a corporate environment she could have easily sued. If they would have met in a bar then the situation would have been different. You are incorrect.

From what I remember about her (and that was 20 years ago), it seems to me she wouldn't have necessarily considered herself abused or victimized without the media and political circus that followed.

It really doesn't matter what she thought in context of the situation. The fact remains her boss, the President of the United States of America, the most powerful person on the planet, used his position on his employee to get sex.

You weren't there. You can barely claim having a 3rd hand account of the situation. You're a fool who forms strong opinions around assumptions and political spin. You are incorrect.

I actually can claim what I said because of the facts of the case. No one can deny she was his intern, no one can deny that he was the President, no one can deny that he shouldn't have done it given his position of power over her future. You are the one who is incorrect.

You said: "Lewinsky was abused".

"she was his intern" does not mean "was abused".

"he was the President" does not mean "was abused".

"he shouldn't have done it given his position of power over her future" does not mean "was abused".

If you have a specific claim as to why you think Lewinsky was abused, perhaps you should state that claim. (Of course, you don't actually have one.)

What was she guilty of?

Adultery? History tends to always blame the woman and shrugs at the man even though it takes two to tango.

Lewinsky has never been married. Clinton was the adulterer.

Depends on who is defining the term, and in case of law, jurisdiction. Some places define both parties as guilty of adultery. Some only do so contingent on whether it was the man that was married, or the woman (e.g. Utah).

Morally, it is fairly unambiguous. If the unmarried partner knew they were banging a married person, they are just as responsible.

> Morally, it is fairly unambiguous. If the unmarried partner knew they were banging a married person, they are just as responsible.

Perhaps that's your moral view, but it does not represent everyone else's morals, so I don't know why you're claiming it to be "unambiguous". There's plenty of people who would say that the unmarried person in an affair shares less of the blame than the married person in the affair. For starters, the married person breaks a contract, whereas the unmarried person does not have a contract to break.

> but it does not represent everyone else's morals

Yes, I'm sure you can find at least one person who doesn't agree. Maybe yourself. But how much do you want to bet that if you asked this question to 100 people, better than 90 of them would agree?

> For starters, the married person breaks a contract, whereas the unmarried person does not have a contract to break

I said moral, not legal. A few people only define right & wrong based on what they can legally get away with, I understand.

> But how much do you want to bet that if you asked this question to 100 people, better than 90 of them would agree

I would guess that more than 50 of those 100 people would agree with me that the married person shares more of the blame than the unmarried person.

Anyway, even if you're somehow better than me at guessing what other people think about moral questions, to the point where so much as 90% of people agree with you on this one, is that "unambiguous" in your mind? I would think "unambiguous" is something like 99,99% or more.

> I said moral, not legal.

I was also referring to a moral contract, not a legal one. Most people who are in a marriage have an agreement between each other that they shall not mess with other people (not a legally enforceable contract, but an agreement nonetheless). If you dedicate yourself to one person, and then you go and betray them behind their back, you're breaking a certain moral code. That's my opinion. If you think that the married and the unmarried person share equal blame, I guess you don't see anything wrong with breaking that contract? If committing adultery is just as bad as committing adultery PLUS breaking a contract, then clearly in your mind breaking a contract is not bad?

Is the direct connection actually explicit in the film somehow? (e.g. "based on the Amanda Knox saga") My impression, not having seen the film, is not.

Usually, when there's a fictionalized novel/film based on a real world person (well, outside of someone really famous like JFK), it's usually obvious to everyone and all the reviews will mention it but the work will often explicitly disclaim any connection to actual people and events. Not much anyone can or should be able to do about that.

This reminds me of the situation with Takedown / Track Down[1]. That movie was riddled with factual inaccuracies, especially ones slanted towards making Kevin Mitnick look bad and ones meant to glorify Tsutomu Shimomura. As I recall, there was a scene that featured a chase through the streets of Seattle between the two men, it may have even featured a physical tussle between them, but my memory is a bit fuzzy now. Anyway, in reality, at the point in time depicted there, the two had never even met, much less participated in a foot chase / scuffle on the streets of Seattle.

I think Mitnick ultimately sued and got a settlement of some sort, FWIW.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Track_Down

Everyone just trying to make money off of her story is very sad. Both her courage to fight, and put things into perspective in such an eloquent way is inspiring.

I wonder if the news outlets doing paid promotions using her name will ever respond with an apology, or a follow up post.


I don't think anyone has, or would ever, use the expression you created, but the article describes why this bothers her: "Not a great adjective to have placed next to your name. Repeat something often enough, and people believe it."

I for one wouldn't like something to be described as "the sordid <my name> saga" if I was innocent.


What do you think Sordid describes in that title? If you thought “9/11”, you thought wrong.

Let’s try this a different way. If you read “the unjust Amanda Knox scandal”, would you think Amanda Knox is unjust?

This instantly reminded me of OJ Simpson's trials and acquittal. What makes this so believable, at least here on HN? Because she's a young beautiful woman and not a scary black man? I hope people here , which is one of the more rational communities out there, would stop applying double standards. Maybe she is an eloquent writer, but why should rhetoric (or looks) be the determining factor when it comes to public empathy? #metoo and #blacklivesmatter both happened but I'm yet to see black people being judged less harshly and trusted by the public.

Is this comment in good faith, or are you needlessly playing Devil's Advocate?

There are very few similarities in their cases other than the fact that they were both tried for Murder.

- OJ was never convicted, he was acquitted outright. Amanda Knox was convicted. And only acquitted after appeals 4 years later.

- OJ did not get charged in a foreign country, in which local police and courts failed to provide due process. In fact, he received arguably the best legal defense in the country.

- OJ released a book afterwards - "if I DID IT: Confessions of the Killer" describing the murder in great detail. I mean, you've seen the book cover, right? https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/4/4f/If_I_di...

I'm really stumped by this comment. OJ got off, and essentially bragged about it. How is there any similarity here?

> why should rhetoric (or looks) be the determining factor when it comes to public empathy? #metoo and #blacklivesmatter both happened but I'm yet to see black people being judged less harshly and trusted by the public.

I think you're massively conflating these two topics. There's a real discussion to be had on race dynamics and conflict in relation to public sentiment, but it's a real stretch to say that's at play here unless you have a better example than OJ.

One nuanced clarification: OJ didn't pick the title of the book. His murdered wife's family sued him claiming that the outcome of the civil lawsuit he previously lost prevents him from profiting from the case, won, and took over release of the book.

They get all the profits of the book, and crucially they chose the book cover and the font selection.

OJ as far as I know never bragged about getting away with murder, though I will grant the book concept is incredibly poor taste even if he was innocent.

Perhaps because she didn’t lose a civil case on the same manner and they actually caught the real killer? OJ probably would have gotten more sympathy if there was some kind of viable alternative story.

Good luck Mikrowe

Crazy that she cannot she the bejeezus out of Matt Damon over this. This is awful.

From law's viewpoint, you don't own your face and your fingerprints. The police can force you to unlock your devices via face or fingerprint recognition, or can do it itself by force against your will, but can't force you to unlock via passcode (which is in your head).

Not quite, it's a little murkier:


(But since that Israeli company is selling iPhone hacking kits, locks probably don't matter anymore.)

Not that simple. From the law’s viewpoint you own your car or house, but there are legal ways of compelling you to do certain things with it, or even surrendering it.

This falls into the same category as France asserting control over the use of the word 'Champagne'.

People use words. People talk about events and other people. It's part of being alive.

Not at all the same. Food labelling laws are a consumer protection.

I'm doing a search now for hospital visits by people who accidentally drank wine that was mislabeled as champagne.

There are plenty of consumer protections that have nothing to do with safety. Many countries have origin labelling requirements for a lot of goods, and they rarely were predicated on safety. Misrepresentation doesn't have to physically harm people to be bad.

Protections that have nothing to do with safety. Hmm...

Yes, there are many of these protections in every country on the planet. Governments also often protect people from, for example, financial harms.

Note that she is mad she is not making money from the movie, not that her name is associated with the event: https://twitter.com/amandaknox/status/1418628570453200897

Even if it were true, should the producers throw some money her way? It sounds like the right thing to do, doesn't it?

No? She didn’t help make it.

I see no indication of what you're claiming in that tweet or her replies to it.

Terrible what happened to her but truth is she is a public figure and has not avoided the limelight either. (Not that that matters with my argument but will mention). She is fair game for any creative pursuit (song, movie, book, news article, blog post) and nobody owes her any courtesy to reach out they can if they want.

Imagine if you wrote randomly to Amanda Knox vs. some other non well known person. Generally you would not expect to get a reply from Amanda (who probably has all sorts or randos and non randos (ie random person) reaching out) but a well written letter to a non famous (or notorious) person you'd probably get a reply.

Nobody owes her anything just like she is not obligated to anyone as similar to the rest of us. She doesn't get any special courtesy because of what happened to her just another regular person at this point.

This reminds me of how a good looking man or women often is. They reject people all the time but when they get rejected they get all indignant that they were not treated with respect.

The answer to the literal question is simple. Other people use your name, not you, so the name belongs to other people. Render unto Caesar, etc.

Your name refers to, not your identity (whatever that is), but the idea of you in the heads of other people.

I feel like your answer not only ignores the entire premise of the article but also throws fuel on the power differential fire discussed within.

He’s providing the unavoidable answer that the author feels is unfair - your reputation doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to everyone else.

She believes it’s unfair because powerful people are able shape hers. I suppose the alternative is to have our reputation determined by unbiased Facebook factcheckers.

So are you against all defamation lawsuits? This is more or less just an extension of that train of thought: people deserve to not have their reputation ruined unfairly by powerful structures. There's a big difference between gossip of people you know and a Hollywood movie.

This movie isn’t defamation. It doesn’t paint her as a murderer.

It paints her as dreaming of murdering her and asking a friend to "take care of her"

By that logic trademarks should not exist

Trademarks exist to protect against consumer confusion (intentional or not), nothing else.

In this case, the name of a person is used to refer to the events which happened to that person and the related media circus. Is this confusing to anybody? No.

Might I suggest you make an actual attempt to wrestle with the issues the article presents.

The name of this person is being used to refer to a fictional story. The events as depicted did not occur. It's absolutely confusing.

In this case, the consumer is being confused into thinking the film is about Amanda Knox, which it isn't (according to the producer). So the marketing is deceptive, or the producer is being deceitful.

Either way, if Amanda had had a trademark on her name, she could have sued, I suppose.

I'm not keen on the idea of trademarking ones own name though. I don't envisage many poor people bringing suit for wrongful use of their name. It would be used by rich people to intimidate reporters, and we'd all end up worse-informed.

I think Amanda's complaint about the film and its promotion are valid, and I definitely think she should have been involved in the production. I think the producers should immediately start negotiating compensation with her, as a matter of goodwill.

> In this case, the consumer is being confused into thinking the film is about Amanda Knox

Are they? As I understand it, the name was not used in marketing, only mentioned once in an interview about where the story inspiration came from.

Additionally, trademarked names are made up by the trademark owner (or by people they pay). Your name is made up by your parents/guardians, and you generally have no say in it.

Your default name is the one you get from your parents, but there are all sorts of personal or professional reasons to change it, and it used to be standard for women to change their names at least once in a lifetime.

I changed my last name when I got married. Does that mean that I own my last name but not my first name (which has been unchanged since birth)?

Right. You own it, but your spouse doesn't.

My spouse also changed their name, so I don't think there's be any difference in ownership.

This reminds me of identity in Secure-Scuttlebutt. It’s my favorite naming system.

Basically you’re just an unpronounceable identity. Other people give you names. Different people call you different things.

After all, when you’re born, you’re just given a name.

What is Elton John's name and who owns it?

This can actually be a somewhat complicated issue when businesses are involved. When a family name is trademarked as part of a business, a different family member can sometimes be prevented from using their family name in a competing business, e.g. https://www.bullyhillvineyards.com/about/heritage

Reminds me of the artist formerly known as Prince. We need a Prince symbol emoji.

A recursive signatory deriving root ID Rights + data use under control of people directly fixes this.. a process that repeats is a requirement to prevent second-class process from deriving system outcomes no longer produced "of, by, for" people, Individuals All, as root dependency of accurate governance in a civil Society. Recursive Signatory: https://www.moxytongue.com/2021/07/recursive-signatory.html

This reads like some kind of Sovereign Citizen / Time Cube babble.

Then you didn't read, and/or don't understand recursive idea.. a process that repeats. CS didn't come into existence until 1950's, so lack of process integrity for digital ID/Data Rights shouldn't be surprising, but structure yields results, not literature. Might want to get out of mass media rags too.. "Sovereign Citizen" is anarchistic, this is about structural integrity of a civil Society using accurate administrative precedence. Functional literacy required.. research "Self-Sovereign Identity" for more..

This is getting more Time Cube by the comment.

Yes I live in the EU where we have SSI, I was more referring to all the magical and fuzzy thinking surrounding it on that page.

Ah, EU.. SSI is American concept.. recursive signatory is too, represents data structure "of, by, for" people. Foreign concepts in EU don't quite translate same in that admin context. Regardless EU efforts remain in tact, as Human Rights don't come from database.. thus EU chasing SSI accuracy.

Also, no "we" in SSI.. only people, Individuals all. "We" is a literary concept that doesn't exist in nature, regardless of legal abstractions, lazy thinking, and data aggregation. I realize EU brains struggle with that.


I'm italian and I remember very well the shitshow that followed the tragedy. When a case has no clear ending, and the press has already issued its weekly verdicts, noone comes out fully innocent and in that moment justice has failed.

I'm surprised to read her name for the second time in two weeks, now even here on hn.

Just a week ago, out of the blue, even if people had rightfully forgotten her...


She has all the rights to tweet everything she wants, but that's not the best way to go under the radar.

I'm convinced that, when there's the will, the world is big enough for anyone to disappear and get a new life.

I'm confused: are you taking into account the existence of this movie? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stillwater_(film)

It's one of the points of the article. You really, really should take that into account before saying something like

> I'm convinced that, when there's the will, the world is big enough for anyone to disappear and get a new life.

and blame her tweets for the attention she gets.

I don't know how much of the movie is relatable to her story, I guess I'll have to watch it... For what I know the tweet and most of all the article (which has spread at the speed of light from major online tabloids to every local news site) could even be a publicity stunt to generate hype around the movie itself. Who knows? Given the recent state of the media, everything is possible. And I'm very skeptic by nature.

But let's get back to why for me is a lost battle. Look at the replies under her tweet, most people outside the US have made up in their minds a clear idea of what she is, she's guilty, they condemn her, no matter what the final sentence stated. I respect the sentence and consider her a victim too. But life is too short to try to change people's minds, or to fight against a movie "loosely based" on your tragic past. Maybe people wouldn't even noticed the correlation with her case (but again, I haven't seen the movie, I don't know how much evident is). I'm sure it's hard to live with those memories, but she has the means for a complete exit from the scene, people will forget, and a movie based on your life won't be profitable anymore.

> but that's not the best way to go under the radar

Assuming she wants to. She seems to want to try and profit from this as much as she can.

It seems no one will state the truth, she's not neurotypical.

As such her behaviour, is complicated. Which is how all this happened.

It's unfair you're downvoted because without saying this, for her to joke about the death of her flatmate on Twitter is as immoral as what she is accusing others of.

Oh please, she was an accused murderer. There was no sure proof she did it, nor that she was innocent, so she was cleared. Notably she lied in court several times.

She benefitted from the media attention to make money for herself and she is now publishing an essay she was not asked to do in which she tries to make many moral "who is the victim" points (of course claiming she is the victim).

You could argue she should have been granted anonymity but I cannot see her as a helpless victim.

> Oh please, she was an accused murderer. There was no sure proof she did it, nor that she was innocent, so she was cleared

From the Economist:


> The Court of Cassation in Rome found Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito not guilty on the grounds that they had “not committed the act”. Italian law recognises different levels of acquittal; this is the most categorical.

> There was no sure proof she did it

Exactly. And yet she was treated as one by the media and justice system. She even spent time in prison for it. Even though there was no proof she did it.

> nor that she was innocent

There's no proof that you're innocent either, maybe you did it and should spend a few years in prison until later acquitted? Absence of proof of innocence does NOT imply guilt.

> of course claiming she is the victim

She was a victim. Not the same as the murder victim, but she got her reputation ruined, had her family go into debt trying to pay legal fees and SPENT YEARS IN PRISON. For something that there was no evidence she did, was evidence someone else did (who by the way got less time than she got, before she was acquitted), and for which she was eventually found innocent of and acquitted for.

Maybe develop some empathy.

>she is now publishing an essay she was not asked to do in which she tries to make many moral "who is the victim" points (of course claiming she is the victim)

So? Is that a bad thing?

I think some people believe you shouldn't fight back when you're tried and convicted in the court of public opinion even if you are proven innocent in actual court. That you should just roll over and die so their suppositions aren't challenged. It reflects and extremely weak stance and lack of confidence in your own take on the situation.

She was accused of murder, but in the end explicitly cleared by the Supreme Court as innocent.

She's not claiming she's the victim. She was a victim of a miscarriage of justice, and continues to have the story retold as though she was guilty. You're trying pretty hard to misinterpret this fairly straightforward situation.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact