quasi in rem

Thursday, June 24, 2004

'Fahrenheit 9/11' ads alleged to run afoul of numerous laws...

The Hill reports that due to the campaign related message of the film, "Michael Moore may be prevented from advertising his controversial new movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” on television or radio after July 30 if the Federal Election Commission (FEC) today accepts the legal advice of its general counsel.

At the same time, a Republican-allied 527 soft-money group is preparing to file a complaint against Moore’s film with the FEC for violating campaign-finance law."

The real controversy is this:

On every single ad I have seen for the movie, the trailer ends with the phrase, "This film is not yet rated."

Which is untrue.

It is potentially fraudulent advertising.

The MPAA ruled last week that he film would be rated R. Moore appealed that ruling, but I do not believe that that appeal necessarily enjoined that rating from going into effect in any way shape or form. At least fro the purposes of the advertising. The movie had been rated. And rated as an "R".

Even if it did somehow enjoin the rating, which I doubt, the MPAA then affirmed the ruling earlier this week.

And yet just last night I saw two ads that claimed that the film was not yet rated.

This is a complete falsehood perpetrated by Mr. Moore. It will lead to consumers who are not allowed to see the movie to attempt to see the movie. Moore disagrees with the ruling and so he is continuing to allow the media to run the fraudulent advertisements despite the blatant falsehood.

Generally, any advertising which is misleading in any material respect is considered to be false advertising. An advertisement is considered misleading if it fails to disclose facts which are important in light of what is stated in the advertisement, or facts which are relevant in the light of the customary use of the product.

In this case, the rating is highly important in a consumers use of the product. This is even worse than running a fraudulent movie review of the film, which has also been done, becuase the MPAA is considered to be an independent third body.

Consumers who have suffered damages from a business’ use of false advertising are entitled to file a civil suit for recovery. Generally speaking. state attorney generals are also allowed to sue for false advertisement on behalf of the state.

It is even possible to get criminal penalties in some states for false advertising.

Moore does not care.

Update:

It is possible that the movie could be advertised as unrated, as reported by Reuters.

"'Fahrenheit' marketing materials so far have used the wording 'this film is not yet rated.' If the appeal does not go 'Fahrenheit's' way, the film's distribution troika (Fellowship Adventure Gruop) could in theory roll it out as unrated because none of the parties are MPAA signatories. However, they see a PG-13 rating as an important strategy in aiming for the widest possible audience. "


Also, there is an important monetary issue here that is also propelling Moore above any idealogical concerns he may have.

"Ortenberg admitted it would be "impossible to quantify" any box office loss from the film's being stamped with an R rating, but he figured it could take away up to 20% of the film's revenue.

So there you have it. Last night I saw an ad for Moore's movie, which was factually innacurate in order to drive ticket sales. Sounds like an open and shut case to me.

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