Monthly Archives: May 2013

How a Fake Restaurant Review on Yelp Backfired

W. Blake Gray is a food writer for the SFWeekly. He was informed about a review of Tuba restaurant on Yelp, written by a Maya C. In her review, she claims to be working for the SF.

She wrote: “This place totally rocks! The food blows your mind away. I also write for SF weekly and I definitely am writing about them this week.”

But there is one major problem – she never wrote for SF! As the food editor stated, he knows all the writers and what they are and aren’t assigned to do. However, he never heard of “Maya C.”!

Blake Gray set out to correct the “mistake” – easier said than done. Yelp isn’t easy to deal with, as he found out to his readers’ amusement.

He started by sending Ms. Fakester a message:

“I am the food editor at SF Weekly. Who are you? We don’t have a Maya C. working for us right now. Please explain why you cite us in your review of Tuba.”

Maya C, sent the following response (to avoid legal action?):

“sf weekly voice, I will fix it. I am very very sorry to cite your name, I haven’t checked my reviews since
“.

Needless to say, she never did. Yelp also took the moral low ground:

yelp550

SF Weekly is obviously worried about its credibility, while Yelp could not care less.

In the mean time, just ignore the A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! fake review of Tuba – it’s as real as a three dollar note. If you still want to go to Tuba, I have a bridge I want to sell you…..

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William Shakespeare – Lauded Playwright, Ruthless Businessman and Tax Evader

shakespeare-4William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is famous for being one of the greatest playwrights of all times. But as it turns out, he was also a ruthless businessman.

According to the scientific research of Jayne Archer (a researcher in Renaissance literature at Aberystwyth University) and Richard Marggraf Turley (professor of Engagement with the Public Imagination at Aberystwyth University), Shakespeare was a cunning and quite unscrupulous business man. According to their research paper, by “combining both illegal and legal activities, Shakespeare was able to retire in 1613 as the largest property owner in his home town.”

The researchers go on to state that the Bard “stored grain, malt and barley for resale at inflated prices to neighbors and local tradesmen.” He obviously profited from the famines that swept through Europe at the time. He used his profits to purchase land.

Shakespeare also did anything he could to “avoid taxes, maximize profits at others’ expense and exploit the vulnerable – while writing plays about their plight.” s one of the biggest landowners in Warwickshire, he was ideally placed to push prices up and then sell at the top of the market.

This puts Coriolanus in a whole new light! To refresh your memory, Shakespeare’s play Coriolanus evolves around a famine that is created and exploited by rich merchants and politicians to maximize the price of food. One of the famous and much quoted lines: “They ne’er cared for us yet: suffer us to famish, and their store-houses crammed with grain.” Oh, the irony!

The researchers found documents in court and tax archives that show that Shakespeare was repeatedly dragged into court for his illegal activities and tax evasion. He was fined for illegally stockpiling food and was threatened with jail for evading tax payments.

His legal troubles did not end there. In February 1598, he was prosecuted for holding 80 bushels of malt or corn during a time of shortage. He pursued those who could not pay him in full for these staples and used the profits to further his own money-lending activities.

In all fairness, Shakespeare could not rely on future income from his works. Copyright was only established in 1710, long after Shakespeare penned his plays and poems.  Anyone could therefore copy and sell his work without his consent – and they did!

In case you want to know more, Jayne Archer will present more finding on May 23 at the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts in Wales.

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Harper Lee Sues Her Agent Samuel Pinkus Over ‘Mockingbird’ Royalties

to-kill-a-mockingbird-movieFor those of you who don’t know – Harper Lee is the author of one of my favorites – To Kill a Mockingbird which was published in 1960. The novel is set in the racial South and won a Pulitzer Prize. It was also turned into a compelling movie featuring the legendary Gregory Peck who won an Oscar for his portrayal of lawyer Atticus Finch.

Harper Lee is still alive, at the ripe age of 87. Ms. Lee has failing eyesight and hearing. She resides in an assisted-living facility since 2007 after suffering a stroke.

Harper Lee engages McIntosh & Otis as her literary agent for many years. When Eugene Winick,one of the principles at the firm became ill in 2002, his son-in-law Mr. Samuel Pinkus took over. Pinkus was sued by McIntosh for stealing several clients, including Ms. Lee.

In 2007, Ms. Lee signed a document assigning her copyright to her agent’s company. The idea was that her agent, Mr. Samuel Pinkus, would act on her behalf.

Once Harper Lee found out that her agent took advantage of her advanced age and infirmity to swindle her out of royalties due to her. She promptly sued at the federal court in New York. ( Lee v. Pinkus, 13-3000, U.S. District Court, U.S. Bankruptcy Court,Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Samuel Pinkus et al are sued to confirm Harper Lee’s copyright ownership of “To Kill a Mockingbird”.  In her suit, she asks that all commissions received by Pinkus will be forfeited.

Last year, Lee’s copyright was re-assigned to her after legal action. Samuel Pinkus was fired as her agent. However, he kept receiving royalties from sales of “To Kill a Mockingbird” as detailed  in the legal complaint.

According to Harper Lee’s lawyer Ms. Gloria Phares: “Pinkus knew that Harper Lee was an elderly woman with physical infirmities that made it difficult for her to read and see.  Harper Lee had no idea she had assigned her copyright.”

The defendats, Samuel Pinkus and his wife Ann Winick did not respond. Ms. Winick is the president of Keystone Literary LLC and listed as a defendant. Another named defendant, Gerald Posner, also did not respond. Mr. Posner is a New York lawyer and investigative journalist who incorporated one of Pinkus’s businesses.

Ms. Lee wrote an amazing novel that inspired generations. Taking advantage of her is just obnoxious. Let’s hope that the court sees it the same way.

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