Time-Warner Cashes in with Anonymous Masks

By Chris Roberts
|  Monday, Aug 29, 2011  |  Updated 11:55 AM PDT
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Time-Warner Cashes in with Anonymous Masks

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This English protestor has something in common with the Californians who also wear his mask: they're lining the pockets of Time Warner, which owns the rights to the iconic mask.

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The #OpBART protests organized by the shadowy, fluidly-organized Anonymous "hacktivist" group doesn't just mean chaos for BART commuters and overtime pay for BART police officers.

It means a big cash-in and payout for big corporation Time-Warner, which owns the rights to the iconic masks worn by Anonymous members in public.

The masks -- ostensibly a visage of 17th-century English revolutionary Guy Fawkes, as interpreted by artist Alan Moore in his graphic novel "V for Vendetta," popularized in a 2006 feature film -- are sole intellectual property of Time Warner, one of the world's biggest media companies, according to the New York Times.

What's more, far from a symbol of protest or dissent, the masks, which retail for $6 (a portion of which goes directly into Time Warner's coffers) are made overseas, probably in China, according to the newspaper.

The masks have been sold since the film was released in 2006, but didn't become vogue for Anonymous until 2008, when the hactivist group chose the masks for their face coverings during protests of the Church of Scientology, according to experts.

That's when costume shops like Rubie's Costume in New York City began selling 100,000 of the masks every year, according to the newspaper. By contrast, other masks sell only 5,000 or so a year.

Warner Brothers, the film subsidiary of Time Warner which owns the copyright, did not respond to a request for comment on its property as a symbol of online protest and shutting down San Francisco Bay Area transit systems. But it will keep cashing the checks, so keep the masks coming.

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