$27 million award affirmed in bogus film deal

220px-Stevekaplan2010Five years after striking two deals valued at the time at $300 million to finance 10 films to be made with his company Rainstorm,  Steven G. Kaplan has won a California appellate decision affirming a private arbitrator’s $27-million award to him after his big plans with foreign investor Fortnom fell through. It turns out that Fortnom didn’t exist and Kaplan since has pursued the duo who represented the firm, Anthony Lombard-Knight and Jakob Kinde. (more…)

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In conversation: Film industry’s IP watchdog

dean marksOne of the movie industry’s top intellectual property watchdogs on Monday will join in Southwestern Law School’s  “Conversation With …” program: Dean Marks, executive vice president, deputy general counsel and chief of global content protection at the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) will chat about an array of topics in the 7:30 p.m. program with Steve Krone, director of the Donald E. Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute.

“Dean is one of the leading U.S. and international copyright experts in the entertainment industry, ” Professor Krone said. “In his work at the MPAA spearheading all content protection, I’m sure he’s bringing his deep knowledge to bear, along with his refreshingly pragmatic approach.” (more…)

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Three’s company? Make room for dark parody

threes company pix3CA cheery, chipper, Seventies sit-com that turned on a naughty-cute lifestyle-linked plot  has, in its own fashion, allowed a federal district court in Manhattan to hand down a copyright infringment decision with its own twist.

Based on a Rule 12(c) motion, Loretta A. Preska, chief judge in the Southern District Court of New York, has found that playwright David Adjmi‘s dark, off-Broadway work, 3Cwas non-infringing of the copyright held by DTL Entertainment for the popular television farce Three’s Company, which starred the late John Ritter, actresses Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt, (shown in right photo) and the late comedy legend Don Knotts. (more…)

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Court harpoons ‘Shark’s bid for ‘safe harbor’

Grooveshark could not groove it way out of a recent New York federal district court decision granting EMI summary judgment against the music streaming service operated by Escape Media group. The court found Grooveshark liable for copyright infringement and unable to claim safe harbor protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

In the latest case development, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan adopted the report and recommendation of U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn. Her recommendations included: 1) granting EMI music’s motion for summary judgment on its infringement claim and the exception of its claim for direct infringement of its right of reproduction and 2) granting summary judgment to EMI on Escape’s affirmative defense under the DMCA. (more…)

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Privacy event to address celebrity issues, rights

Neville_L_Johnson_JJLLPLAW_2015DroozDeborahGary_BostwickProminent scholars, lawyers and government officials will gather on April 17 at Southwestern for the Second Annual Online Privacy Conference, presented by the law school’s Donald E. Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute. Participants will explore a spectrum of privacy issues, including, notably for Entertainment Law practitioners, a session on  Celebrity and Privacy/Publicity Rights. (more…)

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Appellate court revives suit over Talent Act

imagesWhile the curtain seemed to have fallen on the battle over the California Labor Commission’s Talent Agency Act, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has decided this dispute will play on. This case seemed to be all but over two years ago when U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson granted the state’s motion to dismiss the claim brought by the National Conference of Personal Managers. The group, claiming the law is unfair to members’ interests, bitterly has contested the Golden State statute that has left many lawyers and others in the entertainment industry uncertain what they can and cannot do in representing talent. The appellate court, in its review, said Pregerson may have dismissed the claim on the merits but he did not establish whether his court held jurisdiction to do so. It’s worth noting that the judge addressed jurisdiction in the original ruling, stating the “court declined to resolve the issue fully, finding that the motion should be granted on its merits…” The appellate court, however, remanded, saying the lower court had an “independent obligation to determine jurisdiction before addressing the merits of the case.”

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Uncle Sam adds new tactic to ‘notorious’ list

The U.S. Trade Representative recently released its annual Notorious Market List, which calls out markets where the infringing of intellectual property is most problematic and where markets themselves enable “substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting.” While pinpointing China, Russia, Argentina and India as hotbeds of IP infringement, Uncle Sam also listed nations like Mexico and Thailand where “IPR holders face a difficult environment due to the large number of markets offering counterfeit and pirated goods and services, and a relative lack of enforcement.”

Although the trade rep’s work up to now primarily has focused on online and offline markets where infringing goods proliferate, the latest USTR list for the first time also identifies domain-name registrars that American officials deem of concern. The USTR hopes to hold internet registrars accountable for  infringement by its users and says these services are “playing a role in supporting counterfeiting and piracy online.” As a domestic legal tactic to crackdown on IP infringement, such a move hasn’t gone over well–and such a move may not play well across the Atlantic or Pacific, either.

(more…)

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Walmart rears up against cartoonist’s site

When a cartoonist decides to horse around, must a mammoth corporation react as if an online site is a horse of a different color, and whinny to the jest, nay, nay, neigh? With the Entertainment industry seeking to protect its intellectual property, especially in response to lucrative merchandising issues, it’s worth seeing that copyright and trademark issues create legal issues for other enterprises, too–and that the cyber chatter can be just as robust over the online world’s perception that corporations may feel their oats too much and might consider a wee bit more horse sense about aggressive protection of brand.

Today’s publicity-attracting incident involves Walmart, from which Jeph Jacques, creator of the comic strip Questionable Content, received a recent cease and desist letter  after he launched his Walmart.horse website via the Tumblr photo-sharing and blogging software.

Jacques insists his is a protectable fair use of Walmart’s trademark. In the C&D notice, Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, says the site, among other mark infringement claims, particularly “weakens the ability of the Walmart mark and domain name to identify a single source… [and] tarnishes the goodwill and reputation of Walmart’s products, services, and trademarks.”

What legal issues will prevail, so one of these conflicting parties happily and triumphantly rides off into the sunset?

(more…)

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What happens in audits of movie, TV deals?

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Knowledge. Experience. Background. And relationships. These qualities and capacities make a world of difference for third-party profit participants who turn to experts to scrutinize the books of the entertainment industry to ensure everything adds up and they’re receiving their fair share, according to Steven Sills, an accountant, Southwestern Law School graduate, and partner and renowned motion picture and TV audit expert at Green Hasson Janks .

Sills, with more than three decades of entertainment accounting experience and having done myriad audits with studios and distributors, walked an audience at Southwestern Law school through his work as part of the “Conversation With” speaker series with Professor Steve Krone, director of the Biederman Institute.

(more…)

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Court says arrivederci to La Dolce Vita case

ladolceIf there ever was a sweet life to a long-running lawsuit over a legendary film icon, a federal judge in Los Angeles has said basta finito to it: U.S. District Judge S. James Otero  recently granted Paramount and Melange Pictures  summary judgment  against International Media Films Inc. (a tip of the hat to Courthouse News for posting the court notes on the case). IMF had failed to reply to the latest moves in contentious claims over director Federico Fellini’s famed La Dolce Vita, a 1960 narrative of a journalist’s week in Rome. (more…)

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