The BlackEyed Peas’ big hit I Gotta Feeling did not infringe on copyrights for the dance version of Take a Dive, because the latter’s song writer, Bryan Pringle, failed to prove that (1) Peas had access to his work and (2) that the two songs are substantially similar, the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled, upholding the findings of a lower court, which thanks to EntLawDigest, can be read here.) The lower court had rebuked the plaintiff and counsel over how crucial case evidence got handled — or mishandled. Read the rest of this entry »
Kimberly Meyers, a middle-aged mother of three, went to hear live music at a Philadelphia club and did not know that Fishbone, a punk-funk-ska band, would be performing. She was standing in the audience, when suddenly, to her surprise, band members hurled themselves from the stage and into the crowd. Meyers was flattened. Her skull and collarbone were shattered, her eardrum ruptured. The band played on as she was taken by ambulance for emergency care. She since has undergone three surgeries and is expected to undergo more because of her continuing pain, loss of motion, cognitive loss and subsequent development of both lupus and arthritis. And, in a later deposition, what did the musician who slammed into her have to say? “[W]hen you’re performing, . . . you don’t want to have anything stepping in your way of — of you expressing your true feelings and your true art . . . .” remarked Fishbone frontman Angelo Moore.
U.S. District Judge Jan DuBois recently had her say about the indie band’s antics and the dangers of the practice known as stage diving, issuing a default judgment against Moore and John Norwood Fisher, Fishbone’s bassist. The court awarded Meyers $1.1 million in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages solely against Moore for inflicting life-changing injuries on the New Jersey businesswoman in a case that also spotlights other instances where concert-goers have claimed great bodily harm after raucous performers have cannon-balled themselves from stage into crowd. Read the rest of this entry »
When a Chicago grocer sought to elbow into a Michael Jordan moment and score points for itself, the basketball superstar showed that he could throw down in a court of law as well as on the hard wood, getting an appellate court to help him wipe the glass for reconsideration of what MJ asserted was a violation of his publicity and trademark rights. Read the rest of this entry »
While video gamers can go on outlandish binges of play — take the fatal, 50-hour ordeal undertaken on Aug. 5, 2005 by Seung Seop Lee — can someone pursue legal action, asserting harm from another’s video-game addiction, more particularly claiming bystander emotional distress? Gregory Cherms, who represented himself in a state Superior court in Sacramento, sued Sony Online Entertainment, Warner Brothers, and Electronic Arts, asserting they were responsible for his adult son being hooked on video games and seeking that the makers be required to provide warnings that the games can be addictive. Cherms said he endured emotional distress as a “bystander.”
Sorry, no case here, the court said, granting a SLAPP motion to dismiss the suit swiftly to protect the game makers’ First Amendment right to pursue constitutionally protected expression. The court also said that for Cherms to have a valid claim for bystander emotional distress, he had to be physically present at the scene of the injury-producing event when it occurs and he had to be contemporaneously aware it was causing harm. While the court noted that Cherms failed to produce admissible evidence in this instance that could support a judgment in his favor (besides a dubious article he submitted after finding it on the Internet), the judge surprisingly did not expressly bar future claims, leaving the possibility this case might come back in the future. Would a lawyer have gotten Cherms further? Could his assertion of video game addiction be considered similar to torts involving cigarettes and addiction, and, if so, might Cherms find others interested in pursuing a class action?
Jim Brockmire is a legend in the booth, the old-school sports announcer from days of yore who was fired for his outrage over the radio after finding out his wife had an affair. Brockmire is known in the sports world as the plaid-coat wearing, red-tie rocking, red-rose sporting, bad-mouth talking (of his cheating wife), and movie-referencing play-by-play guy. He is, hands down, one of the best in his game, well, that is if you ask sports broadcasters.
OK, seriously, Brockmire is just a character created by actor-comedian Hank Azaria — recognizably known as the voices of Moe, Apu, and Chief Wiggum on the hit television show The Simpsons. He sued actor Craig Bierko over ownership of the sports announcer voice, which both actors had been doing. And a federal court recently spoke up as to which voice mattered, legally speaking. Read the rest of this entry »
The Court of Justice, the European Union’s highest judicial body, has ruled that the authorization of the rights holder is not required to link freely available copyrighted information from one site to another. The case, involving Swedish journalists upset over a site that indexed and pointed to their already posted works online, had been widely watched and was the cause for considerable online buzz. The judges in Luxembourg decided the matter by considering whether the links provided a means by which a communication to the public occurs — and which, thus, is regulated under European law so originators (authors, composers or others who hold copyrights) must be consulted. The court said that because the materials already were freely available on one site, no new audiences were created, and, thus, the creators’ copyrights were not breached and they did not need to be consulted. If there are pay walls or other content protections, or if the links trace to original material as posted on secondary and not primary sites, well, the European judges said that is different; those instances breach copyrights. While Hollywood also had kept an eye on this case , the Motion Picture Association of America welcomed the European decision, particularly as it dealt with linking to restricted material. As the Hollywood Reporter noted, the movie and music industries as well as performers of various kinds have battled “link hubs,” where fans and pirates park online crumbs leading to creative materials, including music, scripts and unfinished films so others can find and download these. Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino recently has pursued legal action and issued take-down notices after his script for a prospective and unmade film, The Hateful Eight, was posted and linked to at several spots online.
The devil’s in the details — and so was a federal judge’s recent decision, rejecting a claim by some impatient gamers, infuriated that they had to wait, gosh, two whole doggone weeks, before they could play with their new toy online. This case focuses on Grand Theft Auto V, the hot new game by Take Two and Rockstar Games that debuted recently. Well, besides hitting buttons and starting at screens, there’s a possible take-away from this matter for the tech crowd: reading’s good, especially the whole of materials and not just selections of prose. Read the rest of this entry »
Charles “Chaz” Williams, known as the man who robbed a string of banks in the 1970′s, escaped prison, and went on to manage some of hip-hop music’s biggest acts, is seeking to claim his gangster status from cable networks.
Black Entertainment Television (“BET”) created a documentary series called American Gangster, where it reflected on the life and times of some of American’s most notorious criminals. The series lasted three seasons. A season two episode, called Chaz Williams Armed and Dangerous, was about Williams’ life as a bank robber in Queens, New York.
Williams himself had created a story about his life and registered it with the copyright office. He filed a $20.5 million law suit against BET and others for copyright infringement on his copyrighted story about his own life. He claims BET copied fictional aspects, which he made up, from his protected life story. Williams alleges BET and A&E are liable for airing the American Gangster episode and Netflix, Apple and Amazon are liable for distributing the episode to their customers. The networks sought dismissal, arguing that the episode was based on historic facts, which are not copyright protected. However, a federal court in New York found that Williams has sufficiently alleged a copyright infringement action because his expression of his historical facts are copyright protected and he has shown, even slightly, that the defendants may have copied such expression. This is enough to overcome a motion to dismiss.
Thus, if Williams can prove in court that BET episode substantially copied his expression, then he may be able to prevail in his infringement suit. That is, if he can prove that his expression was in fact embellishments of his life. The court could have decided the substantial issue at this stage, however, neither party provided the court with their copyrighted works, and so the battle must rage on.
A tale of Hollywood love has ended in a cat fight from the grave — this clawing concerning the right of publicity by booming baritone Bing Crosby, the legendary music, film, television and radio superstar. His relationship with Dixie Lee — the beautiful blonde actress who was born Wilma Wyatt and was the singing start of “A Fine Romance” — lasted more than two decades and resulted in four children before her death in 1952. He later remarried, this time to the stunning brunette actress Kathryn Grant, with whom he stayed until his death in 1977. They had three children. But as happens in Hollywood, a battle has ensued between Crosby wife No. 1 as represented by Wilma’s Trust, and wife No. 2 — with the latest development in the long-running legal saga occuring recently in the appellate courts. Read the rest of this entry »
As the famous psychic Van Praagh perhaps predicted, he can pursue claims of trademark infringement, false designation of origin, and unfair competition against his sister for using their same last name as she seeks to build business touting her extrasensory talents — or so was the divination of a federal district court on Long Island, N.Y. Read the rest of this entry »