Duude, parody serves as ‘sword’ in drama appeal


This guest post was contributed by Travis J. Sabaiti, a J.D. candidate in the Southwestern Entertainment Law and Web 2.0 Fall, 2015, class:

When two funny friends in New York decide to riff in a theatrical production, Point Break LIVE!, on Point Break, a surfer-detective film that many critics found to be more than a few waves on the side of awful, comedy ensued. For awhile. But the legal tangle that then followed after the comic duo had a falling out required the judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to unsnarl.

Before anyone cues a laugh track over this case’s conclusion, Entertainment Law practitioners well-versed in copyright might want to look again at this case and see if it changes conventional wisdom about protections for parody. (more…)

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In Paris, a paltry deterrent for film infringement

lockout_ver2_xlgThis guest post is by Ravyn O’Neal, a member of the Fall ’15, Southwestern Entertainment Law and Web 2.0 class.

If copyright laws seek to prevent unauthorized lifting of an artist’s intellectual property, what should cineastes make of a recent French court ruling in a copyright dispute involving filmmaker Luc Besson? The court found he infringed on the copyright of a 1980s American classic, Escape From New York, when Besson remade it in 2012 as sci-fi thriller Lockout. The ABA Journal noted that as soon as the new film was screened critics noticed similarities to its predecessor. (more…)

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ICYMI: Jay-Z, Beyonce, and a songwriter’s family win; for $90 million, Pandora settles pre-’72 rights-licensing dispute

jzbIt’s not true that the dog chewed up the homework or that a gremlin got into the server. Although a technical snafu or two may have kept the blog dark for a short period, let’s catch up with an ICYMI post that covers, courtesy of members of Southewestern’s Entertainment Law and Web 2.0 class members (as noted):

  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town and how a music publishing giant lost rights to a holiday standard. (Mary P. Ray)
  • Pandora’s decision to settle with artists over pre-1972 recordings. (Aris Shatteen)
  • Jay-Z’s win in a long-running copyright battle with the heir of an Egyptian composer over the song Big Pimpin — on the same day that his wife, Beyonce, triumphs in an unrelated suit against her over the tune XO. (Ravyn O’Neal) (more…)

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For students, an Entertainment Law symposium

Law students from around Southern California who are interested in Entertainment Law have been invited to attend the Annual Entertainment and Intellectual Property Law Symposium hosted at Southwestern Law School, and sponsored by the Law School Career Advisors of Southern California. To RSVP and to get more information, students may click here.

A Los Angeles tradition for two decades, the program, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Nov. 14 (a Saturday), features morning and afternoon practice-specific panels, starting with a special networking breakfast. The panelists include counsel for major entertainment companies, attorneys from esteemed law firms, scholars and judges who will discuss topics ranging from career paths, to practice areas, to career advancement in the entertainment and intellectual property fields. This is a unique opportunity for law students to hear about a “day in the life” of Entertainment and IP attorneys and how to break into the field.

Panelists will include attorneys from:

  • Getty Images
  • Center for Management in the Creative Industries
  • deviantArt
  • Mannatt
  • Lionsgate
  • Warner/Chappell Music
  • The Collective
  • Discovery Communications
  • Three Olive Media Advisors
  • Relativity Sports
  • Jeffer Mangels
  • Fox Sports
  • Benz Law Group
  • Fox
  • SoCal IP Law Group
  • Trademark Trial & Appeal Board
  • Mattel
  • O’Melveny & Myers
  • Kramer Holcomb Sheik
  • DMG Entertainment
  • Paramount
  • OddLot Entertainment
  • Law Office of Eric Thompson
  • Facebook
  • Information Law Group

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Anti-paparrazi law allowed to motor ahead


This guest post was written by Mary P. Ray, a law student enrolled in Southwestern’s Entertainment Law and Web 2.0 class.

Paul Raef in 2012 was in his car pursuing  Justin Bieber, the one-time teen heart-throb turned rock bad boy, on the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles.  Little did photographer Raef know that he was driving into California’s law books, creating the test case for a state appellate court’s recent decision upholding some of the state’s anti-paparazzi statutes as constitutional.

Lawmakers had sought to curb dangerous situations involving notoriously aggressive shooters trying to capture celebrities in photos and videos on California roads. The legislators, effective Jan. 1, 2011, increased the misdemeanor penalties under Code § 40008 for motorists judged to be driving recklessly as they tried to “capture any type of visual image” for commercial purposes.

Raef (above) was charged with violating this statute and other road rules as he chased Bieber on the highway as the young star drove his $100,000, chrome-finished Fisher Karma hybrid at speeds guesstimated at between 80- and 100-miles-an-hour. But the photographer challenged the statute, claiming that it was an unconstitutional infringement on his First Amendment rights. (more…)

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Drone drama: FAA fines operator $1.9 million

FAAThis guest post was written by Jason D. Knight, a Southwestern 2016 juris doctorate candidate.

As a previous post here has discussed, bad actors have complicated the efforts by regulators and lawmakers to provide their pledged rules for what has become one of Hollywood film and television shooters’ hottest technologies: unmanned aerial systems or drones. The FAA has deployed its ”file-and-fly”’ system for them and now 1,800 plus Section 333 exemptions have been granted to lawful operators.

But the clamor to deal with the aerial cowboys also has lassoed what the feds deem a significant offender: SkyPan International, Inc., a Chicago based drone service that provides aerial photography services. The FAA issued a proposed $1.9 million civil penalty against the operator on Oct. 6 for continued and flagrant violations of federal aviation rules. This is the highest penalty to date against a drone operator. If the FAA is successful in collecting this fine, it could set off a series of enforcement actions by the agency against unauthorized drone flights in the national airspace. (more…)

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GoDaddy beats Oscar over domain-name claims


This guest post was written by Anahit A. Pogosyan, a Juris Doctorate candidate in Southwestern’s Entertainment Law and Web 2.0 course:

GoDaddy, go, but Oscar, please stop, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has said. In legal terms, the appellate judges ruled recently that GoDaddy Inc. should triumph in a cybersquatting lawsuit brought by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which claimed the giant domain-registration company illegally was profiting off its Oscar-related trademarks.

U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte wrote in his opinion that the Academy failed to show that GoDaddy acted in bad faith by letting customers buy 293 domain names, including academyawards.net, oscarsredcarpet.com, billycrystal2012oscars.com and theoscargoestothehangover.com. Purchasers often did nothing but buy these “parked” domain names, though, in theory GoDaddy might share revenue from advertising on the prospective sites. (more…)

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Pow! Batmobile’s character earns it copyright


This guest post was written by Hayk Stambultsyan, a PLEAS student in Southwestern’s Entertainment Law and Web 2.0 course:

Bam! said the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. And Ow! was what auto designer Mark Towle likely felt in his Gotham Garage as the appellate judges in Pasadena, Calif., recently decided his replica Batmobiles infringed on copyrights held by DC Comics.

The appellate court rejected the arguments by Towle’s attorneys that the super hero’s legendary vehicle, as seen in a Sixties television series and in movies, varied in looks and design between 1969 and 1989, and, that, at the end of the day, it was just a car. Notably, automotive design has not been afforded protection under the Copyright Act. (more…)

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Second City’s new tax fails to amuse netizens


This guest post was written by Travis J. Sabaitis, a student in the Entertainment Law and Web 2.0 course at Southwestern Law School. 

It isn’t even Halloween yet, but already for those in the entertainment industry, a chill gust is blowing across the lake in Chicago: That’s because the cash-strapped Windy City has said it will adjust its amusement tax, which previously had been collected on items such as tickets to sporting events and live concerts.

The administration of fiery Mayor Emmanuel Rahm has decided to impose a new nine percent levy targeting those who access online “entertainments,” especially those who use popular cloud-based streaming websites; legal analysts say they know of no other local government in the U.S. that has pursued such a tax.

Consumers of television broadcasts, online video, sports programming, games, music, and any other entertainment content delivered electronically soon may have to fork over more money for their every day services. Companies like Netflix and Hulu will be subjected to the taxes on streaming services they offer and they say they will pass on directly these charges in the form of increased rates for consumers (according to a Netflix spokesperson).

It also may become more costly for Second City consumers to access their subscription-based news sites as a result of this tax, which some angry users already have challenged. (more…)

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What’s up with drones in skies over Hollywood?

DroneFilm1This guest post was written by Jason D. Knight, a Southwestern 2016 juris doctorate candidate.

Hollywood was sky high just six months ago when federal regulators recognized the need to support the industry’s global leadership by allowing select firms to fly unmanned aerial systems, aka drones, to shoot movies. Regulators promised to follow quickly with new rules for all drones and their flights but the months since have only proven to be full of ups-and-downs for policy-makers trying to figure how to deal with this fast-growing and novel technology.

It’s been nothing less than a bumpy ride, especially in the Golden State: Fire fighters battling record blazes have had to curtail their work due to illegal drone incursions; airports and commercial aviators are reporting illegal drone flights in regulated air space nationwide with frightening regularity; Los Angeles police say an illegal drone flight interfered with one of their investigations; and only the intervention of Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto has kept state lawmakers from stepping in a trying to impose their own rules about drone flights.

Is this technology dangerous, innovative, useful, or a nuisance? What, in short, is up with drones now? Let’s take off with some key information about them….. (more…)

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