Here’s how to ensure prop cash is legal

With product placement a ripe source now for revenue, entertainment lawyers increasingly are getting called on to to know where and when to obtain copyright and trademark licenses or releases for items appearing in movies and TV programs. With a tip of the cap to the always informative lawyer-blogger Lionel Sobel at the Entertainment Law Reporter, here are answers to how counsel should answer when quizzed about showing cash, money, currency, moolah or dough in some fashion on screen.

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A nuanced look at Hollywood unions’ role

Jonathan Handel

Co-edited by Jeanny Tsoi and Leo Young

While national attention has focused on governments’ attempts to dismantle organized labor’s role in public employment, Hollywood remains an unabashed union town with complicated, contentious relations between creative-intellectual workers and owners-management, entertainment attorney Jonathan Handel noted in his recent appearaance in the Biederman Institute’s “A Conversation With…” speaker series at Southwestern Law School.

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Europe ponders browser blocks on pirates

While U.S. officials have been seizing domain names to battle online piracy, other countries have come up with other ideas, such as blocking sites through a website’s domain name system, a notion that has gained some impetus with hints in Europe  that “malware filtering in web browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome would do the dirty work,” the tech news blog Torrent Freak reports. It says that British and Danish officials, pondering the browser-blocking approach, have found it, too, has considerable obstacles, including who would have the authority to blacklist what sites.

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Cyber critics rip U.S. domain-name crackdown

U.S. officials in recent months have seized many file-sharing domain names in an attempt to fight against piracy. In particular, a series of seizures by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has “made headlines across the Internet,” bloggers say. But these federal actions also have resulted in heavy critique from journalists, legal experts, senators and most prominently, the public.

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Hip-hop sample OK under complex Indian law

Timberland
Aradhana

U.S. appellate court in Florida has upheld a lower court’s summary judgment for defendant Timberland, resolving an interesting legal question — not whether the music producer could sample a 1967 Bollywood tune for the rap “Put You on the Game,” but whether plaintiff Saregama India Ltd. owned that original tune’s copyright and had standing to litigate. To answer the question, the panel of judges reviewed “an Indian copyright statute from 1957, the types of customary agreements between film producers and musicians in the 1960s, and the specific contract between Saregama’s predecessor company and the producer of Aradhana,” the Bollywood movie from which the tune came.
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Danes set a high bar in file-sharing cases

The Danish Supreme Court recently ruled that evidence, such as IP addresses, are too weak and insufficient evidence to prove liability in file-sharing cases. In that case, a person who was accused of sharing 13,000 tracks online was only ordered to pay $1,900 (krone) — an amount significantly lowered than that requested by the record labels — because the quality of the evidence provided by an anti-piracy group was inadequate.

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A plea for a copyright fix to protect consumers

Yvette Joy Liebesman

Yvette Joy Liebesman, a law professor of Saint Louis University, has written Downstream Copyright Infringers, an article that attempts to identify and propose a solution to a potentially significant online copyright infringement issue. While cyberspace has become a great venue for the recording industry, musicians, and songwriters to sell their works to the general public, this access potentially may turn digital music consumers into unintended copyright infringers.

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‘Oh, Really?’: Statutory bias, the ‘Incredibles’

In ‘Oh, Really?’ the Biederman Blog’s editors — voracious consumers of all matters pop culture — cast a curious, skeptical, fun and smart end-of-the-week eye on popular productions, sharing their keen observations about legal matters these raise.

“The Incredibles” is a computer-animated film about a family of superheroes who are forced to hide their powers and adopt “normal” civilian identities due to the government’s “Superhero Relocation Program.” This program is motivated by a string of lawsuits against the superheroes, which puts extreme financial burden on the government and causes a political and public outcry. Ironically, one of the plaintiffs actually was rescued by Mr. Incredible, the dad in the family, from an attempted suicide. Rather than being thankful, the plaintiff argues that Mr. Incredible did not save his life, but ruined his death. To prevent further lawsuits, no matter how ridiculous they are, the government wants the superheroes’ “secret identity to become their only identity.”

This program has caused Mr. Incredible and his family to live in turmoil. He is forced to work as a miserable insurance specialist. One day, he throws his boss through a series of walls because he prevents him from rescuing an innocent. Like any “normal” employee who assaults a boss, Mr. Incredible is fired. His children with superpowers themselves, Violet and Dash, also struggle with “normal life.” Elastigirl, his mom, keeps Dash out of a race because of his incredible speed. Violet becomes shy, withdrawn and an outcast.

Despite the burdens it imposes on the movie’s protagonists, is the “Superhero Relocation Program” constitutional under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause (EPC)?

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