For rapper Lil’ Wayne, an appellate slap down

A lawsuit by Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. (aka Lil’ Wayne), seeking, among other things, $50 million from the makers of The Carter, a documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009, has taken a new turn: After a countersuit by entertainment company Digerati and a decision by the California Court of Appeals, it turns out Wayne could be found liable for breaching his oral contract with filmmakers by failing to promote the project. In short, his initial plan may have backfired. (more…)

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‘Public Domain,’ prof’s new book, wins praise

James Boyle, in his award-winning new book, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind (Yale University Press), introduces readers to the idea of the public domain and describes how it is being greatly eroded by our out-of-touch and harsh copyright, patent, and trademark laws. “In the age of the Internet, what are lawmakers doing to protect the public from copyright? This is the central question Boyle considers as he explores the history, application and future of intellectual property laws to works of authorship using contemporary technologies,” wrote Julie Cromer Young, Thomas Jefferson School of Law in her review of this work.

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Un-‘Happy Days’ for actors over royalties

Cast members of the television hit “Happy Days” have filed a complaint against the CBS and Paramount Studios in Los Angeles Superior Court, asserting breach of contract.  The Santa Monica-based law firm, Pfeiffer Thigpen Fitzgibbon & Ziontz LLP, has claimed on behalf of Anson Williams, Don Most, Marion Ross, Erin Moran and the estate of Tom Bosley that CBS, the successor in interest to Paramount and current owner of the show, has refused to pay merchandising revenues owed under their contracts.

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Dr. Dre triumphs in digital suit

Rap legend Andre Young, a.k.a. Dr.Dre, has emerged victorious from a federal lawsuit he filed over owed royalty payments in early 2010 against WIDEawake Death Row Entertainment LLC.  U.S. District Judge Christina A Snyder in Los Angeles has ruled that the defendant breached Dre’s contract by selling his music online, without his permission and contrary to their 1996 agreement; Dre, thus, is entitled to 100% of all digital sales from his classic 1992 album, “The Chronic.”

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Beatty beats Tribune, keeps Dick Tracy stake

U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson in Los Angeles has granted Warren Beatty’s motion for summary judgment, finding the actor had fulfilled an agreement with defendant Tribune Media Services and therefore retained rights to Dick Tracy, the long-running comic strip legend. Hard-hitting, fast-shooting and super sharp, the detective was created by Chester Gould and debuted as the protagonist of a cartoon strip on Oct. 4, 1931, in the now-defunct Detroit Mirror.

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Ruling puts the big squeeze on LimeWire

In a victory for the Recording Industry Association of America and artists, U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood has ruled in New York that LimeWire LLC and its CEO were liable for inducing the infringement of more than 10,000 sound recordings, declaring those materials were owned by major labels including UMG Recordings Inc. and Sony Music Entertainment Inc. DigiDayDaily reports that LimeWire is the largest remaining commercial P2P service and has not followed other such enterprises that negotiated licenses or discontinued their service after the Supreme Court decision in MGM v. Grokster.

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Judge orders copyright-offending art destroyed

Holy, Moses: a U.S. District Court in New York has stunned many in the contemporary art world by skipping past the Solomonic approach and ordering some copyright offending works potentially worth huge sums to be plucked from the public and impounded and destroyed. The decision, finding “appropriation artist” Richard Prince liable for copyright infringement, leaves him and the noted Gagosian gallery on the wrong and apparently costly side of a reworking of a series of pictures by French photographer Patrick Cariou.

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A thumbs up by museums for tiny displays

The Association of Art Museum Directors has released its long-awaited policy that deems working with, or using, low-quality digital thumbnail images a copyright fair use. This much-debated policy should provide greater clarity on a controversial but common practice that could have bedeviled smaller museums and that might have proved a stumbling block to art institutions as they sought to make a place for themselves by displaying their collections online and with social media while also respecting artists’ rights.

According to the group, its mission is to promote “the vital role of art museums throughout North America and advance the profession by cultivating leadership and communicating standards of excellence in museum practice.” (more…)

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‘Oh, Really?’ Facing up to ‘Facebook,’ the law

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 social networking phenomenon Facebook recently attained new heights as an integral part of pop culture when the film, The Social Network, achieved public acclaim by winning three Oscars this year. While it will be of continuing interest to see whether any of the characters depicted in the film do file legal complaints about their cinematic portrayals — as it is unlikely that permission for such use was requested by the movie’s producers — the social media site has spawned some novel legal situations in and of itself.

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