Experts to focus on entertainment’s ‘crazy year’

As the digital age makes it easier than ever for anyone to generate original and derivative works while expanding the reach of such creations, how do artists protect their intellectual property? How do producers set up strategic distribution deals with international markets and deal with censorship and other adaptations that may need to be considered? How does the entertainment industry keep pace with the internet and contend with liability matters?

These issues will be the focus of Keeping the Beat in a Crazy Year: Blurred Lines and Border Crossings, the 14th Annual Entertainment and Media Law Conference presented by Southwestern Law School’s Donald E. Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute and the Media Law Resource Center (MLRC). The conference will be Jan. 19 at the Los Angeles Times Building. (more…)

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Ollivierra, Lind named Institute co-directors

biederman-leadersSouthwestern Law School has announced that faculty members Neil Ollivierra and Robert Lind will serve as the new co-directors of the nationally recognized Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute.

Lind is a Southwestern icon, renowned entertainment law expert, prolific author of preeminent texts and treatises, and a mentor and champion of students and alums alike. Prior to his appointment at Southwestern,  Ollivierra served as in-house counsel to various motion picture and television studios at the highest level of business and legal affairs, including Lionsgate Entertainment (The Hunger Games, The Twilight franchise, Orange Is the New Black, Mad Men) and EuropaCorp (Lucy, Taken, The Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita).

Together, their combined expertise, experience, passion and industry affiliations will help to ensure the continued success and growth of the Institute in the spirit of its beloved namesake, Donald E. Biederman. He was a highly admired teacher, scholar, and pioneer in the world of entertainment and media law and the Institute’s founding director. (more…)

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RIP, to a celebrated force in Entertainment Law

 

Let there be no doubt: the Purple Reign, which has ended tragically all too soon, affected Entertainment Law and many of its practitioners.

Prince Rogers Nelson, 57, not only played the role of path-breaking artist, musician, fashionista, and trend-setter, he also was, as various media have noted, an innovator deeply concerned about intellectual property and the legal protection of creative works.

He rocked the recording industry with his willingness to contest its talent representation practices and contracts, which he saw as creative constraints that kept him from controlling his own works. He fought, perhaps to excess, to ensure that his copyrights were enforced. He took a principled stand about the creator’s sovereignty, even in the face of rapidly changing technological advance, becoming one of the prominent hold-outs against what he saw as the penurious payments by online streaming services to musicians, lyricists, and composers.

In doing all this and much, much more, he generated lots of work for Entertainment lawyers in Los Angeles, New York, Minneapolis, and elsewhere. As he a client, just as he was a giant of his craft, he was sui generis, and he will be much missed, practitioners have recalled. RIP, sweet Prince.

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Law school Entertainment Law alum honored

Nathaniel-Hargress-FB-233x300Some good news for a member of Southwestern’s Entertainment Law community: Nate Hargress, LL.M. ’09, is the 2016 recipient of the Rising Star Award from the Association of Media & Entertainment Counsel (AMEC). He will receive his award at the AMEC’s 11th Annual Counsel of the Year Awards. Before joining Viacom Media Networks in January 2016 as senior counsel, Business and Legal Affairs, Hargress spent five years with Discovery Communications as an attorney in Legal and Business Affairs. He also serves as chair of the AMEC Emerging Leaders Advisory Board.

“Winning the award means a great deal to me, especially since I didn’t really know anyone when I first came to Los Angeles from Michigan,” Hargress explained. “My first time in Los Angeles was when I came to visit Southwestern. Now, to receive such an honor from the entertainment law community is truly humbling.” Hargress also credited Southwestern’s LL.M. program in Entertainment and Media Law for bolstering his career opportunities. “Southwestern prepared me for career success by offering a multitude of courses focusing on entertainment,” he said. “Because of my diverse coursework, I felt comfortable dealing with issues in music, television, film and new media.”

AMEC was formed in late 2005 by prominent entertainment attorneys and studio executives. It is designed to support the career development and honor the achievements of in-house counsel and business affairs attorneys at major entertainment and media companies.

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Entertainment, media law event’s on Thursday

SWevent_imageSouthwestern Law School’s Donald E. Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute and the Media Law Resource Center on Thursday will present the 13th Annual Entertainment and Media Law Conference, an all-day event in downtown at the Los Angeles Times building.

“I am particularly excited about the program where an all-star panel, including Aaron Sorkin, will debate the legality and ethics of the media’s publishing hacked material – from studio salaries, scripts and slanderous gossip to nude photos of celebrities, ” said George Freeman, Executive Director of the Media Law Resource Center. He added that there will be “a program on the steps companies can take to avoid being hacked – and what to do if disaster happens from legal and PR points-of-view – will be timely, enlightening and entertaining.”

Professor Steven Krone, Director of the Biederman Institute, said, “The Biederman Institute and Southwestern Law School are delighted to be continuing our long partnership with the MLRC, and we’ve put together another program that promises to be topical and useful for lawyers and anyone interested in the entertainment and media industries.

Three discussion panels will be presented:

  • “The Future of Theaters—The Role of Traditional Distribution in the Digital Era”
  • “On the Digital Battlements—Dealing with Hackers, Enemy States and the U.S. Government”
  • “From Your Hard Drive to the Front Page—Leaked Information, Journalism, and the First Amendment”

Besides Sorkin –Academy Award-winning screenwriter, producer and playwright —  scheduled speakers will include prominent entertainment attorneys, legal scholars and industry insiders including: Alisa Bergman, Senior Vice President and Chief Privacy Officer, Warner Bros. Entertainment; Mary Ellen Callahan, former Chief Privacy Officer, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and current Cahir of Privacy and Information Governance Practice, Jenner & Block LLP; Howard Cohen, Co-President, Roadside Attractions; John Fithian, President & CEO, National Association of Theatre Owners; George Freeman, Executive Director of the MLRC; B. James Gladstone, Executive Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs, Lionsgate Entertainment; Mark Haddad, Partner, Sidley Austin LLP; Blaine Kimrey, former journalist and current shareholder, Vedder Price; Douglas Kmiec, Professor of Law, Pepperdine Law School; Professor Steven Krone, Director, Donald E Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute at Southwestern; Christin S. McMeley, Chair of the privacy and Security Practice, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP; Andrew J. Thomas, Partner, Jenner & Block LLP; and Eugene Volokh, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law.

The event, offering four hours of CLE credit, is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. followed by a reception.

Event co-sponsors include: AXIS PRO Insurance; Davis Wright Tremaine LLP; Doyle & McKean LLP; Fox Networks Group & Fox Group Legal; Fox Rothschild LLP; Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, PC; Hiscox Media; Jassy Vick Carolan LLP; Jenner & Block LLP; Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP; Kelley Drye & Warren LLP; Leopold Petrich & Smith PC; Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz LLP; QBE Insurance Corporation; and Sidley Austin LLP.

The conference will be at the Times, 202 W. 1st Street. There is a parking structure at 213 S. Spring Street.

For more information or to register online visit here. Questions about the conference may be directed to Southwestern’s Biederman Institute at (213) 738-6602 or institute@swlaw.edu.

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‘Oh, Really?’ It’s tough to ‘Get away with murder’

 

In ‘Oh, Really?’ the Biederman Blog’s editors and alumni— 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. This guest post was contributed by Sherrie Fields, a former editor of the blog and new member of the California Bar.

How To Get Away With Murder is the latest prime time hit to be produced by television titan Shondra Rhimes’ and it has fast become a Thursday night staple following Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal.  Similar to Rhimes’ other shows, Murder is chalk full of drama, suspense, love triangles, and sex.

Viola Davis portrays Annalise Keating, an emotionally messy and conflicted but cunning lawyer, a role for which she won Best Actress at the most recent Emmy awards. In between the steamy sex scenes, Keating finds time to teach a course on criminal law, while running a highly successful criminal defense practice. Five of her students have earned coveted internships with her law firm and must assist Keating in representing clients in each episode, in which they invariably find themselves in precarious and scandalous situations.

While the television series is highly entertaining, as a recent Southwestern Law School graduate,  some aspects of the show require suspending  knowledge of a true first-year law school experience. Do any 1L’s lead lives with this much drama? Oh, really? (more…)

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By golly, how did Gollum get into Turkish court?

gollum_395_394t100lead_erdoganEntertainment Law practitioners in the United States don’t all that often see their clients involved in libel cases involving the nation’s top political leaders, thanks to decisions like New York Times v Sullivan. The absence, thankfully, of official libel laws also makes it all but unheard of for American political leaders to pursue legal actions with officials receiving great reputational protection. And for those who love and make movies, it’s also rare on this side of the pond to need to ponder whether certain cinematic characters ought to wear the proverbial black or white hats.

So let’s keep to a minimum the curious consideration under way in Turkish courts: Is the slimy character Gollum from the mega-hit Hobbit movies a bad or good guy and does a village doctor deserve prison time under Turkey’s laws for allegedly insulting that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by posting images of him alongside the fictional ring-snatcher from JRR Tolkien’s fantasy novels?

The issue perplexed a local magistrate sufficiently that he’s called in an array of experts to advise. Famous film director Peter Jackson also has weighed in, decrying the prosecution.

OK, here’s where we slip on that magic jewelry and slip away ….

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Thanks, ABA Journal for a 3rd honor!

Blawg100WebBadgeWe’re honored and grateful. The ABA Journal, the flagship magazine and online information site for the American Bar Association, has named the Biederman Blog for a third year running one of its Top 100 legal web sites, its Blawg 100. The journal, which says that it routinely scrutinizes more than 4,000 legal web sites to provide analysis and insight on the field to the Bar’s nearly 400,000 members, put Southwestern Law School’s student-run, Entertainment Law project in outstanding company. Others also in the Blawg 100 included sites by Jonathan Turley, Rick Hasen, Paul Caron, Eugene Volokh, as well as the professional operations of scotusblog and The Hollywood Reporter. Our thanks go out not only to the ABA, its journal, Southwestern, Dean Susan Prager, the law school’s other administrators and supportive faculty and staff, we owe most to our diligent, delightful, and discerning student editors.

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Duude, parody serves as ‘sword’ in drama appeal

Pointbreaktheatrical

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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