Podcasts? Here are 3 on entertainment law

If you’re looking for a way to stay up to date in easy, convenient fashion with key developments in entertainment and media law, why not try a novel, different technology: Podcasts, which hit big in the early 2000s then seemed to fade a decade or so later, have reemerged to become all the rage again. We’re talking Serial, This American Life, Fresh Air, and the many offerings available through National Public Radio and Apple.

There also are at least a trio of Entertainment Law podcasts worth considering for some reasons described below: It’s a subjective call, and there may be options to add.

But in the upcoming downtime connected to the holidays, it may be worth devoting some moments to: the Entertainment Law Update Podcast, Laws of Entertainment with Lisa Bonner, and the Fordham Intellectual Property, Media, and Entertainment Law Journal Podcast. Here’s why, for those with long commutes or the need for informative diversion, to listen up! (more…)

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For courts and creatives, it’s a time to reconsider

It’s suddenly legal deja vu all over again:

Another legal defeat for SiriusXM, a win for Flo & Eddie

  • turtlesSiriusXM has received another adverse ruling for its unauthorized public performance and reproduction of The Turtles sound recordings, and specifically their ever-popular and hit song “Happy Together.” As mentioned in a previous post, the two artists of the Turtles, Flo & Eddie, sued Sirius in California and were grated summary judgment. Then, last week a federal judge in New York also denied Sirius XM’s motion for summary judgment in  a second lawsuit brought by Flo & Eddie, who are suing in different states because state laws protect sound recording authored before 1972. The rulings suggest that pre-1972 sound recordings include an exclusive right to publicly perform the song, so the artist has the say if these services such as SiriusXM or Pandora want to stream their music.

 Ninth Circuit to reconsider ‘Innocence’ ruling en banc

  • cindy-lee-garcia-295The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has agreed to meet en banc to reconsider an earlier, 2-1 decision involving the now-infamous Innocence of Muslims movie. As an earlier post describes, the appellate decision ordering Google to yank all copies of the film, including from YouTube, was greeted with legal consternation. Yes, the film itself proved to be a notorious, and some say blasphemous, mess, linked to mass protests globally and the deaths of several dozen people. But actress Cindy Lee Garcia got a twin surprise — she asserted she was duped into starring in the film, then, to the shock of many legal analysts, the appellate court found that an actor’s fixed performance may be copyrighted if it meets a minimum level of creativity and rejected the possibility that Garcia’s performance was a work for hire. The case has attracted sufficient attention so that the Ninth Circuit not only is reconsidering the matter, it also has created a special web page for those tracking this case.

Appellate court will re-review artists’ rights case en banc

  • sam francisAnd while the judges in the Ninth were in the mood or mind: The appellate court also has agreed to meet en banc to reconsider a case that has the art community abuzz. It’s all complicated and involves fees that artists under state law are entitled to collect on resale of their works. There are some big names involved, including the art auction houses Christie’s and Sotheby’s, and the estates of Sam Francis, a renowned California abstract painter and printmaker, and Robert Graham, a California sculptor. Whether the so-called droit de suite allowed under California law is enforceable outside the Golden State, got the appellate judges in a twist that led to legal appeals and the reconsideration.

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Copyright an issue for museums in cyberspace

GETTYAs museums modernize and seek to offer more of a virtual experience for the public, copyright law will play an increasingly important part in curators’ lives. That was underscored by the Getty Museum’s recent announcement that it will offer free downloads of high-resolution images of 4,600 works in its collection — an action that brings to the forefront this question: Does making digital copies of art in the public domain create derivative works protected by copyright? No, says writer Michael Weinberg in this timely article. He argues that the Getty digital files aren’t automatically copyright protected. (more…)

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On appeal, ecdysiasts stripped of tax break

If Bob Fosse or Jerome Robbins taught a ballet dancer how to bump and grind a leotard-clad body, would that constitute art high enough so a joint in Upstate New York could catch a tax break? Apparently not. Nite Moves, an “upscale nonalcoholic juice bar” with a “large staff of fully nude beautiful women on stage…[and in] private dance rooms” in Albany has lost its appeal to qualify for an exemption available to cultural and artistic performances. Since 2005, Nite Moves has not paid state taxes on its admission charges, leaving it more than $125,000 in arrears.  Under New York Tax Law § 1105, any place of amusement with an admission charge exceeding a dime must pay taxes. A place of amusement is defined as “any place where any facilities for entertainment, amusement, or sports are provided.” There is an exemption for “dramatic or musical arts performances.” The Court of Appeals said Nite Moves failed to prove that either its private room- nor stage-performances qualified as choreographed under the tax-exemption statute. The 4-3 split decision is available here and the earlier case here. The majority distinguished between high- and low-brow dance, perturbing the dissenting judges. Find out more with Michael Virtanen in the Huffington Post and watch the embedded video by Ahmed Shibab-Eldin about the artistic merits of lap dancing.

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Visualize this: possible new rights for artists

Is the nation ready for a federal resale royalty rate? Congress has asked the U.S. Copyright Office to review how current copyright law affects and supports artists and public comments will be taken until close of business on Nov. 5.  At issue is whether visual artists who can sell and profit from an original work should do so in a fashion more akin to other creative types (musicians, authors, filmmakers) who financially benefit from every copy of their work sold. (more…)

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Lucas loses UK suit over Star Wars props

Film icon George Lucas has lost his copyright infringement case in Britain’s highest court, the BBC reports. The defendant in the case was Andrew Ainsworth, one of Lucas’ former prop designers who runs a small business in Britain selling replica Stormtrooper helmets and body armor. Because he created the original plastic prototype that Lucas used for the movies, Ainsworth’s gear is authentic – and die-hard fans had taken notice, paying around $720 for a helmet and around $1,430 for armor. (more…)

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What isn’t covered by copyright, eh?

Ignore it and it just may go away. Try though we might, it may have been the arguments over the monkey photographs that, of course, pushed the point: This truly has become a stretch, maybe even a silly season for copyright and its extension into popular, creative endeavors and entertainments. Or is it just that too much is expected of statutes that so many think will protect originality, creativity and the unique? (more…)

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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.

(more…)

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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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