Es tiempo, dice el juez en el caso ‘Timeless’

Court advances claim that U.S. television show may have infringed on Spanish hit

Timing’s everything, a federal judge in California has reminded Sony Television and NBC Universal, as he has denied their moves to dismiss a suit against them by Onza Partners, broadcast creatives in Spain.

The partners object to how negotiations they conducted over their Spanish TV hit in the summer of 2015 with a prominent American agent and Sony progressed—or didn’t—to the fall announcement of an NBC show. The Spaniards unsuccessfully filed suit just before the fall 2016 airing of the American production, not necessarily to block its broadcast but certainly to halt its distribution.

The well-rated program, Timeless, waited for no one, and now the creators of El Ministerio del Tiempo, aka the Department of Time, await the calendar for the federal courts to decide if Sony and NBC infringed on their work and breached a contract, as they claim. The dispute may turn on case law that goes back decades in time.

(more…)

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Sir Paul’s rights claims: music industry temblor

In artists’ battles to terminate, recover copyrights, $750-million Beatles catalog’s a legal behemoth

It’s a provision of copyright law that has proved advantageous for many—but not for Duran Duran. Now Paul McCartney, a titan of the music industry, has sent tremors through the business by asserting he soon will try it with his iconic tunes, which are worth tens of millions of dollars.

The music industry has braced for some time over what will happen with musicians’ termination notices and the subsequent recaptures of their compositions as permitted under the law. Some songwriters – who say they too were young, poor, naïve, and misinformed – insist they must seize back their copyrights after being taken advantage in earlier deals. Will this launch a new gold rush of innovative deal making early in careers? On the litigation front, will Sir Paul bring a new wave of lawsuits over copyrights to now-legendary works? (more…)

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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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Will cable boxes go bye-bye, content increase?

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Is it time to say goodbye to cable companies’ set-top transmission boxes, the monthly charges that come with them, and a possible entertainment content choke point?

The FCC has approved a Notice of Proposed Rule Making to allow consumers to access cable and cable programming through other means, not just cable companies’s set-top boxes.

The FCC had released a fact sheet in January that detailed the reasoning behind this shift. The agency says that “99% of pay-TV subscribers are chained to their set-top boxes,” that they pay “on average $231 in rental fees annually” per household, and that these new rules will “tear down anti-competitive barriers and pave the way for software, devices and other innovative solutions.” Like what? (more…)

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Dancing baby spins again, now for more fair use

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Oh, that baby never seems to stop dancing, does he?

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, en banc, has released an amended opinion and dissent in the “Dancing Baby” case aka Lenz v. Universal Music Corp, which this blog has posted plenty about previously.

For a quick recap, this case involves plaintiff Stephanie Lenz, who nine years ago posted a 29-second video on youtube.com of her then infant son dancing to Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy. Universal, which owns the song’s copyright, then used Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s take-down procedures to seek video’s removal.  The two parties have gone at in court ever since, resulting last year in the appellate opinion finding that a rights’ holder must make “a good faith inquiry” as to whether content would qualify under the Copyright Act’s fair use exception before requesting a take-down.

In its original opinion, the appellate judges included a limit that the “consideration of fair use need not be searching or intensive,” and that “implementation of computer algorithms appears to be a valid and good faith middle ground for processing a plethora of content while still meeting the DMCA’s requirement’s to somehow consider fair use.” The judges sought to explain some of the process that rights holder must perform before seeking a take-own, as well as limiting the scope of their required inquiries.

But in amending their opinion, the appellate judges have removed both those limitations. Let’s dance a little more with the revised ruling: (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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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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Canadians in TV case can’t elude jurisdiction

hollwoodAlthough some entertainment industry types may belittle Los Angeles and insist that they can do business on their own terms elsewhere, all too many paths lead to and through what boosters blushingly have dubbed the Entertainment capital of the world (yes, even you die-hard Seattle grungers need to recognize that Nirvana’s iconic Nervermind was recorded in Van Nuys).

So it wasn’t exactly a surprise when U.S. District Court Judge Ronald S.W. Lew ruled recently that LA, California, and the United States had powerful legal pull, aka jurisdiction, over some far northern business interests, specifically Canadian resident David Fortier and Canadian incorporated Temple Street Production Incorporated. Govern yourselves accordingly, out of towners, as to whether you think you can elude a legal challenge if it plops on your doorstep: (more…)

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A front-row view of Hollywood’s copyright fight

He never took a copyright nor a trademark course in law school, he said, and he intended to practice in the international or educational areas. A clerkship with a judge persuaded him he didn’t want to be a litigator. At one point, he pondered leaving the profession after practicing with a mid-sized firm that he loved, though he didn’t like the kind of law it handled. Instead, he sought a house counsel job and had the luck to interview with a Hollywood studio’s General Counsel, who liked his answer as to why he wanted to work at Warner Bros., because, this candidate said, “he loved Bugs Bunny.”

His initial, self-deprecating description may have thrown some audience members for a curve. But Dean Marks, an  entertainment industry expert on content protection and copyright law, then proceeded in his recent talk at Southwestern Law School to describe his ring-side seat to the enormous changes he has helped influence in working in intellectual property issues. He did so in speaking with Prof. Steven Krone as part of the Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute’s “A Conversation With” series. (more…)

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