‘Marshall Tucker’ rockers lose battle for mark


The southern rockers in The Marshall Tucker Band may be singing the blues. That’s because the musicians in the legendary, long-running, and oft-reconstituted band had their trademark lawsuit against their publishing company dismissed recently.

The band had filed various trademark claims against MT Industries (MTI) over “The Marshall Tucker Band” mark. But on March 1, a U.S. District Court in South Carolina granted a motion to dismiss the band’s claims of infringement and dilution against the company.

Band members had also initiated a claim of copyright cancellation, as well as other state law claims. MTI argued that the entire action should be dismissed, and filed a motion to dismiss, arguing the court’s lacked subject matter jurisdiction. How did this long hard ride end? (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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‘Bad Girl’ defeats, decisively, infringement claim

When a Club Girl became a Bad Girl, a songwriter got in a delayed huff. But he and his lawyer ignored a fundamental aspect of copyright law, a legal point on which an appellate court just offered a pointed reminder: “co-authors of a joint work are each entitled to undivided ownership and the joint owner of a copyright cannot sue his co-owner for infringement.”

That’s why crooner Usher Raymond is sitting prettier than ever as his 2004 derivative hit, Bad Girl, has won a decisive victory over an attack on it, with a ruling from the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. U.S. Chief Judge Theodore A. Mckee wrote the decision on behalf of the three-judge panel, which included U.S. Circuit Judges D. Michael Fisher and Joseph A. Greenaway Jr.

They not only sent packing Daniel V. Marino, a co-writer  of Club Girl, a tune from which Usher’s successful record was derived, they also upheld sanctions against his counsel. What happened? (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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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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U.S. magistrate: Toss suit against Bieber, Usher

 

The superstars of the surprising and problematic Virginia lawsuit, of course, would be Justin Bieber and Usher Raymond. But for court scorekeepers, a copyright case brought by aspiring songsters Devon Copeland and his cousin Mareio Overton over the tune Somebody to Love has turned now into a judicial headcount: Let’s tally it as three appellate judges versus a federal district court judge and a federal magistrate.

This latest development has occurred as U.S. Magistrate Douglas E. Miller, acting as fact-finder, has recommended to U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen that she again dismiss the suit by the cousins seeking $10 million in damages from the Beebs and Usher. Copeland Overton claim the pop heavies infringed on their little heard song with their chart topper. Wright Allen earlier had tried to toss the case but was, curiously, overruled by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, where three appellate jurists somehow heard sufficient similarities in the two songs to reverse and remand.

Miller since has reviewed the evidence, and, on some critical issues, wrote in findings issued on Nov. 14 that Copeland simply presented no evidence that any of the defendants in the case ever had access to his song. He has recommended the federal district court dismiss the case on summary judgment, as requested by the superstar duo. Further, though the appellate judges ruled that a reasonable jury might find that the choruses of the versions at dispute were “intrinsically similar,” Miller said, basically, no way. (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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Tech mogul stays on the hook for $750,000

Michael Robertson (R), CEO of MP3.com, testifies before a Senate Judiciary committee on Capital Hill on the future of digital music, July 11, while Hank Barry (C), CEO of Napster Inc. and Roger McGuinn, member and co-founder of the band The Byrds, listen. MMR/RCSHe’s youthful, handsome, an entrepreneurial dynamo, and his personal wealth has been estimated at times at near a billion dollars. But even for a San Diego tech innovator like Michael Robertson (shown at right), a $750,000 copyright judgment against him personally has to sting, especially when it has been affirmed recently by an appellate court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled against Robertson and his defunct online music storage firm MP3tunes, allowing plaintiffs to pursue further  infringement claims in a long-running lawsuit involving record companies and music publishers once part of EMI Group Ltd.

In EMI Christian Music Group, Inc et al. v. MP3tunes, LLC et al,  music industry plaintiffs not only won what analysts say is their key dispute, the appellate opinion also narrows the circumstances in which Internet service providers (ISPs) can claim safe harbor from copyright liability. (more…)

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Judge pulps copyright suit against ‘Lemonade’

The critics went crazy with their raves when Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter, aka just Beyonce, let loose with a grim, discordant, pained blast with her latest album Lemonade. It was promoted with a broadcast HBO special, which, in turn, had a suitably moody, terse trailer. That tiny cinematic bit, however, especially flipped out an indie filmmaker, who sued Beyonce, asserting that her visual sip of Lemonade, 39 of the 60 seconds in the trailer, had infringed on his copyrights for his film Palinoia multiple times and in multiple ways.

But a noted federal judge in Manhattan, displaying he could be quite the cineaste/critic, had not only a simple but also a fast and stinging reply: No way.

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, just weeks after the case was filed, has dismissed the summer suit against Beyoncé, with prejudice. He ruled just before Labor Day but his 32-page opinion has now become available (thanks to SDNY blog for putting it online). It’s a detailed burn of the claims by Matthew Fulks, the Louisville, Ky.-based, independent filmmaker who sued Beyonce and five other defendants, claiming elements of the film trailer and the film itself promoting Lemonade infringed upon his short Palinoia. (more…)

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‘Domino,’ Jesse J untoppled in copyright suit

 

Although federal judges at two different levels were offered a glimpse of some top pop performers’ supposedly cozy creative lives, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has knocked down like so many dominoes the elements of a plaintiff-proffered conspiracy theory about alleged copyright infringement involving a hit song.

That led the appellate judges, affirming a district court ruling, to give Jessica Cornish, the British singer, and chart-topping songwriter better known as Jessie J, a clear legal victory in early September over plaintiff Will Loomis.

He was a rising star in the Santa Barbara indie music scene and had claimed that Jessie J’s 2011 hit, Domino, infringed on Bright Red Chords, a tune that he and his band, The Lust, had limited success with in 2009. (more…)

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