Actors’ ages can be posted online, court says

Is it proper to ask thespians their age? It is, a federal judge in San Francisco says.

U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria recently ruled on a request for an injunction against it that a California law, which prevents the film and television information website IMDB from posting actor’s real ages, is out of bounds and cannot be enforced.

While the law’s aim was to prevent age and gender discrimination in casting, the judge held that the law likely abridges expression of non-commercial free speech, writing,  “it’s difficult to imagine how AB 1687 [the law] could not violate the First Amendment.” (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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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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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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Judge carves up claims in ‘New Girl’ case

New GirlHollywood can be a small town, particularly when it comes to Entertainment Law practitioners at a certain level. This can cut both ways for potential clients, as plaintiffs Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold learned when U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson in Los Angeles tossed a big section of their suit, rejecting claims of idea theft and breach of contract over the popular Fox television program New Girl

The judge–who had previously found their suit problematic–pointed out to Counts and Gold that, despite their complaints to him, they had been fully informed by their initial counsel of a potential conflict of interest before entering into talks about a potential settlement, which they rejected. Wilson found their attorneys were not “incapacitated” by the potential conflict, nor did they act in bad faith. Meantime, he reminded them that they had exceeded the statute of limitations for their action and, he, thus, granted defendants’ motion to dismiss part of their claim. How did this case get in such a muddle?


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‘Oh, Really?’ Ethics shattered in 2 professions?

glassIn ‘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.

He’s a fresh-faced, eager but ruthlessly ambitious guy who somehow also manages to be nice, likable and accomplished. He’s also more than a little furtive, mysterious and slippery. And the actor who captures all these characteristics — a star who also portrayed a youthful warrior who would morph into one of the notorious, tortured Freudian villains of pop culture — has won praise for putting a personable, accessible and bespectacled face on the practice of pathological lying. Why is it worth revisiting actor Hayden Christensen as scribe Stephen Glass in the critically acclaimed but relatively low-grossing flick Shattered Glass?

Well, when truth turns into fiction, fiction shows truth and the truth becomes an object of scorn, this must be a mix of Washington, Hollywood and San Francisco or journalism, movies, the law and commentary. And who knew that the odious practices of one craft, chronicled in a movie three years ago, would be resurrected in a California Supreme Court rebuke and then would subject the legal profession to its own tut-tut-ing over  its bad actors? (more…)

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It’s yet another big Na’vi ‘no’ in `Avatar’ suit

James Cameron. Image Credit: Disney
James Cameron. Image Credit: Disney

While Avatar may have made movie-goers globally swoon for a world blue, a parade of claimants have pursued director James Cameron for reasons green — seeking to claim a share of the box-office smash’s billions in gross. The latest nyet, however, for someone seeking some of that Na’vi cash came on Jan. 17, when a federal court in Maryland ruled in Cameron’s favor in a copyright infringement suit. In that action, Bryant Moore asserted that Cameron created Avatar by copying his screenplays. (more…)

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Honored, thanks. An ABA shoutout, please?

1213_Blawg100250Yes, it’s one of those times of year when the blog doesn’t refresh as frequently as we might like: Our editors are buried in academic finals and we’re awaiting our next group of bloggers.

Still, we’re thrilled because the ABA Journal recently chose us as one of their favorites, part of their seventh annual Blawg 100. The journal, which says it is seen by half of the 1 million lawyers in the U.S., also notes that it routinely looks at 3,800 legal-related blogs to keep on top of developments in the field.

So to be among their picks is great — even more so because of the company we’re in: almost all are practicing lawyers, jurists, appellate judges, noted legal faculty and professional reporters or analysts, as well as legal librarians, legal foundations … well you get the picture.

Our finger- and toe-counting among the Blawg 100 may be off but we see a rare few that are law student-run, from law schools at New York University, the University of Miami. And us. We see a fair representation of Southern Californians in the mix.

A last plea on topic: If you see the Biederman Blog and would like to tell the ABA Journal (by a Dec. 20 deadline) that we’re among your favorites, too, we’d much appreciate it! You’ll find us under the IP category and you can click here on the link to give us, thank you very much, an online shout-out.

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Fo’shizzle, here’s a site for some legal giggles

Need a break from reading that thick case over and over again? Check out,  which reports gizoogleis “a website that converts web pages into Snoop-speak.” When checking out, you will find it has no relation to Google and the site strives to ensure that everyone knows this (must avoid trademark infringement).  But if you’re researching cases and need entertainment, try reading your case in “Snoop language.” Rapper Snoop Dog, now known as Snoop Lion, aka Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., rapper-entertainer extraordinaire, has popularized his own patois, adding an “izzle” to the end of his words. will take your text, izzle them and add other slang, providing a rapper translation. There’s even an app so you can “tranzizzle” at any time. translated some  legal cases already for your entertainment. Be warned, there’s much profanity, so check it out carefully if you’re in a staid law office.

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‘Legal survial guide’ for online content creators

Mark Firemark survival-guide

For all of those who create online content, from bloggers to podcasters, Gordon P Firemark  — entertainment attorney, theater law expert and Southwestern Law School adjunct professor — has written a legal survival guide to help avoid legal troubles.  The Podcast, Blog & New Media Producers’ Legal Survival Guide explains the legal principles, issues and claims that can arise for producers of internet-based media.

Topics tackled include: copyright infringement claims and defenses; Digital Millennium Copyright Act take-down notices and counter-notices; libel  and slander; responses to cease-and-desist letters; and much more.  The guide offers online content providers ways to act to guard against paying legal fees to defend against any of the numerous potential claims that can arise and which Firemark addresses. (more…)

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