Here’s a taxing rags’n’riches claim

Entertainment lawyers often get called upon by demanding clients to make challenging circumstances work out, just so. For example what most of us might consider outrageous perks or mere special accommodations, well, they might be a ‘must’ part of a star contract or a rights agreement. 

But a recent case out of the Midwest reminds that people in the public eye, no matter their contentions about what the world should accord them, can get themselves in taxing situations.

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Entertainment lawyers online: 3 sites big, content crucial, social media hip, survey shows

When entertainment lawyers venture into cyberspace,  at what time of day do they do so? Where online do they go and what matters to them when they get to select sites?

The editors of the Biederman Blog, as part of their research on which this site is based, asked those questions and more of practitioners and found:

  • Further, most of this browsing is typically done on weekday mornings.

  • Entertainment lawyers are uninterested in flashy graphics or videos, content matters most to them — not just regular articles, but long and detailed content with legal analysis and citations to cases and other reliable sources.

The data to back up these assertions comes from a survey by the Biederman Blog’s editors of practicing entertainment lawyers,  including Southwestern Law School alumni, attorneys affiliated with the Biederman Institute, and attorneys in the industry.  More than 500 e-mails were sent out to practitioners, more than 50 of whom responded with opinions. A majority of survey respondents say they have more than 15 years of experience in  entertainment law, with their positions including house counsel, solo practices and academia. Because the survey questions allowed for more than one answer, the numbers will not add always up to 100%.

Though most respondents tended be from an older generation, they are adapting to social media. Most respondents say they use social media sites like Linked In, Facebook,and Twitter. There even are a few stubborn folks still hanging on to MySpace.

More updates will follow as more surveys are completed.

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Betty Boop’s legacy — a free for all?

A federal appeals court has ruled that the family of legendary animator Max Fleischer did not hold a valid copyright or trademark for his cartoon creation, Betty Boop.

The court noted the Betty Boop character “combined in appearance the childish with the sophisticated—a large round baby face with big eyes and a nose like a button, framed in a somewhat careful coiffure, with a very small body . . . .” Fleisher created the character in the 1930s as head of Fleischer Studios, a decade or so later selling his rights to the cartoon to Paramount Pictures. (more…)

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A quality issue in far-flung file-sharing cases

The issue of intellectual property protection isn’t exclusively American and a pair of recent cases — in Denmark and Argentina — indicate that judges, as always, can apply their own interesting spins to key matters, offering some ideas, particularly on the quality of file-shared copies and the compensation due to aggrieved parties, that plaintiffs and defendants in U.S. litigation might or might not see as Yankee Doodle dandy.

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Better loophole next time, ivi

It has become more difficult to regulate cyberspace as the internet advances. Entertainment companies are growing nervous about TV shows being posted online without their permission. As a result, they have pushed for a “ new censorship law to block any site that points people to such video content.” In response, ivi, a Seattle-based company, filed suit to “get a declaratory judgment of non-infringement,” which would allow it to stream TV shows online legally.

According to a recent Memorandum and Order from the court, ivi argued that it does not have to comply with rules of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and needs only to pay $100 a year to the Copyright Registration Office for a Section 111 compulsory license. Public Knowledge. Section 111 “was designed to make it easier for cable stations to rebroadcast network TV.” Techdirt.

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Google, finally, steps in — but why?

In May, 2010, a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles issued a permanent injunction against isoHunt as a result of its court battle with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), ordering isoHunt to censor the site’s search engine “based on a list of thousands of keywords provided by the MPAA, or cease its operations entirely in the U.S.” TorrentFreak.

Gary Fung, owner of isoHunt, filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He argues that isoHunt is “just like Google – a neutral search engine – and hopes the court will decide that the keyword filter is needless censorship.” TorrentFreak.

Google has been silent throughout the battle between MPAA and isoHunt  — until now. Google has decided to file an amicus curiae brief with the appellate court because if the injunction holds up, “Google may face similar censorship threats.” TorrentFreak.

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‘Oh, Really?’ Legal ethics and ‘Californication’

In ‘Oh, Really?’ the Biederman Blog’s editors — voracious consumers of all matters pop culture — cast a curious, skeptical, fanciful, fun and smart end-of-the-week eye on popular productions, sharing their keen observations about legal matters these raise…

In an era when a movie called ‘No Strings Attached’ doesn’t merit so much as a blush, is it worth a reminder that the caveman-style casual hook-up can create ethical havoc for legal practitioners? How difficult can it be to adhere to the Bar’s cannons when those hormones call and lawyers and clients engage in, um, Californication, say as occurs in Season Four, Episode Six, “Lawyers, Guns, and Money?” How about a little adult discussion here on lawyers and ethics, prompted by one of cable television’s more frank and grown-up series. Those easily offended or prudish may exit the post here …

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After ‘Social Network,’ legal questions linger

If you haven’t already seen The Social Network, you need to. It took best picture at the Golden Globes and is in a tight race with The King’s Speech for best picture at the Oscars. It’s hard to think of a better reflection of the time, given Facebook’s incredible surge in popularity and recent overtaking of Google as the most viewed site on the web. But after watching the film, some real legal questions may linger: Was there further litigation by the Winklevoss twins and Divya Narenda against Facebook? Did the film accurately portray Mark Zuckerberg and Sean Parker and might either have a case against their film portrayal?

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