To censor or not? Sen. Franken riles critics

According to Techdirt, it is quite a surprise that Sen. Al Franken, a well-known believer of “internet freedom,” now supports censoring the internet via the Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act (COICA). This act is an internet censorship bill that attempts to prevent copyright infringement. Essentially, “if infringement is ‘central’ to the purpose of the site,” it would be place on “a blacklist of censored domains.” Hence, hosting websites such as MediaFire and Rapidshare may be gone.

On the other hand, this bill is criticized by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for the enormous collateral damage it may have on the cyberspace. Potentially, it may also target non-infringing contents, such as “sites that discuss and make the controversial political and intellectual case for piracy.” If this bill passes, Youtube and many other “legitimate” online service providers could disappear off the web. Further, “this act would allow the Attorney General to censor sites even when no court has found they have infringed copyright or any other law.”

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Court cries foul on Ravens

More bad news recently for the NFL: No, not the recent ruling by U.S. District Judge David Doty favoring the NFL Players Association in a TV dispute that has billions at stake. And no, this does not involve the collective bargaining agreement, expiring March 3rd at midnight, that could lead to the first league lockout since 1987.

This time, the NFL — typically a pit bull about protecting its own copyrights, is on the wrong end of a copyright infringement decision involving the Baltimore Ravens old logo.

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There’s no place like the public domain?

Dorothy, the Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow may forever delight audiences with their trek on that Yellow Brick Road, but some legal analysts say the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has its own tough course ahead as it decides whether public domain works involving these characters and others may be resurrected and protected by copyright? A case arising in St. Louis also asks the question: What is the public domain?

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Oh, Really? ‘Harry’s Law’ and legal reality

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…

David E. Kelley’s new show, Harry’s Law, premiered on NBC late in January. Although the drama is likely to have infuriated lawyers, grossly misled its audience about the practice of law and set forth a blatant disregard for the ethical duties of lawyers, the show is highly entertaining; one’s heart warms to the characters almost instantly; the show embraces the challenges lawyers face as they walk the fine line between social and legal justice.

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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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