Entertainment Law Update, Episode 16:


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In this Episode:

  • follow ups
  • Recent Cases and Decisions
  • Some online resources we use to keep on top of the stories.
  • Our top stories for 2010

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Jim Morrison pardoned for 1969 Indecent Exposure conviction

Conviction stemmed from a concert given at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami, and  Morrison died before his appeal could be heard.

Doors drummer John Densmore told The Hollywood Reporter that Morrison was charged with the wrong thing.

“He was drunk and disorderly, but he didn’t whip it out,” Densmore explained.

Dora the Explorer Suit settled

Supreme Court Denies Cert in Harper (innocent infringer) file sharing case
Maverick Recordings v. Harper
The Fifth Circuit ruled that Harper cannot claim the “innocent infringer” defense because the record label plaintiffs had affixed proper notices on physical CDs embodying the works at issue. See 17 U.S.C. § 402(d) (“If a notice of copyright in the form and position specified by this section appears on the published phonorecord or phonorecords to which a defendant in a copyright infringement suit had access, then no weight shall be given to such a defendant’s interposition of a defense based on innocent infringement in mitigation of actual or statutory damages, except as provided in the last sentence of section 504.”). The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case leaves the Fifth Circuit’s decision in place.

Copyrights & Campaigns: Thomas-Rasset: I owe nothing; labels seek injunction; court to Nesson: you’re no amicus of mineso

Most recent verdict resulted in a $1.5 Million (24 songs at $62,500 each) award to the plaintiffs, again based on statutory damages… Defendant is forgoing a remittitur motion, and instead moves for modification of the award to $0, on Due Process Grounds.

The argument is that the Plaintiffs didn’t prove their actual damages, so any ‘punitive’ award must bear some relation to the actual injury CAUSED BY the Defendant.  (READ CONCLUSION FROM MOTION)

Meanwhile, the defendants are seeking an injunction against further infringement, and the court REJECTED an amicus brief from Professor Charles Nesson, who represented Joel Tannenbaum in his file-sharing suit, which had similar issues.


Lawsuit Seeks to expose truth behind  “Catfish”

Catfish is ostensibly a documentary about a guy who falls in love with a woman he met online, but never in person.  Supposedly, she’s musician, and sends him beautiful pictures of herself and some of her recorded songs. (except they’re not hers…he eventually figures this out by comparing her songs to  some songs from YouTube.   Then he goes to her house to confront her, and learns that she’s not young, she’s not pretty and she’s not single.

So, the question is whether the whole film is a fabrication.

Why does it matter… well, the record company Spin Move Records owns the  recording of one of the songs the woman claimed as her own (Amy Kuney’s “All Downhill from here”)  … and their  parent company, Threshold Media, is suing.

The filmmakers, and the distributor claim it’s fair-use.  The label says it’s not.  Not if the film or the relevant scenes were staged or set-up.

But does it matter?  If it really is a documentary, is it a fair use?

(Shades of Joaquin Phoenix / Letterman situation we discussed in episode 14)

Axl Rose Sues Activision for $20M for Including Slash in ‘Guitar Hero’

claiming use of the GNR song “Welcome to the Jungle” violated a deal not to include any imagery of ex-guitarist Saul Hudson (aka Slash) in the popular game.

Vegas Hard Rock sued over ‘Rehab’ TV Show – http://www.fox5vegas.com/news/25131974/detail.html

The Complaint alleges (Trademark Dilution resulting from unflattering portrayal of  Hard Rock Brand on the show)  The company said the lawsuit was filed to protect the integrity of its brand and specifically names the “Rehab: Party At The Hard Rock Hotel” reality show as one of the factors that has “damaged” the Hard Rock brand.

The show depicts the various exploits of the guests and staff inside the “Rehab” day club. It has been criticized for its depiction of alcohol-swilling partygoers and aggressive security team.

Amazon Gets Into Movie Business, in First-Look Deal With Warners

Amazon is essentially taking script submissions, presenting them to the “crowd” via the net, crowdsourcing the selection and development process, and will try to make films based on the most popular scripts.  There are awards for top submissions, and those writers whose scripts get made into films will be compensated a somewhat reasonable $200,000, with box office bonuses for very successful films.

Studios sue to stop “Family Friendly” DVD service.
The lawsuit was filed on Thurday in Arizona District Court against Family Edited DVDS, Inc. and its leader, John Webster, who’ve taken movies such as Iron Man 2, The Hurt Locker, Prince of Persia and Date Night, altered them to be free of objectionable content, and distributes them to consumers as “family-friendly.”

In 2005-2006, Hollywood battled DVD santizers CleanFlicks, CleanFilms, Family Flix USA, and Play it Clean Video, and a  federal judge ruled that santized DVDs were an infringement on the copyrights of the original films and ordered the businesses to turn over their inventory.

Some lawmakers believed that households should have the ability to skip objectionable content in films. In 2005, the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act was passed into law, which allowed manufacturers of special DVD players such as ClearPlay and their users an exemption from copyright liability for skipping the adult material.
Fox sues screenwriter/blogger over online script sharing.

Aspiring screenwriter PJ McIlvaine has been sued  for $15 Million, by Fox over the noncommercial Web site she ran which hosted dozens of movie scripts she found all over the web.   The court papers list 79 movie scripts, with only  one, Deadpool,  unreleased.

Fox reportedly first issued a DMCA Takedown to her web hosting company, so she moved to another host… which led to the lawsuit.



Thanks to Charles who called in with some suggestions about the website, feed subscription, and so on. We’ve implemented some, and are looking at others… So thank you!

Next we have this feedback from Jonathan …..       (Play audio) (wants leads on resources to stay up on enterttainment law news)

Here’s our list  of some of  the sites, blogs and resources we use to stay on top of the cases and stories we bring you as part of Entertainment Law Update:

Tamera’s additional links:

and we mustn’t forget Lexology.com

I also have a google alert set up to automatically email me anytime certain key phrases show up on the web.  It’s pretty cool, I get a few hits a week, and they’re usually pretty relevant.  It takes some tweaking to get the right keywords, but then it’s just there… in your mailbox.

(I also do this for my name, so I know when you’re talking about me… you know who you are.)

And, of course, you can let us do the work for you…. just follow our twitter feeds, which we’ve got set up to locate stories and shoot out links… all day, every day:



Tamera’s Top Stories

Gordon’s list:

  • File sharing litigation and BIG awards. (Tanenbaum, Jammie Thomas, Harper, etc.)
  • Limewire shut down
  • The Hurt Locker mass-litigation
  • Sports Figures and Right of Publicity Claims against video game makers, leagues, etc.