Month: March 2011

Why satellite firms will beam PBS in HD

Dish Network subscribers can now watch Elmo in High-Definition, in part due to a Ninth Circuit decision. In Dish Network Corporation, et al v. FCC, et al, the appellate judges upheld a District Court ruling from Nevada, denying Dish Network, LLC an order to enjoin Section 207 of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010.  Section 207 required direct broadcast satellite providers that carry local stations in hi-def to adhere, too, to a timetable to carry in HD non-commercial educational stations like the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the home of Elmo of Sesame Street fame. Dish Network, with 14.1 million or so subscribers, and DirectTV, with roughly 18.5 million subscribers, are the only two U.S. direct satellite operators. They beam from satellites in space signals across the country, even to rural areas that traditional broadcast may not be able to reach. Such operations never would have been possible without Congress’ creation of the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999, which provided an exception to copyright law by allowing satellite operators to retransmit a local broadcast station signal without first winning permission from individual copyright holders.  But that legislation also established conditions, including the “must carry” rules for other signals of broadcast TV stations in the same local market and equal treatment of all local television stations for picture quality. Because it licenses their radio frequency space and helps to...

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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.” Franken, a Minnestota Dem, seems to think otherwise, though he “has spoken out repeatedly against attempts to limit speech on the internet.” According to an interview with Ars Technica, Franken thinks censoring the internet is acceptable after all because he does not think the entertainment world “should have to adapt to the changing internet”: The other side of this, of course, is that this...

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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. Frederick Bouchat owns the copyright in a drawing he created for use as the Baltimore Ravens logo. In 1995 Bouchat sent the drawing to the team, requesting only that he be given a letter of recognition and an autographed helmet if it were used. For one reason or another, his drawing was used in the production of the “Flying B” logo during the team’s first three seasons from 1996-1998. While this logo has been replaced today by the current shield-raven’s head insignia, legal issues remain with the prior “Flying B” logo. First, Bouchat sought an injunction prohibiting all current uses of the “Flying B” logo and requiring destruction of all items with the logo, including Ravens highlight films for the team’s first three seasons. The Ravens and the NFL contended that these uses were allowed under the fair use defense. The Fourth Circuit...

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

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

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Entertainment Law Blogs

The Biederman Blog is now ranked NUMBER ONE on Feedspot's Top 20 Entertainment Law blogs (May 2018). It is very exciting to top this list. We are extra proud of number six - Entertainment Law Offices of Gordon P. Firemark. Mr. Firemark graduated from Southwestern in 1992, and is a top entertainment blogger and webinar presenter in addition to being a world class entertainment attorney!

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