Month: April 2011

A nuanced look at Hollywood unions’ role

Co-edited by Jeanny Tsoi and Leo Young While national attention has focused on governments’ attempts to dismantle organized labor’s role in public employment, Hollywood remains an unabashed union town with complicated, contentious relations between creative-intellectual workers and owners-management, entertainment attorney Jonathan Handel noted in his recent appearaance in the Biederman Institute’s “A Conversation With…” speaker series at Southwestern Law School. Asked what makes unions in the entertainment industry different than their counterparts in other sectors, Handel — the author of a recent book on the topic —  explained Hollywood’s organized labor remains strong and powerful because of the concentration...

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Beatty beats Tribune, keeps Dick Tracy stake

U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson in Los Angeles has granted Warren Beatty’s motion for summary judgment, finding the actor had fulfilled an agreement with defendant Tribune Media Services and therefore retained rights to Dick Tracy, the long-running comic strip legend. Hard-hitting, fast-shooting and super sharp, the detective was created by Chester Gould and debuted as the protagonist of a cartoon strip on Oct. 4, 1931, in the now-defunct Detroit Mirror. The Tracy ruling came down “just three months after the judge overseeing Tribune’s Chapter 11 proceedings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court [in Delaware] modified the automatic stay to allow Beatty’s suit in the Central District of California to go forward,” wrote Melissa Lipman of Law 360. Beatty and Tribune Media agreed in 1985 that he would get movie, television and other rights to Dick Tracy, with those reverting back to the once-mighty and now bankrupt media company in two instances: (1) if Tribune provided notice to Beatty, and (2) if Beatty did not begin principal photography on a movie or “television series or special” using the Dick Tracy character within two years of receiving such notice. Beatty went on to star in the wildly popular Disney hit as the sqaure-jawed detective and he subsequently contracted with that company to make a TV show starring ice skating champion Nancy Kerrigan dancing with various characters, including Dick Tracy. Then “in 2005, Tribune filed...

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Does stadium ruling throw theaters a curve, too?

Entertainment lawyers get thrown plenty of diverse matters to deal with but might their practice also include handling concerns about the Americans with Disabilities Act? Don’t bet against it, as a recent case in a U.S. District Court reminds. In Feldman v. Pro Football, the a U.S. appellate court in Virginia affirmed a ruling by a U.S. District Court in Maryland holding that the FedEx Stadium must provide deaf and hearing-impaired audiences “with the auxiliary aids and services necessary to benefit from the content broadcast over the stadium’s public address [(PA)] system during Washington Redskins home games.”  The appellate judges, basing their ruling on Title III of the ADA, “left open to the defendants the choice of which auxiliary aids it would make available.” FedEx Field chose “to provide emailed lyric sheets for songs played over the PA system at Redskin games upon request. Other information is provided via captioning in the stadium.” Although this case did not directly address them, the ruling could affect theaters, covered under the disabilities act as a “public accommodation,” and the appellate court suggests that “captioning (or some other form of auxiliary aid) is now a requirement, in addition to assistive listening devices for deaf and hearing-impaired” audiences. The option chosen by the Skins’ stadium is impractical for theaters, blogs attorney Gordon P. Firemark, saying “the option of providing a script or libretto to deaf theatre-goers...

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As Kiwis bolster anti-piracy law, will U.S. join?

A trend appears to be developing globally for governments to impose stricter anti-piracy laws and another country has just jumped onto the bandwagon, as New Zealand has updated and passed new legislation to ban illegal file-sharing and severely punish repeat offenders by unhooking them from internet service for up to six months but eliminating a proposed $12,000 fine to be paid to the actual copyright owner in hopes of providing more of an incentive to them to file lawsuits against offenders. A new amendment also was put into play placing on defendants the burden of proof that there was no copyright infringement. The amendment states that: [I]n proceedings against an account holder relating to infringement notices, the Copyright Tribunal is entitled to presume that the infringements have occurred as recorded in the notices, and that the notices were properly issued, unless or until the account holder gives evidence or reasons indicating otherwise. So with legal actions like these elsewhere, what’s occurring with U.S. proposals to put more muscle into American anti-piracy laws? Vice President Biden clearly wants the U.S. to join the global trend, expressing in a recent Q & A with Variety his desire to combat the problems cataloged in the intellectual property community but also noting his frustrations with the entertainment industry and its inability to provide a successful public education campaign to build support for anti-piracy measures....

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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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