Month: April 2011

Cyber critics rip U.S. domain-name crackdown

U.S. officials in recent months have seized many file-sharing domain names in an attempt to fight against piracy. In particular, a series of seizures by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has “made headlines across the Internet,” bloggers say. But these federal actions also have resulted in heavy critique from journalists, legal experts, senators and most prominently, the public. Among the many arguments, legal experts developed five arguments why these actions are unconstitutional: 1. They violate the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment because the government seizes the domains without prior notice and hearing. 2. The seizures of protected speech without a hearing violates the First Amendment. 3. There is no concern that the accused will flee with their domains. 4. There is an unacceptable risk of wrongful seizure. 5. The targeted sites are not given an immediate opportunity to reclaim their domain. On the other hand, the government says this is an effective tactic to combat Internet piracy. Authorities note that they have not shut down only file-sharing and streaming sites but also sites that sell counterfeit goods. After staying silent about the U.S. actions for two months, the Motion Picture Association of America has applauded authorities for their success in raising public awareness about piracy and in stopping sites from engaging in illegal activity. But the TorrentFreak site argues that results show the government...

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Judge orders copyright-offending art destroyed

Holy, Moses: a U.S. District Court in New York has stunned many in the contemporary art world by skipping past the Solomonic approach and ordering some copyright offending works potentially worth huge sums to be plucked from the public and impounded and destroyed. The decision, finding “appropriation artist” Richard Prince liable for copyright infringement, leaves him and the noted Gagosian gallery on the wrong and apparently costly side of a reworking of a series of pictures by French photographer Patrick Cariou. Appropriation art is a popular approach that involves the deliberate copying of existing images by an artist, who then is said to take possession of the work by changing or adding to it, all the while intending that a viewer recognize the original image. Such deliberate “borrowing” of an image is termed “recontextualization,” which, in turn, is supposed to help the artist comment on an image’s original meaning and the viewer’s association with the original image or the real thing. Exemplars of this approach supposedly include Andy Warhol and his Campbell’s Soup Can series of 1962. The Calnnco blog notes that Prince used Cariou’s photographs from his book Yes, Rasta without permission or compensation to the photographer to create artworks, some of which little altered or transformed the originals. District Judge Deborah Batts ruleed that for “fair-use exceptions to apply, a new work of art must be transformative in the sense...

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Digital royalties dispute takes a funkier step

After the Supreme Court rejected a reconsideration of an appellate decision that raised legal questions about the digital royalties owed to recording artists of yore, the estate of the funk performer Rick James potentially has opened what many analysts had predicted might be a litigation flood, filing its suit against giant Universal Music Group over its payments for digital downloads and ringtones. Since the James complaint was filed as a federal class action, any musical artist with related claims might join in and take part in any potential recovery. Just who might be a party in the action, of course, will be determined by the courts, starting with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, where the James action was filed. That court must consider and approve the class status and determine how it will be defined. Universal has said this current round of digital royalty disputes affects its dealings with only one artist: Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem, who, with F.B.T. Productions (which discovered him) prevailed recently in litigation with Universal over digital royalties in a case decided by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and left undisturbed by the Supreme Court. The economic stakes in this litigation could be huge, with a prominent music entrepreneur based at a well-known music school estimating for the Future of Music group that the disputed and unpaid royalties could amount to more...

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A thumbs up by museums for tiny displays

The Association of Art Museum Directors has released its long-awaited policy that deems working with, or using, low-quality digital thumbnail images a copyright fair use. This much-debated policy should provide greater clarity on a controversial but common practice that could have bedeviled smaller museums and that might have proved a stumbling block to art institutions as they sought to make a place for themselves by displaying their collections online and with social media while also respecting artists’ rights. According to the group, its mission is to promote “the vital role of art museums throughout North America and advance the profession by cultivating leadership and communicating standards of excellence in museum practice.” This policy statement for its member organizations (numbering 198) focuses chiefly on the practice of using for online and other displays thumbnail images of artworks in existing museum collections. The group members — including notable Los Angeles institutions such as the Hammer, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Getty — define a thumbnail image as being a “low resolution, small version of less than commercial quality (less than 250 x 300 pixels) … digital image that is typically used in a collection image database, on a web page, or in an online publication to represent an image or to provide a link to other content, such as a larger version of the image.” And though, “Member...

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A campus conversation on Hollywood unions

Jonathan Handel, an attorney and author, will be the next guest of the Biederman Institute at Southwestern Law School’s “A Conversation With…” Series. His April 12 discussion will be on, “The Past, Present, and Future of  Hollywood Unions.” The event will be at the Southwestern campus starting at 7:30pm with a reception to follow. Handel is the author of “Hollywood on Strike!” and writes the Digital Media Law blog. Practitioners may earn one hour of CLE credit at the free session. Campus parking is $6. Reservations are requested and can be made through emailing institute@swlaw.edu or calling (213) 738-6602. More details here....

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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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