Month: October 2011

Big penalty restored in music downloading case

In this guest post, Justin Morong, a student in the Entertainment Law and Web 2.0 course, updates the appellate review of the verdict and judgment in an infringment case against a grad student, who downloaded music and is a self-described crusader against recording companies.  Let’s call it the case of costly principles: The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals, in a recent  ruling in an infringement case, upheld a hefty penalty against a digital music downloader, slapping graduate student Joel Tenenbaum with a $675,000 judgment. In August, 2007, Sony BMG and other record labels sued in federal district court against Tenenbaum for statutory damages and injunctive relief, claiming 30 counts of unauthorized music downloads.  Tenenbaum was found liable for willful infringement to the tune of $22,500 per infringement. U.S. Judge Nancy Gertner then reduced the judgment by 10%, calling the price tag set by the jury “unconstitutionally excessive,” such that it violated Tenenbaum’s due process rights. Plaintiffs objected to Gertner’s move, stating, “with this decision, the court has substituted its judgment for that of 10 jurors as well as Congress.” Plaintiffs appealed. In its decision, the appellate court said Gertner’s move thrust the case into a “thicket of Constitutional issues” and the judges  reinstated the original $650,000 judgment.  The district court had cited the “doctrine of constitutional avoidance,” which dictates that courts consider common law claims before constitutional claims. ...

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A lawyer’s documentary brings topics to a boil

Lawyer and filmmaker Susan Saladoff appeared at Southwestern Law School this week for a viewing and discussion of her recently released HBO documentary Hot Coffee: Is Justice Being Served In an audience discussion, she shared why she stopped practicing law briefly to produce the film. Saladoff (shown at right) had spent 25 years in the civil justice system, working with Public Justice. Her experience in representing plaintiffs in claims of injury and negligence against corporations and individuals made her passionate about the issue of protecting the public’s access to the courts, she said.  She grew especially concerned over the public campaign launched in the media in the mid-1990s to promote what advocates called tort reform, and which, in her view, consisted of constant attacks on the civil justice system. Hot Coffee focuses on a 1994 New Mexico case that has become notorious among those who cry foul about “frivolous litigation,” as the now legendary lawsuit involved a contentiously sizable award against McDonald’s over a cup of its hot coffee. A jury awarded plaintiff Liebeck almost $3 million in damages for third-degree burns she suffered from that java spilled after its purchase at a McDonald’s drive-thru. The film aims to address what Saladoff sees as misconceptions about the facts of the case. And it goes on to tackle her concern that someone provide the public with information so citizens will act to...

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Heightened scrutiny for a Hollywood mainstay

In this guest post, Kim Jackson and Sarah A. Meister, two students in the Entertainment Law and the Web 2.0 course, examine the recent moves by Los Angeles prosecutors against talent agents and talent agencies, as the District Attorney’s office, after due warning, enforces the relatively new Krekorian Act. As the faculty at Southwestern Law School’s Biederman Institute hasten to remind, a key and sometimes overlooked aspect of a Los Angeles  Entertainment Law practice can include dealing with talent agents and talent agencies, especially as they are regulated by the state of California. With the pellmell rush for Hollywood to adapt to new technologies and ever-more clever contracts of other sorts, are talent agencies and talent agents and their oversight still a 21st century concern? You betcha. As Kim Jackson  describes her experiences just a few years ago, talent agencies still hold huge allure for folks who flock to Hollywood with big dreams: “I can speak from first hand-experience: Before law school I was an actress. And I paid for headshots, and acting classes, and Casting workshops. I don’t even know how much I spent total over the three years I was actively pursuing it.  I worked so I could afford food and rent, but all the rest of my spare change went to pay for my acting classes.  I was fortunate enough to have an agent, but to maintain their representation, we were required to...

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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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