Month: February 2012

Videogame industry sends $1.3 million message

A “take no prisoners” approach in litigation can work but what message does it ultimately send? To hear industry reps, recent triumphs against California’s efforts to regulate violence in videogames should blast the word summarized in a certain state’s motto: Don’t tread on us. Especially since, the video gamers say, it will be state taxpayers footing a $1.3 million tab for court costs as part of a curious end to a recent case that advocates say established the First Amendment aspects of a popular electronic entertainment.The Entertainment Software Association, of course, has hastened to let everyone know that California officials have settled with them, agreeing recently to pay $950,000 in court costs, sought by the video game industry group in a relatively rare legal move. As has been pointed out previously, litigants in cases that reach the U.S. Supreme Court can seek to recover costs, though most don’t. The videogamers did, filing motions that described in some eyebrow-raising detail just how pricey counsel can be in cases that soar to the appellate level and above. The industry, among other things, told the high court that it successfully had pursued similar motions for legal costs at the trial court level ($276,000) and before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ($94,000). After beating back 2005 legislation introduced by a San Francisco lawmaker and backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in last fall’s...

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Countersuit turns creator into a kind of ghost

The chief occupation of certain sous chefs and savvy top assistants is simple: Tell the boss to stop. We’ve got enough exotic ingredients in this dish, you’ve thrown enough wow components into that new product, you’ve hired enough pricey consultants. When it comes to lawsuits, it might also behoove some would-be plaintiffs to know when to say when. Take the case of comic book talent Gary Friedrich whose litigiousness has led him to a dramatic reverse:The blog techdirt  in recent years has chronicled the litany of litigious claims  by “Ghost Rider” original creator Friedrich. He sought to enforce copyrights on that work, claiming they had reverted to him in 2001.  His defendants became many:  studios (such as Sony Pictures), video game makers (such as Take-Two Interactive), comic book publishers (like Marvel) and interactive toy makers (like Hasbro). He claimed “an unauthorized ‘joint venture and conspiracy to exploit, profit from and utilize” his copyrights to the comic book character. With Marvel, Friedrich asserted not only infringement but diminution of value of the copyright for “failing to properly utilize and capitalize” the Ghost character. Friedrich’s claims were levied subsequent to the “Ghost Rider” film, which at the time of filing has grossed $214.6 million in worldwide box office ticket sales. But Marvel, a subsidiary of Disney, successfully countersued Friedrich.  That successful countersuit has lead to an interesting situation, in that the...

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Digital tunes ‘re-seller’ gets a legal reprieve

ReDigi, a company that lets users sell “used” iTunes tracks, got a lifeline from a U.S. District Court judge, who has rejected Capitol Records’ request for a preliminary order to shutter the firm. The judge ruled that Capitol failed to show it would suffer “irreparable harm” if ReDigi continued its operations until copyright issues raised by the entertainment giant can go to trial — though the judge did indicate Capitol is likely to prevail there . The startup, launching last fall, operates by scanning a user’s hard drive to retrieve the song for sale there; its software then deletes that song from the user’s hard drive. After ReDigi’s victory, John Ossenmacher, ReDigi’s CEO, stated that “ReDigi is breaking down the barriers that have kept consumers from enjoying their intrinsic and lawful ownership rights to their digital purchases.” Although ReDigi has a verification system to discourage illegal copying of music, Ossenmacher has admitted that ReDigi has no way to ensure that users have not made copies of the songs they are selling on other hard drives. ReDigi claims that the first sale doctrine, which permits an individual to sell, display, or dispose of the particular copy of a purchased copyrighted work, allows users to resell digital tracks just like it allows users to sell physical albums. Capitol argues that the difference between ReDigi and a store selling used music is...

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From Cannes, industry scrutiny of the ‘cloud’

As cloud-based music lockers have begun entering the mainstream, particularly embraced by major players like Apple, Amazon and Google, new legal issues are emerging as the convergence of new cloud-based storage mechanisms and channels of distribution with entertainment content continues to usher in novel copyright questions for stakeholders to grapple with. Some of these issues were tackled at a recent MIDEM conference in Cannes: The legal questions about digital lockers and the “cloudification” of entertainment content focus on the balance between copyright holders’ exclusive rights to reproduce and publicly perform their works and consumers and service providers ability to make lawful...

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In Russia, copyright holders score a key win

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry is praising a judgment in Russia against vKontakte, a popular social networking site boasting more than 110 million registered users, for copyright infringement.  Experts are calling this a landmark IP action in an area of the world where copyright challenges abound for creative content producers. reports on the Commercial Arbitrazh Court decision out of St. Petersburg finding vKontakte guilty of illegally providing unlicensed music to users via their unlicensed music service on its online site.  Plaintiffs and members of the Russian Gala Music Group, SBA Publishing and SBA Production, had sued, asserting that vKontakte provided online user access to their sound recordings and music compositions without licensing agreements.  image by In a nutshell, the basis for the infringing activity claim is the massive amount of Russian and International sound recordings made available to online users via the streaming of music.  Moreover, as reported in, the court reasoned that users were encouraged to create unlawful downloading apps to obtain vKontakte’s music content.  As a result, further cases are pending against vKontakte. In an article by, France Moore, the CEO of IFPI, stated that: This is a very important ruling for Russia.  It shows that sites like vKontakte cannot build a business on making music available without licenses from content owners.  Such services are directly liable for the unlicensed music they make available.  They cannot avoid...

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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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