Month: March 2012

On remixes, mashups, Dutch go American style

While the United States for a century has resisted entry into international copyright regulation, particularly the Berne Convention,  America finally rolled over in 1989, as it became clear that the increasingly intertwined nature of global intellectual property issues demanded this action. But even as U.S. policy-makers are turning themselves into pretzels to curb rampant piracy, in part by adopting and accommodating international legal approaches, the Dutch, ironically, have turned to America’s more stringent copyright laws as a basis for a proposed law to liberalize their copyright laws to explicitly allow remixes and mashups. Europe generally has looser copyright laws than the U.S., as the Continental tactic in copyright had sought to deal more with creativity, rather than economics. This can be seen in the Dutch proposal, further analyzed in this...

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In rights tiff, Sony’s king of road, judges say

The Sixth Circuit recently examined what happens when an author of a pre-1978 copyright dies before the renewal right in the copyright has vested. The Court of Appeals judges reversed a district court judgment and held that the music publisher, who was assignee of renewal rights in numerous songs, is the owner of the renewal copyrights to those songs, and not songwriter’s widow, where the songwriter died after the publisher filed renewal applications but before renewal term began. Plaintiffs, Roger Miller Music Inc. and Mary Miller, widow of famed country singer and songwriter Roger Miller, sued Sony/ATV Publishing for copyright infringement, claiming that Roger Miller Music owned the renewal copyrights for Miller’s songs. Background: In the 1960s, Miller, best known for his hit, “King of the Road,” assigned the original and renewal copyrights to his songs to Tree Publishing Co., Sony’s predecessor-in-interest. Miller received royalty payments for use of these songs. In both January and April 1992, Sony filed applications to register the renewal copyrights for songs with the renewal terms beginning Jan. 1. 1993. Miller died in October, 1992. That was after the application but before the copyright renewal term began. In his will, Miller granted all interests in his intellectual property to his wife, Mary, who assigned those interests to Roger Miller Music. For 12 years prior to the lawsuit, Sony continued to tap Miller’s songs and paid royalties to Roger Miller...

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Landlord’s reality TV suit SLAPPed down

Reality television doesn’t use a sound stage and most of what’s shown on a reality TV show occurs in the “real world.” When reality television began, arguably with MTV’s reality show namesake “The Real World,” producers built or rented out a house, thus safeguarding their rights to film in the property. It generally is legal to film on private property, though permits and permission by the owner of the property generally are required before filming starts. Can such procedures be forgone when a show’s subject matter becomes a matter of public interest? In a lawsuit against NBC Universal over use of his property on Bethenny Ever After, a property owner claimed that tenants went behind his back to allow reality TV cameras inside his place, violating landlord privacy rights. The judge in the case has ruled that the plaintiff’s privacy was less key than the media defendants’ free speech rights, as producers of Bethenny Ever After argued successfully in this recent case. The case did not go to trial and was dismissed after producers filed a SLAPP motion....

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Prof. Gary Gradinger on the ‘agency package’

Gary Gradinger, an adjunct Professor of Law at Southwestern who teaches Television Production Law as part of the curriculum of the Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute, is Senior Vice President, Business Affairs, at Fox 21. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley, and received his law degree from the University of Southern California. He worked with Biederman Blog editors Sarah Meister and Tiffany Samuel, at their invitation, for this Q-and-A on the ‘agency package.’ This copyrighted material is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied on without the assistance of a licensed attorney. What is an “agency package”? A “package” is an alternative method of compensating the agency in lieu of commissioning the client.  It is paid by the talent buyer (e.g., a television studio). The word is a term of art; it does not imply or require putting together multiple elements, though at times the package or a portion of the package are dependent on the agency delivering multiple elements, depending on the deal reached between the agency and buyer.  How is a package defined? The most common definition of a full package is 3/3/10, which is comprised of the following elements: (a)           3% of the license fee paid upfront for each new episode.  Studios and agencies disagree as to whether this amount is paid on the “gross” license fee...

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Prof. Gary Gradinger on the ‘agency package’

Gary Gradinger, an adjunct Professor of Law at Southwestern who teaches Television Production Law as part of the curriculum of the Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute, is Senior Vice President, Business Affairs, at Fox 21. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley, and received his law degree from the University of Southern California. He worked with Biederman Blog editors Sarah Meister and Tiffany Samuel, at their invitation, for this Q-and-A on the ‘agency package.’ This copyrighted material is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied on without the assistance of a licensed attorney. What is an “agency package”? A “package” is an alternative method of compensating the agency in lieu of commissioning the client.  It is paid by the talent buyer (e.g., a television studio). The word is a term of art; it does not imply or require putting together multiple elements, though at times the package or a portion of the package are dependent on the agency delivering multiple elements, depending on the deal reached between the agency and buyer.  How is a package defined? The most common definition of a full package is 3/3/10, which is comprised of the following elements: (a)           3% of the license fee paid upfront for each new episode.  Studios and agencies disagree as to whether this amount is paid on the “gross” license fee...

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