Month: September 2012

Righthaven: firm’s out but its tactics live on

Righthaven, the law firm infamous for its copyright litigiousness, in recent months has been slapped with a federal judge’s order, seizing thousands in its assets and sending it out of business, even as it found itself slapped back by an appellate court on yet more of its bodacious claims. With its all-out assaults on parties it says infringed on rights held by others, Righthaven rode high for awhile before its crash into what critics proclaimed a slow-coming, much-deserved ignominy for the practice now commonly dubbed “copyright trolling.” But its aggressive tactics, by which lawyers extracted in excess of hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements, haven’t gone away: See Exhibit ‘A’, the recent lawsuit filing against Bleacher Report, Inc. The context differs here but the method is the same. In Righthaven cases, the firm asserted infringement claims on behalf of its clients against online defendants for the unauthorized use of newspaper articles. Those who have taken up in Righthaven’s tracks — in perfectly legal fashion, and, some may argue in the interests of clients — are attorneys scouring the web for infringement claims on behalf of stock photo sites. The complaint, e-filed on Sept. 18,  asserts infringement by Bleacher Report Inc., for unauthorized use of photos of a female celebrity and Mark Sanchez, a quarterback for the NFL’s New York Jets and before that USC. The claim is that...

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Apple’s next big bite: music streaming?

With its stock soaring to nose-bleed levels and its devices dominating the headlines and markets, what more could the folks at Apple do? Well, how about further disrupting the music world, with reports that the wizards of Cupertino plan to develop an internet radio service (read it here).  That would put Apple in a run for the money with providers like Pandora, Spotify, Slacker and Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio. And while web-streaming radio-servers have attracted audiences,  the revenue hasn’t been so great. So what’s Apple up to and how do the legal rights to the music itself play into this deal? According to GIGom, Apple is just trying to keep its customers happy and hooked in. Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora, says his license prohibits his product from much customization.  Pandora isn’t actually licensed directly by labels-artists; they, rather, have a statutory license through the government.  The webcaster license does not allow for ‘on demand’ streaming — hence the inability to ‘rewind. ‘Pandora has more than 900,000 songs in its database from 90,000-plus artists and, if you want it click here. The “performance complement” was adopted in the DMCA in 1998 and limits a webcaster under statutory license from playing too many songs by the same artist in a limited period:  No more than three songs can be played in a row by the same artist; no more than four songs can...

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Does fan ‘love’ heal copyright, TM wounds?

Josh Wattles, an adjunct faculty member at Southwestern Law School and adviser in chief to deviantART, the world’s largest online community for artists and art enthusiasts, presented at ComicCon 2012 in San Diego on copyright law and fan art, see the video here.  According to deviantART, original fan art is a work in which the submitting artist has done 100% of the work but the work itself depicts characters, scenes or other themes which were properly created by another creative person.   Fan art often offers the ultimate homage to the original creation but the legal issues may get sticky when...

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Rockers’ suit over Warhol image slips forward

While allowing a trademark dispute to advance, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in New York has tossed the Velvet Underground’s request for a finding that the Andy Warhol Foundation has no copyright interest in a legendary banana design because the case is not ripe for adjudication. Warhol created the iconic “peelable” banana cover art for the Velvet Underground’s 1967 album, The Velvet Underground & Nico.  Since then, the band has been licensing the famous design for consumer goods and promotion of reunion concerts.  This album holds down spot 13 on Rolling Stone‘s list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, beating out the likes of the Beatles’ Abbey Road and Nirvana’s Nevermind.  The album was also added to the 2006 National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress, which underscores the importance of the preservation of its legacy.  Those who consider themselves music aficionados know this album and its cover artwork. But in 2009, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Inc. sued the Velvet Underground for copyright infringement to gain exclusive right over the image. That’s whenthe trouble began.  The band demanded that the foundation stop licensing the image because it could “create consumer confusion over the good’s connection to the Velvet Underground.”  The band also asserted that the image has a secondary meaning as its mark.  The foundation responded that it “may” have a copyright interest in the design....

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Is next nexus in sight in gaming, entertainment?

Was it just a blink ago when the pollyanna part of the entertainment industry looked to video games and envisioned a klieg-lit bright future with Hollywood oh-so profitably working with gamers? Well, the brutal recession and other realities (the absence of hot new consoles, the rise of mobile gaming and more) have led to net profits declining again this year from 2011 in gaming, with consumers (click here for video gaming statistics) still spending $989 million total on games in August alone. But look beneath the surface: continuous technological change not only has altered expectations, it also is sowing seeds of potential for tomorrow, with some industry pundits focusing on interactive video gaming with its diverse group of players and ample elements of escapism. Augmented reality, in particular, is in the target sights of those who see an entertainment future. And so why is this guy in a recent New York Times piece wearing those funny goggles? What’s AR? What are the potential uses of augmented reality technology? Think of: the “holo-deck,” as imagined in the Star Trek television show and movies; military training simulations; and, of course, adult entertainment and other new features that could bring new life to Hollywood characters. This field is sure to provide many new issues for entertainment lawyers to exploit, resolve and litigate. (Click here to see a little on some of these legal...

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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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