Month: October 2012

‘Cablevision:’ a meaty ruling, sliced many ways

Where’s the beef? For audience members at a recent continuing legal education program put on by the Los Angeles County Bar Assn., it quickly became clear that it wasn’t just on the supper plate at Lawry’s Prime Rib but also on the agenda, as the discussion turned to a talk by Kenneth Steinthal, managing shareholder at the San Francisco litigation firm Greenberg Traurig. He shared some of his encyclopedic knowledge from more than 30 years in litigation with the 75 lawyers and law students in attendance, analyzing the Cablevision decision and its repercussions on the entertainment business. Cablevision was sued...

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Q-&-A: Dixon Dern, Emmys’ legal shield

Showtime’s terrorist thriller Homeland and ABC’s comedy Modern Family walked off with the top Emmy prizes recently, capping another busy year for the television industry. Dixon Q. Dern, Esq., the Academy’s counsel for 35 years, (left), chatted with the Biederman Blog recently to explain how he protects the Emmys brand during awards season and throughout the year. Fun fact: He’s not just their lawyer, he’s also a winner. Question — What are the intellectual property pillars of the Emmy? Answer — We have the Emmy mark and we have the Emmy statuette. Those are copyrighted, but copyright of a...

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Pandora prevails in class-action privacy suit

Senior U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong in Oakland has dismissed a privacy class-action lawsuit, Deacon v. Pandora Media Inc., without prejudice. Plaintiffs had asserted that Pandora violated two Michigan statutes, its Video Rental Privacy Act [a version of the federal Video Privacy Protection Act] and its Consumer Protection Act). They claimed that plaintiffs’ listening activity was disclosed to third parties (other users, nonsubscribers and Facebook friends). The court disagreed, finding that Pandora was not engaged in “selling… renting… or lending…sound recordings” in violation of the video rental privacy act. Pandora does not charge subscribers to listen to songs; songs are temporarily stored on a user’s computer to “facilitate the streaming process” and then deleted. The judge noted that Pandora holds only a public performance license to stream music, which is inconsistent with “selling at retail, renting or lending” sound recordings as required in the 1988 Michigan statute. The court also dismissed the consumer protection claim, because, under the statute, only “a person who suffers loss…may bring a class action” and the court found that the plaintiff had not claimed any actual damages. Plaintiffs may amend their claim and Jay Edelson of Edelson McGuire LLC, representing Deacon,  said he was “looking at the order and will either re-plead or appeal.” There is uncertainty how federal and state laws apply to modern technologies. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is considering a House of Representative’s  bid to update the 1998...

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Visualize this: possible new rights for artists

Is the nation ready for a federal resale royalty rate? Congress has asked the U.S. Copyright Office to review how current copyright law affects and supports artists and public comments will be taken until close of business on Nov. 5.  At issue is whether visual artists who can sell and profit from an original work should do so in a fashion more akin to other creative types (musicians, authors, filmmakers) who financially benefit from every copy of their work sold. Artist resale royalty, sometimes known as droit de suite, is a right granted to artists or their heirs to receive a fee on  resale of their works each time a piece is re-sold during the artist’s lifetime. It also applies for a fixed time after artists’ deaths — two decades in California. The Golden State’s Civic Code provides that “Whenever a work of fine art is sold and the seller resides in California or the sale takes place in California, the seller or the seller’s agent shall pay to the artist … 5%of  … the sale.” [See Section 986.] Resale royalty laws exist in more than 30 countries, but in the United States,  California is the only state to have enacted legislation. This is a contentious issue and debate ragesover entitlement, enforcement, loss of competitive edge, length of term and other aspects of droit de suite. In Estate of Robert Graham v. Sotheby’s,...

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Country star wins OK to mosey to new label

It’s a perfect county saga: We brung him to the Big Dance, your honor, and now he don’t like us so much any more / He got ‘er done with our rivals / But we’re not lettin’ go, no, no / Not so, not so, the appeals judge said and banged the gavel ... With apologies for bad lyrics, the running dispute involving country superstar Tim McGraw, his original and a new label has resolved a key element with a recent appellate ruling. The case might provide insight both to aspiring talent about negotiating that first recording deal — and for big companies about changing circumstances with up-and-comers who rocket into industry elites. It has been almost a year since McGraw said he wanted to sign with a new label. That decision was greeted with unhappiness by Curb Records, his only label of two decades, which made it clear that it felt he hadn’t fully performed under his contract and sought court invention to stop him. The Tennessee Appeals Court stepped in recently, upholding a November, 2011, ruling by the Chancery Court denying Curb the court order it sought against the country crooner.  To no avail, Curb had sought to enjoin McGraw from signing with another label; Curb also sought damages for breach of contract. But the assertations that McGraw had failed to fulfill his contract obligations in full...

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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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