Month: February 2013

Why did Lohan lawyer take a hit in losing case?

The hits, legal or otherwise, can’t stop coming for troubled actress Lindsay Lohan: a U.S. District Court in New York dismissed Lohan’s lawsuit, which claimed violations of that state’s privacy laws, against recording artist Pitbull (nee Armando Christian Perez), his record company and others for using her name in a song. The track, Give Me Everything, includes the following line (of sheer lyrical genius?): “So, I’m tiptoein’, to keep flowin’, I got it locked up, like Lindsay Lohan.” The court also dismissed Lohan’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. Of particular interest to entertainment law practitioners, though, also may be what the miffed court decided about her counsel. At issue was New York Civil Rights Law Section 50, which makes it a misdemeanor to use the name of a living person for advertising or trade purposes without first getting their written consent, and Section 51, which provides victims of Section 50 an equitable action in court. Section 50 and 51 are narrowly construed to allow an action only if the use was for advertising purposes or trade purposes. In the decision, courtesy of THR, esq., U.S. District Judge Denis Hurley denied Lohan relief on two grounds. First, he held that the song was a work of art, entitling it to First Amendment protection. Second, the judge agreed with defendants that just because the song is made and sold for profit does not mean the use of Lohan’s name...

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YouTube dukes it out over German copyrights

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to tonight’s legal, online puglistic ticket for your entertainment: On the left we have YouTube, the ubiquitous video-sharing service that boasts billions of views each month. On the right, we have GEMA, the German Society for musical performing and mechanical reproduction rights, which represents more than 64,000 German copyrights for composers, lyricists and music publishers. Although both sides have similar goals of protecting the rights of creatives, they have been slugging it out in bitter legal battles for more than a half dozen years over a multitude of issues including negotiations, litigation/arbitration and the media. The analysts’ scorecard on the fights, thus far, looks like this: ROUND 1:  Negotiation. Even though a two-year license agreement lapsed between the parties, they have not been able to come to a subsequent understanding, namely over “equitable renumeration.” They are deadlocked as to whether YouTube will pay GEMA per view or whether YouTube instead will pay GEMA a portion of the ad revenue. As of January, 2013, no further movement has occurred in their talks. ROUND 2: Litigation / Arbitration. GEMA filed a test case in the District Court of Hamburg, seeking liability for copyright infringement by YouTube when a dozen songs were uploaded without permission. Though the court said YouTube could not be held primarily liable, the judge found that the Google subsidary could be secondarily liable because “after...

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Be warned: new anti-piracy steps kicking in

Warning, warning: The Copyright Alert System launches this week after it was delayed last fall. The system allows the nation’s five largest internet service providers — including Verizon and Time Warner — to send warnings to its users who illegally share music, movies and television shows via peer-to-peer software. Specifically, the system targets average consumers, as opposed to rampant violators. Each service provider can implement its own system, but the general framework calls for the so-called “six strikes” plan. After copyright owners detect illegal file-sharing, they file a complaint with the service provider, which, in turn, warns the violating user. The initial alerts are expected to be primarily educational. The third and fourth alerts, however, are expected to require the user to acknowledge receipt of earlier warnings and wrongdoing. What happens if customers fail to heed these ISP tut-tut-tuts? Their provider, after a final warning, could put the brakes on or cut off their service. How will the service providers put the system in effect? Let’s look at Time Warner, which plans on sending its initial warnings via email, with a redirect on the third and fourth warnings to a stern landing page when offenders open their browser. Those final warnings will come with a block on web access, along with a phone number to call to restore Internet access. Customers who argue they were wrongly accused can appeal for a...

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Magician conjures self into Teller’s illusion suit

A Dutch magician couldn’t play Houdini to get himself out of a complaint filed in Las Vegas, claiming copyright infringement.  The U.S. District Court in Sin City said the magician, though he evaded service, acknowledged the American legal action against him in his own counter-action in Europe, filed reply motions in the U.S., and received due notice of the complaint via email. This gives the U.S. federal court jurisdiction over Gerard Bakardy, aka Dogge, the defendant in a lawsuit filed by Raymond Teller, best-known as half of the magical Penn & Teller act, over a copyright-protected illusion called “Shadows.” Teller registered his illusion with the copyright office in 1993. For it to be copyrighted, it had to be an original work, fixed in a tangible medium of expression, which would be a pantomime under copyright law. Teller claims to have created it as a teenager in his bedroom and since has performed it thousands of times for Vegas audiences. In the trick, the magician appears to cut the leaves from a projected shadow of a vase of flowers; those leaves simultaneously are seen falling from the actual flower standing before the projector screen. A European magician who calls himself Dogge and whose real name is Gerard Bakardy created a video of himself performing an illusion titled, ‘The Rose & Her Shadow.’ It is similar to ‘Shadows’ and offers $3,050...

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Game over for Axl Rose’s ‘Guitar Hero’ suit

Axl Rose, Former Guns N’ Roses front man, has failed in his attempt to exclude images of former band mate Slash from the “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock” video game.  Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles Palmer dismissed the remaining part of Rose’s lawsuit, which asserted that Activision Blizzard Inc. fraudulently induced him into authorizing the use of “Welcome to the Jungle” in the Guitar Hero III video game by promising that neither Slash nor his band Velvet Revolver would appear in the game. Slash’s image was used on the cover of the game and as an avatar in the actual game, in which players could attempt to play the song “Welcome to the Jungle.”  Rose’s objections stem from the band’s breakup and long standing disputes dating back to 1996; according to his complaint, Rose believes Slash’s appearance causes fans confusion since he is no longer affiliated with the band. According to The Hollywood Reporter, GNR Music, which administers the publishing rights of Guns N’ Roses, licensed “Welcome to the Jungle” to Activision. The company argued  Rose had no authority to enter into a license individually, because he doesn’t own the song or sound recording, and, therefore, there could be no breach of contract. Rose contended that Wayne Milligan, who signed the synch license on behalf of GNR Music, also was acting as Rose’s personal agent. The judge...

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