Month: March 2013

A novel way to say ‘aloha’ to entertainment law

  Biederman Blog Editor Sherrie Fields, who shot the video above (with music, courtesy JD Lang), reports on Southwestern Law School’s novel intersession program, in which students study Entertainment Law or Alternative Dispute Resolution aboard a Hawaiian cruise. Those who wish to learn more about the program after reading her post may click here: For those who couldn’t decide whether to spend winter break relaxing on a tropical island or in a classroom earning units, Southwestern Law School’s Second Annual Hawaii Intersession Cruise offered a great way to do both.  During the 14-day cruise, students enrolled in either the programs on Entertainment Law or Alternative Dispute Resolution, earned three units of credit, while also enjoying ship-board amenities and visiting four of the Hawaiian Islands. What’s this aloha experience like?During the first evening aboard, students attend an orientation to meet and get acquainted with their professors and other program participants.  “Apart from the instruction, the program provides the students with a unique opportunity to get to know one another,” says Neil Ollivierra, a Hollywood executive and program lecturer. “Networking for job opportunities should begin during law school, not after, and should extend to your classmates, many of whom may have incredible resources with respect to job opportunities.” Classes run daily from 9 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon, with sessions meeting in a dining room reserved for the program.  The...

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‘Village People’ singer’s rights suit dances on

While disco has been dead for years, a counterclaim filed by the original lead singer of the Village People against the group’s music publishers lives: A U.S. District Court in Los Angeles has California denied a motion to dismiss a counterclaim filed by Scorpio Music S.A. and Can’t Stop Productions Inc. against performer Victor Willis. He allegedly was hired by Scorpio, a music publisher, and Can’t Stop, a sub-publisher owned by Scorpio, between 1977-1979, to translate the lyrics of and/or create new lyrics for certain musical compositions that were owned and published in France by Scorpio.  The 70’s anthem Y.M.C.A. is one of 33 registered copyrighted musical compositions that list Willis as one of several writers.  He signed an adaption agreement transferring all of his interests in the works copyright to Can’t Stop, which, in turn, transferred its rights to the lyrics to Scorpio. In 2011, however, Willis unilaterally terminated those grants of copyrights, which prompted the publishers to sue. They first challenged his right to terminate unilaterally, because these were joint works under the 1976 Copyright Act.  The court ruled in Willis’ favor, holding that “a joint author who separately transfers his copyright interest may unilaterally terminate the grant.”   The Copyright Act of 1976 gives authors the right to terminate a transfer of copyright by serving an advanced notice of termination. An author may terminate the grant at...

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3 nations assailed on piracy, market barriers

The International Intellectual Property Alliance has issued its annual report to the U.S. Trade Representative, underscoring copyright piracy and market access barriers for American intellectual property owners abroad. The alliance — representing U.S. copyright industries, including the Recording Industry Association of America — highlighted 49 countries in its annual “Special 301” survey. Which countries drew American criticism?In a statement by the recording group, China and Russia were called out as the most egregious wrongdoers (“…levels of piracy…essentially eclipse the output of the legitimate sector”). Russia’s legitimate music market shrunk 30% in 2011, despite the abundance of legal services available. Russia: Social networking site vKontakte has been flagged before and is responsible for much of Russia’s piracy. The U.S. recording group urges the Russian government to pass laws and regulations to prevent companies from actively and passively promoting infringement. China: The U.S. report says piracy and regulatory restrictions have stifled the Chinese music market, which generated only $82.8 million in 2011 versus the $1 billion American experts estimate it should make. The U.S. group decries the lack of action against those who infringe and a regulatory structure riddled with “discriminatory measures” that make it hard to run legal music platforms. Ukraine: This year’s Section 301 recommended that Ukraine added to the “Priority Foreign Country” list, thereby preventing it from receiving Generalized System of Preferences benefits. It should be interesting to see whether the countries adopt more legal streaming...

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Broadcasters in Europe win key streaming case

Chalk one up for broadcasters in the ongoing saga of Internet streaming: the European Union’s Court of Justice has issued a preliminary ruling, finding that streaming broadcast television via the Internet is a “performance to the public,” requiring copyright owner consent. The Thursday decision spells trouble for London-based TVCatchup, which had operated on the belief that it streams broadcast television to its subscribers non-publicly. So far in U.S. district courts, broadcasters have received a similar ruling in California (Fox Television Stations v. Aereokiller), but an opposite one in New York (ABC v. Aereo).  What are key takeaways in the European decision? Examining the EU’s Information Society Directive, which seeks to harmonize copyright in the information society, the EU’s highest court concluded that the primary objective of the directive is to provide authors a high level of protection. Further, the court held that “communication to the public” should be interpreted broadly, per the express language of Recital 23 in the directive’s preamble (“all communication to the public not present at the place where the communication originates”). Finally, the Court found that it is irrelevant that TVCatchup’s users access the works through a one-to-one connection because a large number of the public still have access to the same works simultaneously. The concurrent U.S. cases, Aereo and Aereokiller (see above), feature similar issues (breadth of the public performance right, whether a one-to-one connection using unique copies renders the performance non-public). One obvious distinction is that the EU directive places greater...

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Can Spotify stay both legal, profitable in U.S.?

Is Spotify the answer to cyber music-sharing prayers of fans and the entertainment industry alike? Perhaps. The site allows legal music-streaming at different levels of subscriptions, paid and non-paid. In a world of rampant online piracy, however, can a legal site like Spotify fulfill investors’ demands that it be profitable, especially as it moves to renegotiate and surmount the challenges of paying U.S. licensing fees? In a boost to its brand, Spotify also received a stamp of approval from a recording industry trade group, which urged Congress to lift its block on the service on the U.S. House of Representatives’ network. The Recording Industry Association of America called Spotify a “licensed, secure online music streaming...

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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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