Month: July 2013

Adieu, adieu to aggressive anti-piracy law

After taking an aggressive stance against illegal music downloads in 2009 by passing the “Hadopi” law (Haute Autorité pour la Diffusion des Oeuvres et la Protection des droits sur Internet), France has gone more laissez-faire, opting, instead, to abandon its robust copyright infringement law for automated fines. Under Hadopi, French internet users faced revocation of access if caught illegally downloading copyrighted material three times. Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French leader, saw full-bore enforcement as a way to prevent lawlessness on the net but the stringent measures he backed got caught up quickly in acrimony, with the Constitutional Council, the nation’s highest judicial body, declaring net access a basic human right. Hadopi’s basic effectiveness also has been called into question; it has resulted in but prosecution of a net user since its passage. Still, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a key French trade group, claimed that the law’s mere introduction led to a 22.5 percent increase in purchases on Apple’s iTunes (instead of, it is presumed, comparable illegal downloading activity). In a press release, French officials announced the nation now would focus on penalizing “commercial piracy” and websites profiting from piracy. Aurélie Filippetti, the minister of culture and communication, has called the three-strike system “totally inappropriate punishment.” In its place, France will put in an automatic system that assesses fines, starting at €60 and increasing with the number...

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On 3 different matters, it’s a naysayers’ moment

It’s not the proverbial “a thousand times ‘No,’ ” but: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has rejected without discussion broadcasters’ request for reconsideration by judges en banc of a recent decision clearing copyright infringement claims against Aereo, the start-up streaming broadcaster that has gone on the offensive to assert the legality of its service;  U.S. Circuit Judges Denny Chinn and Richard C Wesley dissented from the decision, supported by ten others on the appellate bench, including Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs. An investment analyst sees problems for consumers and the broadcast industry if  a la carte options advance, allowing audiences to pick and choose programming rather than paying the ever-increasing, often sports-driven costs of bundled subscription packages. The lawyers at Prenda Law, chastised already by Otis Wright, a Star Trek-inspired U.S. District Judge in Los Angeles and a Southwestern Law School alum, have found the courts getting frostier, frostier and frostier to them and their mass-filings of copyright infringement actions against unnamed parties who downloaded porn that parties at the firm acquired rights to and may have posted; the evolving case files show that Prenda offered to settle its many claims if those about to be publicly shamed for downloading blue material would cough up some green — typically a few thousand...

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A call for caution on a music industry deal

While 360 deals have become a staple in the music industry, they remain elusive to the very artists who are signed to them.  Steve Gordon,  an entertainment attorney with more than two decades’ experience as Director of Business Affairs at Sony Music and representing clients such as MTV and Music Choice, has outlined the major dos and don’ts artists must know before entering these agreements. With the income generated from the music recording industry dropping roughly from $14.5 billion dollars in 1999 to $7 billion in 2012, record labels — in an attempt to recoup some revenue — have adopted the 360 degree deal instead traditional recording contracts when signing new artists.  While it has similar components — such as ownership of artist recordings, multi-album options and standard royalty deductions — the 360 deal also allows labels to share in all their artists’ entertainment revenue streams, besides record sales.  These  streams include music publishing, merchandising, touring and endorsements; these once were the sole province for the creatives. The pros and cons to the 360 deal?  For the label, it’s a way to better guarantee the return of its investment in developing artists’ careers.  Before your favorites became household names, the labels they signed with  fronted sums to pay for producers, promotions, music videos and more. The labels, with tough times prevailing in the industry, argue that they build celebrity...

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Caveat emptor: boilerplate, online contracts

With the popularity of do-it-yourself legal services, many filmmakers, writers and artists opt to find entertainment-related contracts online, documents filled with boilerplate language.  While the attraction to this practice is understandable for the budget conscious, warning: big savings in the beginning can lead to huge, bad financial liabilities later — and longer. Creative types may find themselves regretting their lack of understanding of industry-specific terms or “customs and practices” of a trade, especially when these are locked into standard, form agreements available online for free or for a relatively small fee. With technology advancing so swiftly and affecting entertainment and media content, it is more important than ever to work with experienced entertainment attorneys to draft contracts and other legal documents says Gordon P. Firemark, an entertainment attorney and Southwestern Law School adjunct faculty member in a more detailed discussion...

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Feast or famine for entertainment industry in consumers’ summer of multiplying choices?

Call it the summer of the entertainment industry’s diss — more discontent, disintermediation or disruptive, technology-based change. For legal counsel, based on various reports, the details matter more than ever: how agreements get put together, what they spell out and how they’re enforced. But with yet more options available to them, consumers are roiling markets by making choices and their selectivity about content, their a la carte picks in music and television broadcasting, are threatening some industry players while rewarding others. Much ado has been made about the latest question in music: Is Apple ready to put its market-devouring bite on online radio by snacking on Pandora and Spotify with  iTunes Radio? A recent, leaked copy of Apple’s contract with independent record labels has surfaced, detailing the functions and royalty payment deals that may put the Cupertino company, known for its tech innovations, ahead of its competition with its attention not to design but finance. And what’s going on with television, as cable and satellite subscription-based services see increasing costs, consolidation and confront huge change in the form of technology and “cable cutters?” The disruption of digital radio: Apple v. Spotify, Pandora Like Pandora, with its personalized stations based on the artist, track or genre entered by users, iTunes Radio provides “pre-programmed playlists” as well as offerings or stations with user-created playlists. But iRadio, unlike other online radio stations,...

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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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