Month: November 2013

Use of Beastie tunes ‘dope?’ Nope, court says

Monster Energy Drinks contended that receiving “dope” in an email constituted permission to use a Beastie Boy master mix. A federal court in New York thought otherwise. Here’s the background: Zach Sciacca, know as DJ “Z-Trip,” created a master mix of Beastie Boys songs and made it available on his website for free download. DJ Z Trip had permission to publish this master mix. Monster is known for using hip-hop music and celebrities to market their product. In 2012, Monster reached out to DJ Z-Trip to request a song for a new promotional video. DJ Z-Trip sent them to his website to download the master mix of Beastie Boy songs he created. Monster then sent DJ Z Trip the video it created, which included the master mix; he responded “Dope.” So when Beastie Boys sued Monster for copyright infringement, the company sued DJ Z trip for fraudulently representing he had rights to provide permission to let Monster use the song. DJ Z Trip’s response to Monster? He asserted that “as a matter of law, he could not contract with Monster authorizing its use of the Beastie Boys recordings on his Megamix, because (1) he  lacked  apparent  authority  to  issue  a  license  for  the  Beastie  Boys’   music and (2) his perfunctory exchanges with Phillips cannot be read to reflect agreement on material terms of such a license.” He sought...

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Law seeks harmony for airborne instruments

Attention airborne musicians: Are flight crews or an airline forcing you to check your axe? Instead of burning and fiddling a sad song on the world’s smallest violin, know your legal options under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Section 41724. After of lobbying by the union, the American Federation of Musicians, President Obama sent a valentine to performers, signing on Feb. 14, 2012, a 145-page law in which airlines are told that they “shall permit a passenger to carry a…musical instrument in the aircraft cabin, without charging the passenger a fee in addition to any standard fee that carrier may require for comparable carry-on baggage, if…[the instrument] can be stowed safely…and [if] there is pace for such stowage at the time the passenger boards the aircraft.” Under this legislation, guitar-sized instruments (or smaller) can be go on an aircraft at no extra charge. Instruments larger than a guitar can be allowed on board if owners buy a seat for that tuba, cello or whatever the precious musical cargo might be. Many have praised this law, calling it “great news for professional musicians throughout the U.S. and Canada.” The legislation has won applause for assisting traveling musicians in protecting their means of livelihood and art and bringing an end to the “confusion over musical instruments as carry-on baggage,” though troubling incidents continue to crop up, affecting artists...

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‘Soul man’ film suit gets the appellate boot

Grammy-winning musician Sam Moore, one of the original “Soul Men,” recently lost his high-profile trademark battle at the appellate level against The Weinstein Co. LLC and MGM Studios Inc., ringing in another big Hollywood win. Moore was half of the successful soul duo, Sam & Dave, known for hits such as Soul Man and Hold On, I’m Comin. He sued the defendants over the 2008 film, Soul Men and its soundtrack. Among his many claims, Moore asserted that the movie, starring Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac, was an appropriation of his life story for defendants’ monetary gain. He also said the film’s soundtrack violated his interest in the song, Soul Man, and his common law trademarks in the phrases “Soul Man” and “Soul Men” – to name a few. Last year, a federal judge in Tennesse dismissed the suit and Moore appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which recently affirmed the lower court ruling and dismissed all of Moore’s claims. In rejecting Moore’s claim the movie was an appropriation of his life, the appellate court noted that even if he could prove this, the First Amendment nevertheless protected the movie because it “without a doubt…added significant expressive elements to any purported use of Moore’s identity.” The court also dismissed his claim that the use of the phrase “Soul Men” was a misappropriation...

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Filmmaker wins a First Amendment shield

Joyce McKinney, a onetime Wyoming beauty queen who once captured screaming headlines in British tabloids over a sordid sex case, recently became a legal footnote, as a California appellate court tossed out much of her lingering lawsuit against noted documentary filmmaker Errol Morris. Elizabeth Grimes, a state appellate judge, found that Morris’ documentary about McKinney, was a work protected by First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. The court also noted that the film’s topic, indeed, was newsworthy – one of public interest – and that McKinney was a limited-purpose public figure who voluntarily involved herself into the story when she agreed to be part of the documentary. McKinney’s suit had its roots in a tawdry tale that blew up more than three decades ago, when the British tabloids launched into a frenzy over claims that she had a role in abducting and sexually abusing what she claimed was her fiance — he a Mormon missionary, who told police she had chained him to a bed in a country cottage and forced him into sex. The former Miss Wyoming swore that the tabloids made up the entire tale, dubbed by some, the “manacled Mormon” case. More than three decades later, she attempted to clear her name. In 2008, McKinney was approached by Morris, an Oscar-winning American filmmaker, to see if she wanted to be interviewed about the tabloid press....

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Fo’shizzle, here’s a site for some legal giggles

Need a break from reading that thick case over and over again? Check out,  which reports is “a website that converts web pages into Snoop-speak.” When checking out, you will find it has no relation to Google and the site strives to ensure that everyone knows this (must avoid trademark infringement).  But if you’re researching cases and need entertainment, try reading your case in “Snoop language.” Rapper Snoop Dog, now known as Snoop Lion, aka Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., rapper-entertainer extraordinaire, has popularized his own patois, adding an “izzle” to the end of his words. will take your text, izzle them and add other slang, providing a rapper translation. There’s even an app so you can “tranzizzle” at any time. translated some  legal cases already for your entertainment. Be warned, there’s much profanity, so check it out carefully if you’re in a staid law...

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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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