Month: February 2014

‘Oh, Really?’ Ethics shattered in 2 professions?

In ‘Oh, Really?’ the Biederman Blog’s editors — voracious consumers of all matters pop culture — cast a curious, skeptical, fun and smart end-of-the-week eye on popular productions, sharing their keen observations about legal matters these raise. He’s a fresh-faced, eager but ruthlessly ambitious guy who somehow also manages to be nice, likable and accomplished. He’s also more than a little furtive, mysterious and slippery. And the actor who captures all these characteristics — a star who also portrayed a youthful warrior who would morph into one of the notorious, tortured Freudian villains of pop culture — has won praise for putting a personable, accessible and bespectacled face on the practice of pathological lying. Why is it worth revisiting actor Hayden Christensen as scribe Stephen Glass in the critically acclaimed but relatively low-grossing flick Shattered Glass? Well, when truth turns into fiction, fiction shows truth and the truth becomes an object of scorn, this must be a mix of Washington, Hollywood and San Francisco or journalism, movies, the law and commentary. And who knew that the odious practices of one craft, chronicled in a movie three years ago, would be resurrected in a California Supreme Court rebuke and then would subject the legal profession to its own tut-tut-ing over  its bad actors? The plot begins Let’s flash back: Stephen Glass earned notoriety, especially in the navel-gazing world of Washington...

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3-D printing opens a thorny, new legal frontier

It prompted a take-down demand from the folks behind Tintin, a cease-and-desist command from those associated with Game of Thrones and no less than the President paused to give it a shout-out in his recent State of the Union: 3-D printing and printers are not just here, they’re falling in price, becoming a more ubiquitous technology and they’re just starting to become a potential new sore spot for Hollywood and creative types concerned about protecting intellectual property. Fernando Sosa found this out when he got a much-publicized cease-and-desist letter from HBO over his 3-D-printed, Game of Thrones-inspired cellphone dock. And while some museums seem intrigued about the possibility of others outside their institutions creating 3-D replicas of great art works in public collections, Thingverse.com, an online exchange for digital designs for 3-D printers, got zinged with a take-down notice from Moulinsart, owners of the rights to Tintin, over some holiday ornaments that look like the famed cartoon character’s moon rocket. (Those designs are still up, by the way.) Costs fall, conflicts rise As 3D printers become more affordable, ranging anywhere from just under $1,000 to more than $3,000, intellectual property owners are raising alarm and legal minds are offering early guidance to avert conflict. Sites such as Thingiverse.com and instructables.com which provide blueprints to help 3-D printers build anything, make it hard for IP owners to recover from. 3D...

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Discord over jazz recordings ends in blue note

It was a whirlwind romance between the owner of a famed Manhattan club and a notable jazz vocalist. And as even a rueful ruling court would note, it was, perhaps, destined to fail. Love first blossomed as an older club owner, John Valenti, introduced the younger talented beauty, Hilary Kole, to the world-renowned jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson. Soon the two musicians began work for a duets album, with Kole on the vocals and Peterson on the keys. Magic was in the air as the two recorded a dozen takes of four jazz vocal standards, but, as fate would have it in the world of copyright law, ownership disagreement ensued: Kelly Peterson, the executrix of Oscar Peterson’s estate, and Jayarvee Inc., owned and operated by Valenti, brought a copyright infringement suit against Kole when she arranged to have one of the unpublished songs played on blogtalkradio.com. Kole — who has recorded or performed with Dave Brubeck, Michel Legrand, John Pizzarelli, David Frishberg, Monty Alexander, Benny Green, Freddy Cole, Alan Broadbent, Cedar Walton — counter-claimed seeking declaration of copyright ownership. Peterson and Jayarvee registered the edited sound recordings while Kole subsequently registered the original sound recordings. It was disputed as to whether the vocalist transferred her rights in the sound recordings to Valenti, her lover and owner of the legendary Birdland jazz club, during their seven-year relationship. Valenti claimed Kole signed over her interests when she...

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This infringement claim deemed expendable

The Expendables is a “gunfire-riddled ‘pure action flick’ ” straight out of the 1980’s with its many explosions, gunfights and fellas with bulging biceps littered with tattoos and skulls. And, oh, yes, the tough guys in this movie are maybe a bit mossy, too: Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Lei, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Jean Claude Van Damme. They’re supposed to be hard-bitten mercenaries, taking names and whooping on foes as a rock soundtrack throbs in the background. And how is this all substantially similar to a film plot with tough women, horseback galavanting in Latin America and characters who use their smarts to pull off a nifty crime? Not at all, said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, as it upheld a federal district court’s tossing Marcus Webb’s claims of copyright infringment against Stallone and others over the screenplay for The Cordoba Caper. The appellate court said that Webb, to establish infringement, had to prove:  “(1) ownership of a valid copyright, and (2) copying of constituent elements of the work that are original.”  To show copying had occurred, he had to prove:  (1) actual copying of his work by the defendant and (2) that such copying equaled an improper appropriation of the Webb’s work. To demonstrate improper appropriation, Webb had to demonstrate “substantial similarity.”  When reviewing substantial similarity, the court compared “the contested design’s...

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‘Oh, Really?’ Smart law and ‘Dumb Starbucks’

In ‘Oh, Really?’ the Biederman Blog’s editors — voracious consumers of all matters pop culture — cast a curious, skeptical, fun and smart end-of-the-week eye on popular productions, sharing their keen observations about legal matters these raise. Blog editors Karen Hao and Kasia Campbell investigated a bit of L.A. street theater for this piece: With the online buzz and media blitz that comedian Nathan Fielder whipped into a perfect latte froth with his “Dumb Starbucks Coffee” shop in the trendy Loz Feliz area, it might have seemed as if he cured cancer or created a crazy way to take a common daily drink that should cost a few bits and make us all pay gazillions for it. No, wait, just like some hipster java haven,  it was not long before crowds of people (including the authors of this post) waited in line for hours to get “dumb coffee” at his pop-up creation and to see what the fuss was all about. Would it be dumb and dumber to rely, as Fielder asserted he did, on “parody law” to circumvent the Starbucks’ trademark and to capitalize on an addictive brand? Maybe he just needed a way to promote his upcoming Comedy Central show, “Nathan for You?” Or maybe he wanted law-watchers to consider smartly some intellectual property issues of his brilliantly dumb stunt, which health officials shuttered just days after...

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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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