Month: February 2014

EU investigates Hollywood’s TV exclusives

Winter is coming! exclaimed Amedia, a Russian film company that signed a five-year output deal with HBO, giving it exclusive rights to some of the most popular series of the U.S. cable network: Game of Thrones (which features a plot line involving ominous chaos in a snowy northern and frigid clime) Newsroom, Girls, True Blood and Boardwalk Empire. But trouble also may be brewing in international pay TV.  The European Union’s Antitrust Commission — which bared its fangs in a just-settled dispute with search engine giant Google — is opening an investigation into whether major U.S. film studios’ contract clauses and practice of granting exclusivity to content through online streaming and pay television violate the EU’s anti-competition laws. Studios — including 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Sony, NBC Universal and Paramount — “license audiovisual content to pay-TV broadcasters” such as, BSkyB, France’s Canal Plus, Sky Italia, Sky Deutschland and Spain’s DTS, on an exclusive and territorial basis.  As reported by EntLawDigest.com, in the Premiere League / Murphy cases, the Court of Justice held that exclusive television licensees of soccer matches  “killed both competition and the ongoing dream of a single EU market by creating division along member-state border lines.” And according to The Hollywood Reporter, “The provisions granting absolute territorial protection ensure that the films licensed by the U.S. studios are shown exclusively in the member state where each broadcaster operates...

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Courtney’s ‘Twibel’ tribulations, triumph

Courtney, oh, Courtney: As some had hoped, the much-hyped case brought by your onetime lawyer against you for libel by Twitter — said to be the first such matter to go to trial — ended with an L.A. jury recently showing you some Love and awarding you a victory. Jurors had heard you in the eight-day trial describe yourself as a “computer retard,” inept at tech, upset, and accidentally hitting buttons so you publicly disparaged your counsel for ceasing to represent you. Yes, you killed out that f-bomb laden Tweet. You apparently cleared the bar for actual malice, especially as a social media expert testified on your behalf that there was little to show that your online slam had been re-Tweeted. But, alas, for your lawyer, just her association with you in a case in which you made claims against the estate of your late husband, rocker Kurt Cobain, well, that had made your counselor a limited public figure. And under existing libel law, of long-standing before anyone coined the notion of “Twibel,” that meant that the attorney-plaintiff in this case had a heavy burden to prevail, see that landmark 40-year-old case involving another unhappy lawyer named Elmer Gertz. So maybe Love’s latest case sets Twitter on par with other means of publishing, offering legal protections to freer expression, some say, and it has led some practitioners who tap...

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Timing’s decisive in a decade-long claim

Picture it: an escaped prison inmate assumes a new identity, only to learn his new persona is in deep trouble with ruthless, yet quirky mobsters.  Now flash to a story of a JAG investigator sent to discover  what happened when an American officer fired on civilians after they invaded the U.S. embassy in a Third World country.  And let’s end with a true tale of a family’s daring escape from Communist Hungry, the sacrifices they makes for a better life and the tough adjustments they must make when reunited.What do all of these plots and their films have in common?  They were at the core of the decade-long copyright claim involving  Seven Arts Entertainment and Paramount Pictures, a case recently slapped down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit  over timely ownership claims. More than three years before the case was filed, Seven Arts sent Paramount three cease and desist notices asserting lawful ownership to copyrights for Rules of Engagement, Who Is Cletus Tout? and An American Rhapsody.  Seven Arts demanded that it receive all royalty payments due.  However, as federal court would later underscore, Paramount “plainly and expressly repudiated” Seven Art’s copyright ownership by refusing to comply with its demand. Still, Seven Arts or its predecessor firms in interest, had trekked up and through an array of Canadian and U.S. courts, arguing their issues, starting...

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