Month: March 2014

Actor Azaria wins last laugh, legally speaking

Jim Brockmire is a legend in the booth, the old-school sports announcer from days of yore who was fired for his outrage over the radio after finding out his wife had an affair. Brockmire is known in the sports world as the plaid-coat wearing, red-tie rocking, red-rose sporting, bad-mouth talking (of his cheating wife), and movie-referencing play-by-play guy. He is, hands down, one of the best in his game, well, that is if you ask sports broadcasters. OK, seriously, Brockmire is just a character created by actor-comedian Hank Azaria — recognizably known as the voices of Moe, Apu, and Chief Wiggum on the hit television show The Simpsons. He sued actor Craig Bierko over ownership of the sports announcer voice, which both actors had been doing. And a federal court recently spoke up as to which voice mattered, legally speaking. Bierko claimed Azaria was using his “Sports Announcer Character” without permission. The two had met at a social gathering where Bierko did the voice for Azaria. There was talk of doing a project together using the voice but plans fell through. After Azaria started playing Brockmire character publicly, Bierko sent a cease-and-desist letter asserting Azaria was not authorized to use his “Sports Announcer Character.” In deciding Azaria’s suit against Bierko, U.S. District Judge Gary Allen Feess in Los Angeles granted summary judgment, finding that Azaria could copyright the Brockmire character but Bierko’s “Sports Announcer Character”...

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EU high court clarifies fair use of hyperlinks

The Court of Justice, the European Union’s highest judicial body, has ruled that the authorization of the rights holder is not required to link freely available copyrighted information from one site to another. The case, involving Swedish journalists upset over a site that indexed and pointed to their already posted works online, had been widely watched and was the cause for considerable online buzz. The  judges in Luxembourg decided the matter by considering whether the links provided a means by which a communication to the public occurs — and which, thus, is regulated under European law so originators (authors, composers or others who hold copyrights) must be consulted. The court said that because the materials already were freely available on one site, no new audiences were created, and, thus, the creators’ copyrights were not breached and they did not need to be consulted. If there are pay walls or other content protections, or if the links trace to original material as posted on secondary and not primary  sites, well, the European judges said that is different; those instances breach copyrights. While Hollywood also had kept an eye on this case , the Motion Picture Association of America welcomed the European decision, particularly as it dealt with linking to restricted material. As the Hollywood Reporter noted, the movie and music industries as well as performers of various kinds have battled...

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Videogamers zapped with a reading lesson

The devil’s in the details — and so was a federal judge’s recent decision, rejecting a claim by some impatient gamers, infuriated that they had to wait, gosh, two whole doggone weeks, before they could play with their new toy online. This case focuses on Grand Theft Auto V, the hot new game by Take Two and Rockstar Games that debuted recently. Well, besides hitting buttons and starting at screens, there’s a possible take-away from this matter for the tech crowd: reading’s good, especially the whole of materials and not just selections of prose. The litigious gamers, it seems, got bent out of shape, accusing the makers of  “fraudulent, unlawful, and unfair business practices,” because the latest version of Grand Theft, with an online multiplayer component, began selling on Sept. 17, 2013, though the players couldn’t get to the net features until Oct. 1, 2013. As evidence they were promised otherwise, the players’ suit cited the game packaging for the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony Playstation 4 versions of the game, as well as a dozen or so instances of media coverage of the game’s impending release. Legally speaking, the unhappy consumers had to: (1) establish a loss or deprivation of money or property sufficient to qualify as injury in fact and (2) show that the economic injury was the result of unfair business practice or false advertising. They...

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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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