Month: April 2014

50 Cent rings up partial win over hip hop site

When hip hop artist, 50 Cent, first hit the music scene, many joked about his name and thought he would not last. But it looks like the joke’s on them as “50” has risen to the top, turning his rap career into a business empire, including a record label and clothing line, both labeled G-Unit, and an entertainment company, Tomorrow Today Entertainment. So when World Star Hip Hop, a website dedicated to hip hop culture, used Jackson’s and other G-Unit member’s images and likenesses without permission, you better believe “50” was all over that. The rap artist-actor, who is quickly becoming famously known by his birth name, Curtis Jackson, sued World Star for copyright infringement, violation of his publicity rights, and trademark infringement. The intellectual property at issue includes photos of Jackson and G-Unit members, Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo, from their albums Beg for Mercy and Thoughts of a Predicate Felon, and the “G-Unit” trademark. The court granted summary judgment in part for Jackson on his copyright infringement claim and his right of publicity claim, however, the court found that issues of genuine facts exist under Jackson’s trademark infringement claim. Copyright, publicity concerns As to the copyright claim, the court found infringement. World Star contested the validity of G-Unit’s registration. It argued that an incorrect form was used to register pictorial matter with the sound recordings; the court...

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‘Oh, Really?’ Naughty judges and ‘Mother’

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. With tens of millions of TV viewers tuned this week to see the answer to the nine-year question posed by the series How I Met Your Mother, for judicious reasons it’s a good time to reflect on this show’s episode titled Twelve Horny Women. Sitcom lawyer Marshall Eriksen, as played by Jason Segel, should have a slam-dunk case but cannot get anywhere with the judge or jury because opposing counsel, his law school pal Brad Morris (portrayed by Joe Manganiello), flexes his sculpted muscles, flashes his pearly white smile, and lures the all-female-jury with romance novel good looks. He woos all in the courtroom with his story of heartbreak after being recently dumped by his longtime girlfriend. And not even the judge can resist — he allows Brad to act in this manner and even encourages it.  In one scene, Brad drops his pen to the floor, and when he goes to pick it up, he does so by flaunting his back-side to the judge and jury, then, slowly and seductively picks the pen up.  A frustrated Marshall says, “Objection!” yet the judge, with a grin on his face, gleam in his...

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Get it in writing? It’s a $1 million Geraldo tale

What happens as an actor if your agent leaves his agency? Do you go with your agent? Or are you considered an actor for the agency? As the recent ruling shows in a New York state case involving William Morris Endeavor v.  Geraldo Rivera, a little bit of writing can be worth a lot — say, $1 million in commissions the agency said it was owed by the Fox television news host. Rivera’s agent, Jim Griffin, left William Morris in 2009, but the agency asserts that the broadcast personality should continue to pay it 10 percent of his gross compensation, says the Hollywood Reporter. Rivera in 2005 signed a four-year agreement, which was renewed in 2009 for three more years.  The agency claimed that Rivera owed it commissions from February, 2010, to December, 2011. The two parties had signed an AFTRA Contract on Oct. 14, 1985, giving the agency a ten percent commission from this client. Rivera renewed in September, 1994, and his contract “made clear that only Jim Griffin was to be responsible for handling my representation… and that the Agreement would terminate if Griffin did not remain at WM.” Rivera further said he struck names of other agency employees proposed in the September, 1994, AFTRA contract, designating only Griffin. The court in New York rejected the agency commissions for two reasons: (1) The state statute of frauds...

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Court tosses much of a ‘Curve’ claim

Baseball is back and with  opening day officially launched on Monday, fans of  the Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies and Seattle Mariners were not the only sports enthusiasts  with reason to celebrate. Warner Bros. scored a home run when a U.S. District Court in Southern California recently granted WB’s motion for summary judgment because plaintiffs Gold Glove Productions and writer Ryan Brooks had failed to meet their burden in showing that Brooks’ Omaha was substantially similar to Trouble with the Curve, written by Randy Brown and starring Clint Eastwood.  The court stated, “that any similarities between the two works are not protectable as a matter of copyright law.”  (Thanks to Loeb & Loeb, LLP., the court’s full opinion can be reviewed here.) Brooks and Gold Glove Productions sued WB in October, 2013, asserting that Curve intentionally infringed his copyrighted screenplay, Omaha. When reviewing the issue of whether the works were substantially similar, the District Court followed the guidance of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in employing two tests — the “intrinsic test” and the “extrinsic test,” and “[a]t summary judgment, courts apply only the extrinsic test.”  “The extrinsic test…focuses on articulable similarities between the plot, themes, dialogue, mood, setting, pace, characters, and sequence of events in two works….A court must take care to inquire only whether the protect[able] elements, standing alone, are substantially similar.”  And “[c]opyright...

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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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