Month: September 2014

Will Turtles’ win be a rights game-changer?

Who says the old guys can’t rock still? The not always so happy Flo & Eddie have sent a tremor rolling through digital radio land recently, winning on summary judgment against Sirius XM Radio for broadcasting and streaming their music without permission. Flo & Eddie is a corporation owned by the two founding members of the music group The Turtles, best known for once crooning about the pleasure of their shared company (see above). Flo & Eddie sued Sirius for the unauthorized (1) public performances and (2) reproduction of its sound records by broadcasting and streaming content to end consumers and operating its satellite and Internet radio services. After considering both arguments, a federal judge in Los Angeles granted Flo & Eddie’s motion for summary judgment for all claims pertaining to Sirius XM’s public performance, but not the reproduction claims. This is an important case because it shows how the courts will treat copyright claims pertaining to pre-1972 works as their copyright protection periods expire, and the work falls into the public domain. The court ruling will likely bring more litigation from performers like The Turtles. Moreover, similar rulings may encourage SiriusXM, Pandora, and other similar companies to lobby Congress for new copyright laws covering pre-1972 music. Though this is a decision in just one case, analysts have pointed out that the Turtles’ judgment provides important insight as to...

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Why do U.S. TV networks kick up the costs for the rights to World Cup, other global sports?

Faculty adviser to Southwestern’s International Law Society, Professor Robert E. Lutz (left) has encouraged a fun discussion for students, faculty and practicing attorneys called Stammtisch, which is German for “main table” and connotes an informal, friendly group meeting held regularly. At the Sept. 17 Stammtisch, Professor Warren S. Grimes (right) of the law school sparked an invigorating discussion on his work concerning the cost of FIFA’s World Cup viewership rights internationally. ‪In the 2014 World Cup, the United States television networks, specifically, ABC/ESPN and Univision, paid roughly $212.5 million for broadcast rights. This compares to an estimated $205 million...

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Netflix urges FCC to block net mega-merger

Mergers are like marriages and sometimes all the related parties do not agree with the union. Since Comcast and Time Warner announced their proposed merger early last year, Netflix has publicly opposed this deal, calling the Comcast-Time Warner merger “anti-competitive.” Netflix has recently taken a more official step by submitting a Petition to Deny with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Also, sixty-five other organizations representing consumers and content producers have submitted similar notices of opposition. In its petition, Netflix — which many industry watchers note already has created its own revolution in the broadcast world — argues that the merger would provide the proposed giant company monopolistic power with control over half the U.S. broadband in households. The proposed merger, Netflix also contends, would allow the new company to dominate the cable television industry, turning “a consumer’s experience into something that more closely resembles cable television.” Moreover, Netflix says that streaming services (including it), will lose their negotiation power to pay for better streaming quality for its subscribers. Netflix is already engaged in contracts with the four biggest Internet Service Providers  including Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T, and recently a new deal was signed with Time Warner Cable for faster streaming after a kerfuffle over slowing of streaming content. But, Netflix claims the merger will allow the ISPs to impose higher prices for better Internet speeds. Comcast and Time Warner,...

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Eminem raps are OK but Facebook posts aren’t?

The world has heard an earful from Marshall Bruce Mathers, the recording artist also known as Eminem aka Slim Shady. Since he broke out in the rap and hip hop scene as a pale poet from Motown with lots to say, Mathers also has done his share of aggravating audiences with his pointed and profane views, which women and gays have found hateful and offensive. Look online and it’s also clear that Eminem’s lyrics lean far out on themes of violence and harm to others. As with others in his genre, however, no one has ever suggested stuffing a sock in his utterances, legally speaking, no matter how disturbing his words. It’s music and free speech and protected, right? Well, what happens when those very same lyrics get put to page, on Facebook specifically, and they’re thrown in with other messages targeted at an individual? What happens then? That issue has made its way through an appellate court and heads to the U.S. Supreme Court this fall. A little over 10 years ago, the Supreme Court determined in Virginia v. Black, 538 U.S. 343,  that the First Amendment might not protect hate speech or a hate symbol, if a “reasonable person” would deem it was a threat. However, will the Supreme Court consider this issue in an online context? Anthony Elonis, a Pennsylvania man, said to be distressed about...

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In limbo: ‘Ohio Players’ financial legacy

The entertainment scene seems to feed a tabloid-style world enmeshed in divorce, bankruptcy, and scandal — and the complicated, troubling nature of the scene may be underscored when its business heads to the court room: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently reversed a federal bankruptcy court’s decision favoring debtor Lisa Ann Galaz over her  former husband Raul, who had worked with music producer Julian Jackson and eventually created a Texas limited-liability company  to collect royalties from the music of the famed funk band, the Ohio Players. During the couple’s marriage, the royalties did not generate any revenue. But as soon as they divorced, the royalties began to tally again, totaling nearly $1 million. Lisa Ann Galaz sought her share, and recently filed bankruptcy, hoping this would help her collect. However, rapidly evolving case law has limited bankruptcy courts’ jurisdiction, the appellate court noted. Raul Galaz appealed the decision, which the appellate court vacated and remanded for further proceedings involving both the U.S. district court and bankruptcy court that had handled the matter earlier. Meantime, the royalties for the Ohio Players’ remain in limbo — a sad state for a pioneering group, most of whose members are deceased and whose seven, No. 1 single hits include, Fire. In case the flashy clothes and deep bass groove don’t hit a familiar...

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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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