Month: April 2015

In conversation: Film industry’s IP watchdog

One of the movie industry’s top intellectual property watchdogs on Monday will join in Southwestern Law School’s  “Conversation With …” program: Dean Marks, executive vice president, deputy general counsel and chief of global content protection at the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) will chat about an array of topics in the 7:30 p.m. program with Steve Krone, director of the Donald E. Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute. “Dean is one of the leading U.S. and international copyright experts in the entertainment industry, ” Professor Krone said. “In his work at the MPAA spearheading all content protection, I’m sure he’s bringing his deep knowledge to bear, along with his refreshingly pragmatic approach.” Marks joined the MPAA in January, 2015. Previously, he served in a 25-year career with Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Time Warner, where he was most recently senior vice president intellectual property for Warner Bros.  There he was responsible for establishing and guiding business practices of the studio on copyright related issues, digital rights management and content protection, and emerging distribution technologies. He worked extensively on domestic and international copyright policy and legislation. He also actively participated in negotiations that resulted in the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998.  From 1992 to 1995, he served as vice president in Time Warner’s European public affairs office in Brussels, where he lobbied on media and copyright related...

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Three’s company? Make room for dark parody

A cheery, chipper, Seventies sit-com that turned on a naughty-cute lifestyle-linked plot  has, in its own fashion, allowed a federal district court in Manhattan to hand down a copyright infringment decision with its own twist. Based on a Rule 12(c) motion, Loretta A. Preska, chief judge in the Southern District Court of New York, has found that playwright David Adjmi‘s dark, off-Broadway work, 3C, was non-infringing of the copyright held by DTL Entertainment for the popular television farce Three’s Company, which starred the late John Ritter, actresses Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt, (shown in right photo) and the late comedy legend Don Knotts. The court issued its declaratory judgment based on pleadings, determining swiftly that Adjmi’s contemporary and sardonic take-off on the frothy TV original clearly  constituted a parody. The new work, Preska wrote, offered a criticism of the frivolous, light- hearted outlook at the heart of the sitcom and the “superficial treatment” the original took to topics like sexuality, homosexuality, and gender based hijinks and discrimination. The court found 3C (with key cast shown in left photo) a transformative use of Three’s Company and therefore entitled to fair use protection against infringement claims. Preska based her ruling solely on the script of 3C and a few critic’s reviews; the court did not see an actual performance. The critics, however, were emphatic in their reviews that 3C was a parody of the original show, commenting on big differences...

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Court harpoons ‘Shark’s bid for ‘safe harbor’

Grooveshark could not groove it way out of a recent New York federal district court decision granting EMI summary judgment against the music streaming service operated by Escape Media group. The court found Grooveshark liable for copyright infringement and unable to claim safe harbor protection under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In the latest case development, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan adopted the report and recommendation of U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn. Her recommendations included: 1) granting EMI music’s motion for summary judgment on its infringement claim and the exception of its claim for direct infringement of its right of reproduction and 2) granting summary judgment to EMI on Escape’s affirmative defense under the DMCA. The district court more specifically affirmed Netburn’s decision that Escape directly infringes EMI’s right of public performance but that it does not directly infringe its right of reproduction. The judge in that decision also concluded that ” Grooveshark users directly infringe EMI’s rights of reproduction and distribution and that Escape is secondarily liable” under vicarious and contributory theories. Of particular importance in the R&R’s finding was that: Escape directly infringed EMI’s copyrighted work; Escape did not make any specific objections to Netburn’s conclusions of direct and secondary infringement. Instead, the streamer contended there was no evidence from which infringement could be found, as the key declaration claiming to show this should have been excluded. The declaration analyzed the...

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Appellate court revives suit over Talent Act

While the curtain seemed to have fallen on the battle over the California Labor Commission’s Talent Agency Act, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has decided this dispute will play on. This case seemed to be all but over two years ago when U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson granted the state’s motion to dismiss the claim brought by the National Conference of Personal Managers. The group, claiming the law is unfair to members’ interests, bitterly has contested the Golden State statute that has left many lawyers and others in the entertainment industry uncertain what they can and cannot do in representing talent. The appellate court, in its review, said Pregerson may have dismissed the claim on the merits but he did not establish whether his court held jurisdiction to do so. It’s worth noting that the judge addressed jurisdiction in the original ruling, stating the “court declined to resolve the issue fully, finding that the motion should be granted on its merits…” The appellate court, however, remanded, saying the lower court had an “independent obligation to determine jurisdiction before addressing the merits of the...

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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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