Month: March 2016

Filmmakers’ win with a First Amendment blast

With everyone from Hollywood producers to video game makers poring over the headlines for compelling people stories to convert into hot properties or products, California’s right of publicity law long has sought to: recognize that an individual’s identity holds economic value; and protect celebrities and average folk alike, so they can control and profit from their name and likeness. The Golden State has been joined by others in crafting publicity rights that have protected notables like Michael Jordan  and Aretha Franklin. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has just clarified what happens when state publicity rights clash with First Amendment claims, especially in an instance involving a transformative retelling of the life of an ordinary individual thrust into great events of the time. The case involved Jeffrey Sarver, a onetime master sergeant, bomb disposal expert, and Iraq war veteran. He claimed that the main character in The Hurt Locker, as played by Jeremy Renner, was based on his life. As The Washington Post reported: “Sarver sued, claiming the film violated his ‘right of publicity’—his right to control the commercial use of his identity (here, not his name or likeness but elements of his life story).” The appellate court disagreed, finding the First Amendment barred Sarver’s claims because the Oscar-winning film was transformative and did not just piggyback on his story nor its economic value.  As federal judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain wrote for the appellate court:...

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Pro librarian up for top job with copyright sway

The Obama Administration has announced that Carla Hayden will be its nominee as the fourteenth U.S. Librarian of Congress. This is a position with great influence on copyright law, and, therefore of considerable interest to Entertainment Law practitioners. She would replace James H. Billington, who was nominated by President Reagan and has come under fire for failing to keep up with technological advancements. Hayden must confirmed by the U.S. Senate, not an easy task these days. She would be the second professional librarian to hold the position, and her nomination has been applauded by both the American Library Association and the American Association of Law Libraries. The U.S. Copyright Office, which administers and records copyrights and provides public services about these key elements of intellectual property law, is part of the Library of Congress. Hayden would be the first woman and the first African-American to be the congressional librarian. She also has deep experience updating library technology, sure to be a priority after the widespread criticism of her predecessor. Hayden has served as the longtime head of Baltimore’s library system, the Enoch Pratt Free Library. She was named National Librarian of the Year in 1995, and was honored as recently as last year for keeping Baltimore’s libraries open during the riots. Of interest to Entertainment attorneys, Hayden’s record includes a role as a privacy advocate. In 2003, while president of the librarians’ association, she...

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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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