Month: January 2017

Can ‘Axanar’ offer model for studio, fan peace?

In what once was the final frontier, the actions of some one-time loyalists started to raise huge concerns among the rulers of the Great Empire of Hollywood. They feared that rebel forces had aligned and had started to take advantage of technological advances that might threaten imperial products, trade, and treasuries. Forces amassed, threats were exchanged. Fortunately, a battle has been averted. So now some die-hard fans of the half-century-old Star Trek franchise legally can push ahead with their scaled-back, online production of a mini-film they have dubbed Axanar, which they now can’t use to fund-raise. And for now, Hollywood will keep the peace with its throngs of ticket- and merchandise-buying aficionados, while also setting, its lawyers hope, some relatively easy-to-follow red-line legal bounds on increasingly professional, not-for-profit, crowd-sourced fan films. The Axanar skirmish may be telling — a lot — about not only Hollywood’s unceasing struggles with change but also, perhaps, key shifts in some of its legal strategies with assaults on its intellectual property. A different kind of fan flick Film production company Axanar Productions recently produced and debuted a new Star Trek-based fan-fiction film on YouTube.  This was not a trailer for a typical “not-for-profit” fan work, created only to be shared among fellow “Trekkies,” then lost in space. The intention was to use this teaser to raise money for a feature-length film, whose story would...

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‘Bad Girl’ defeats, decisively, infringement claim

When a Club Girl became a Bad Girl, a songwriter got in a delayed huff. But he and his lawyer ignored a fundamental aspect of copyright law, a legal point on which an appellate court just offered a pointed reminder: “co-authors of a joint work are each entitled to undivided ownership and the joint owner of a copyright cannot sue his co-owner for infringement.” That’s why crooner Usher Raymond is sitting prettier than ever as his 2004 derivative hit, Bad Girl, has won a decisive victory over an attack on it, with a ruling from the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. U.S. Chief Judge Theodore A. Mckee wrote the decision on behalf of the three-judge panel, which included U.S. Circuit Judges D. Michael Fisher and Joseph A. Greenaway Jr. They not only sent packing Daniel V. Marino, a co-writer  of Club Girl, a tune from which Usher’s successful record was derived, they also upheld sanctions against his counsel. What happened? A district court rebuke Marino appealed a summary judgement against his case by U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond, who tossed his suit against Usher and 19 other co-defendants, including some major record labels. The defendants also included William Guice and Dante Barton, who assisted in creating Club Girl and held with him its copyright. Marino claimed in his suit that he alone came up...

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Appellate court gives boot to video game claims

If plaintiffs aren’t clever enough to present the courts with the basics, notably the materials that they assert that others exploited and owe them money for, then judges have no choice but to dismiss their royalties and copyright infringement claims, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has reminded a complaining party smart enough to help create a best-selling video game. Unfortunately for Robin Antonick, the appellate judges recently blocked his attempt to recover royalties from Electronic Arts Inc. for his claimed work on the industry giant’s top-selling product, the John Madden Football video game. Antonick was...

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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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