Author: Anne M. Lum

Olivia de Havilland’s legal feud with TV show? It’s gone with the wind, after appellate judges in Calif. toss iconic actress’ publicity rights suit

Ah, so it is Tinsel Town true: Even icons of the silver screen can take a contrarian view of a juicy part — and then suffer rejection for it. That’s what has happened to Olivia de Havilland, a Hollywood grande dame. She has lost her running legal feud with FX Networks and Ryan Murphy, as a state appellate court  in California has dismissed her claim that their television show violated her publicity rights with what she asserted was an inaccurate depiction of her. She is a living legend. Her unforgettable portrayal of Melanie Hamilton in Gone with the Wind earned her one...

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Studios locked in ferocious fight over on-screen wizardry, with copyright, patent, and mark protections claimed for special-effects tech

Rearden, a high-powered computing company that has sought to establish its creative reputation in the movie industry with its special-effects work on some well-known films, now wants to become a legal innovator, too. It’s doing so by pursuing a complex lawsuit, a case that began when Rearden first sought to protect its legal rights over what it claimed was an unauthorized use of its technology by a Chinese-owned company, Digital Domain, aka DD3. A federal judge recently ruled that DD3 behaved “fraudulently,” and ordered it to return disputed movie-making technology to Rearden (click on the photo above to play a...

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Landlord white-washes walls of ‘graffiti,’ but U.S. judge invokes ‘VARA,’ imposing $6.7 million penalty for damage to big Queens display of ‘aerosol art’

Gerald Wolkoff, a building owner in the New York borough of Queens, in search of what he might have thought was his picture-perfect ending to an escalating dispute with neighborhood artists,  did more than rub out what some might consider walls covered with graffiti. He also rubbed the wrong way a federal judge, federal jurors, and a corps of “aerosol artists,” destroying dozens of artistic creations with legal protections, described in a court document as the nation’s “largest collection of exterior aerosol art.” The landlord’s aggressive action against the wall mural mecca known as 5Pointz will come at a hefty...

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Taylor Swift shakes off ‘Playas’ infringement claim. But how about that federal judge’s harsh finding of ‘unoriginal,’ ‘uncreative’ and ‘banal’ lyrics?

It may be true, as some songs have averred, that playas gon play, and haters, they gonna hate. But federal district judges, well, they rule. And, when asked to decide matters with elements that they may deem legally triflin’, their honors sometimes can just zing parties before them. That was the case with U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald in Los Angeles, as he took up a copyright infringement suit filed by the songwriters of 3LW’s 2001 piece, Playas Gon’ Play. They asserted that pop diva Taylor Swift  violated their copyright  for Playas with her hit Shake It Off  (to hear it,...

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Even as songwriters win a key fight on royalties, new fronts open in big-money war between companies, creatives over pay for streamed music

Bit coins and other crypto currencies? For already financially struggling creatives seeking ways to make money, the answer’s likely, Fuggedahaboutit. But a federal agency, industry advocates say, has at least stepped up to boost how songwriters can mine the latest cyber development driving their industry: online music streaming. The Copyright Royalty Board of the U.S. Library of Congress recently changed its formula to determine how much revenue streaming companies must share with songwriters and the music publishing companies.  By 2022,  the regulatory board has determined, the royalty for use of musical works in making and distributing of phono records will be...

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