Author: Joseph P. Morganella

Es tiempo, dice el juez en el caso ‘Timeless’

Court advances claim that U.S. television show may have infringed on Spanish hit Timing’s everything, a federal judge in California has reminded Sony Television and NBC Universal, as he has denied their moves to dismiss a suit against them by Onza Partners, broadcast creatives in Spain. The partners object to how negotiations they conducted over their Spanish TV hit in the summer of 2015 with a prominent American agent and Sony progressed—or didn’t—to the fall announcement of an NBC show. The Spaniards unsuccessfully filed suit just before the fall 2016 airing of the American production, not necessarily to block...

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Court resurrects a killer’s privacy suit over film

He’s the real-life ax murderer who keeps acting like a terrifying character in a Hollywood slasher movie, popping up repeatedly at inopportune times in scary fashion. Yes, he’s baaack: Christopher Porco, convicted of murdering his father and attempting to murder his mother with an ax while the victims were at home asleep in their bed, has just won from prison a New York court ruling that may send some shivers up the spines of movie makers whose works are rooted in reality. A New York Court of Appeals judge recently reversed the dismissal of Porco’s suit against Lifetime Networks over claims of statutory privacy violations (a tip of the hat to the Hollywood Reporter for posting may key documents in this case online). Four years ago, he sued Lifetime after it produced a made-for-television film based on the public story of his heinous crime. A furious court battle erupted and threatened to prevent the airing of Lifetime’s Romeo Killer: The Christopher Porco Story, starring Eric McCormack, Matt Barr and Lolita Davidovitch. It didn’t. But, cue the screechy Psycho violins as the soundtrack, and let’s see how this case, some say, menaces the movie business all over again. A killer’s upset Let’s run the tape back to 2013-14, when, as this blog noted, Porco sued Lifetime Networks. A  New York Supreme Court judge then granted him an order against the...

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Jurors slash through a gore-flick rights feud

My hat’s off to the jurors who were able to find willful copyright infringement by production company PFG Entertainment Inc. and sales agent Ted Rosenblatt,  ordering them to pay the creator of The Toolbox Murders franchise. PFG and Rosenblatt made a deal to distribute Coffin Baby, a film written and directed by horror make-up artist Dean Jones, whom plaintiffs asserted stole and re-purposed footage from an  earlier, failed project he directed, The Toolbox Murders 2. Jurors, who awarded $460,000 to Tony Didio, producer and creator of the original The Toolbox Murders, not only had to slash their way through B-movie history—they also lived...

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Actors’ ages can be posted online, court says

Is it proper to ask thespians their age? It is, a federal judge in San Francisco says. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria recently ruled on a request for an injunction against it that a California law, which prevents the film and television information website IMDB from posting actor’s real ages, is out of bounds and cannot be enforced. While the law’s aim was to prevent age and gender discrimination in casting, the judge held that the law likely abridges expression of non-commercial free speech, writing,  “it’s difficult to imagine how AB 1687 [the law] could not violate the First Amendment.”...

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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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