Author: Karen Hao

Videogamers zapped with a reading lesson

The devil’s in the details — and so was a federal judge’s recent decision, rejecting a claim by some impatient gamers, infuriated that they had to wait, gosh, two whole doggone weeks, before they could play with their new toy online. This case focuses on Grand Theft Auto V, the hot new game by Take Two and Rockstar Games that debuted recently. Well, besides hitting buttons and starting at screens, there’s a possible take-away from this matter for the tech crowd: reading’s good, especially the whole of materials and not just selections of prose. The litigious gamers, it seems, got bent out of shape, accusing the makers of  “fraudulent, unlawful, and unfair business practices,” because the latest version of Grand Theft, with an online multiplayer component, began selling on Sept. 17, 2013, though the players couldn’t get to the net features until Oct. 1, 2013. As evidence they were promised otherwise, the players’ suit cited the game packaging for the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony Playstation 4 versions of the game, as well as a dozen or so instances of media coverage of the game’s impending release. Legally speaking, the unhappy consumers had to: (1) establish a loss or deprivation of money or property sufficient to qualify as injury in fact and (2) show that the economic injury was the result of unfair business practice or false advertising. They...

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3-D printing opens a thorny, new legal frontier

It prompted a take-down demand from the folks behind Tintin, a cease-and-desist command from those associated with Game of Thrones and no less than the President paused to give it a shout-out in his recent State of the Union: 3-D printing and printers are not just here, they’re falling in price, becoming a more ubiquitous technology and they’re just starting to become a potential new sore spot for Hollywood and creative types concerned about protecting intellectual property. Fernando Sosa found this out when he got a much-publicized cease-and-desist letter from HBO over his 3-D-printed, Game of Thrones-inspired cellphone dock. And while some museums seem intrigued about the possibility of others outside their institutions creating 3-D replicas of great art works in public collections, Thingverse.com, an online exchange for digital designs for 3-D printers, got zinged with a take-down notice from Moulinsart, owners of the rights to Tintin, over some holiday ornaments that look like the famed cartoon character’s moon rocket. (Those designs are still up, by the way.) Costs fall, conflicts rise As 3D printers become more affordable, ranging anywhere from just under $1,000 to more than $3,000, intellectual property owners are raising alarm and legal minds are offering early guidance to avert conflict. Sites such as Thingiverse.com and instructables.com which provide blueprints to help 3-D printers build anything, make it hard for IP owners to recover from. 3D...

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‘Oh, Really?’ Smart law and ‘Dumb Starbucks’

In ‘Oh, Really?’ the Biederman Blog’s editors — voracious consumers of all matters pop culture — cast a curious, skeptical, fun and smart end-of-the-week eye on popular productions, sharing their keen observations about legal matters these raise. Blog editors Karen Hao and Kasia Campbell investigated a bit of L.A. street theater for this piece: With the online buzz and media blitz that comedian Nathan Fielder whipped into a perfect latte froth with his “Dumb Starbucks Coffee” shop in the trendy Loz Feliz area, it might have seemed as if he cured cancer or created a crazy way to take a common daily drink that should cost a few bits and make us all pay gazillions for it. No, wait, just like some hipster java haven,  it was not long before crowds of people (including the authors of this post) waited in line for hours to get “dumb coffee” at his pop-up creation and to see what the fuss was all about. Would it be dumb and dumber to rely, as Fielder asserted he did, on “parody law” to circumvent the Starbucks’ trademark and to capitalize on an addictive brand? Maybe he just needed a way to promote his upcoming Comedy Central show, “Nathan for You?” Or maybe he wanted law-watchers to consider smartly some intellectual property issues of his brilliantly dumb stunt, which health officials shuttered just days after...

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Tarantino tiff shows how ‘take-downs’ plod

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino’s battle with the gossip site Gawker, which posted not only his leaked script but also hyperlinks to where it could be seen and downloaded elsewhere in cyberspace, has generated online attention for the pursuit of another now-important legal remedy – how to get the Internet giant Google to pull the links to disputed works, such as those to his now-canceled film The Hateful Eight. And as several blogs, such as Ars Technica, have been quick to point out, stuffing the content genie back into a secure and private bottle isn’t as fast nor easy a task as it might seem. The case illustrates not only the challenges of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act’s take-down notice process but also persistent criticism of search-engine Google’s overwhelming role in playing online cop over rights claims.  The DMCA has two main sections: the “anti-circumvention” provision (section 1201 of the Copyright Act) and the “safe harbor” provision (section 512). Under the safe harbor provision of section 512(d), providers are immune from monetary liability for users’ possible copyright infringement, if they comply with the “notice and take-down” procedures. These procedures include expeditiously removing or disabling access to material that is claimed to be infringing. This gives providers immunity from lawsuits by following the DMCA’s take-down procedure. However, service providers also may choose not to follow this process. Tarantino’s team, through MarkMonitor AntiPiracy, sent DMCA notices...

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Doink! An $11-million ‘Madden’ reverse play

Envision the big fellow, hands waving, he’s a little wheezy and loud as he pronounces: “So this guy goes this way, and then this one that way, and, everyone’s running around and… Boom! Suddenly you have what looks like money! Then, doink! Flags fly, whistles blow and, Bang! Suddenly everything’s going in reverse…” Thanks, John Madden. That might be the legendary coach and broadcaster’s distinctive description for action in Sunday’s NFL Superbowl. It also could serve as the play-by-play for a recent legal upset and remand involving Electronic Arts, a lawsuit over its Madden video football game and an $11-million judgment awarded by a jury against the manufacturer and to game developer Robin Antonick. It’s hard to believe that the ever-popular Madden NFL video game prototype originally was developed more than 20 years ago.  Antonick was hired in 1984 and signed a development contract in 1986 that entitled him to royalties on derivative versions of Madden. He later became aware of the continued use of his intellectual property in 2009 when Electronica Arts (EA) celebrated its 20th anniversary and its publicity materials traced its current software back to his software, not the version that was subsequently developed by Park Place. Antonick sued EA in 2011 for breach of contract and the judge allowed the case to go to trial.  The case included copyright issues as to whether it was...

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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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