Author: Mary P. Ray

Password sharing has its legal risks but …

Cord cutters rejoiced this past Super Bowl Sunday. Not only is CBS creating its own streaming option, but the broadcaster went out of its way to make streaming the annual spectacle incredibly easy. Now, could streaming services make it even simpler: What about the legality of password sharing? Cord cutting is the practice, relatively new and especially popular among millennial media consumers, to “cut” the cable cord, canceling pricey, bundled cable broadcast service. That’s because customers can access and consume media (including television shows, movies, video games, and music videos) cheaper and via other online services, typically streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Cord cutting also fosters password sharing: providing services’ access information with friends, family, or significant others. It got a lot of attention when Emmy host Andy Samberg last fall gave out a working HBO password on air. Slate.com calls the practice “a telling step in contemporary coupling – a contemporary version of leaving an extra toothbrush in your partner’s bathroom.” Although some estimates put the economic losses of this practice as high as a half-billion dollars annually, HBO and Netflix’s respective CEOs don’t see password sharing as a problem, even going so far as to say it helps create new subscribers. What are the legal implications? Does it violate the terms of service? Can I be arrested?! A federal act Who might be subject to legal action...

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Slants ruling: troubling twist for Skins, TM law

I am going to admit my secret shame. I am a Washington Redskins fan. My father’s family hails from the District, and his grandfather had season tickets at one point. With the woeful lack of a LA football team (for now) the Skins were the only feasible fan option for me for pro football. But I actually fit into an odd ‘Skins minority: I’d favor a name change for the team. Yes, it would be a shame to lose some franchise history — but not as much of a shame as rooting for a franchise with an odious name. As such, I was glad when a federal judge upheld the Federal Trial and Appeal Board’s 2-1 ruling that the team’s name is offensive to Native Americans, and, thus, ineligible for trademark protection under 15 USC §1052(a). That section of the Lanham Act states that offensive marks are not valid trademarks. But then the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (the special court dealing mostly with appeals from the patent office) recently struck down 2(a) as an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment in the case In Re Simon Tam. Now my consternation applies not just to a football team and its name but also to the modernity, or lack of it, in trademark law. Upending 70 years of precedent Tam leads the all Asian-American band called “The...

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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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