Author: Matt Haddad

‘Village People’ trademark claim rejected

The U.S. appellate court for the federal circuit in Washington has rejected the appeal of Karen Willis, wife of the original policeman of the Village People, to cancel two trademarks for the musical group. The case has been reported by Law 360, among others, and the TTABlog offers a wry, um, lyrical take on this matter. It has wended its way through courts, with some key takeaways along the way.Willis lost her first battle with the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeals Board, which ruled that she had not established grounds for her case to cancel two Village People trademarks for live performance and recorded music. The Board granted summary judgment against her three claims of fraud and misrepresentation including that the term “VILLAGE PEOPLE” is a generic term for musical recordings, that Can’t Stop Productions had abandoned the trademark, and that Village People is not a “musical and vocal group” as claimed in the trademark registrations because the members lip-sync rather than sing as a group. The Board allowed her to file an amended petition for her fraud claim that the “VILLAGE PEOPLE” mark has not been used on audio recordings since 1985, so that issue was not part of the appeal. Federal Circuit judges Prost, Moore, and O’Malley found her arguments lacking merit and affirmed the Board’s earlier decision. The Willis family has had mixed results in litigation. ArtsBeat reported that earlier this year, Victor Willis won a copyright...

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Pandora takes fee fight with ASCAP to court

After long negotiations failed, Pandora has sued the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and is asking the U.S. District Court in New York to set “reasonable” license fees and terms for a period from Jan., 1, 2011, to Dec. 31, 2015, on a “through to the listener” basis, meaning no third-party licensing is required. Pandora and ASCAP had negotiated a standard form “Experimental License Agreement for Internet Sites and Services” between 2005 and 2010. But ASCAP is unwilling to extend this because “it is not an appropriate benchmark for establishing reasonable ASCAP license fees.” The music rights group gave the Radio Music Licensing Committee (RMLC) a rate that reflects a fee decrease of about 30% for the  majority of radio stations. The court-approved settlement covered “both over-the-air-broadcasting and internet/mobile (collectively, ‘new media’) content offerings operated by RMLC members.” ASCAP won’t offer Pandora the same deal given to its competitors. The sticking point is RLMC’s 25% standard deduction for new media radio offerings, whether or not ad sales forces are in-house. Pandora primarily has an in-house sales team and ASCAP is only willing to offer a 15% deduction to actually incurred outside-agency commissions. Pandora also asserts that its licensing fees should be reduced because ASCAP adopted new governing rules in 2011 allowing publishers to withdraw certain licensing authority. EMI announced its plans for New Media Rights Withdrawal in 2011 and has already negotiated a fee and...

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Voters OK new regulation on adult film shoots

Measure B, known as the Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act, has won with 56% support in Los Angeles County. The measure requires adult film producers to get a permit from the Los Angeles County Department of Health before shooting. This means producers must 1) prove completion of a blood-borne pathogen training course and submit an exposure control plan; and 2) use condoms for all acts of anal or vaginal sex during production of adult films. This measure exceeds a law signed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in January, 2012. It did not require a permit when shooting in studios. The new measure bars any production of adult films for commercial purposes without a valid health permit. The stated purpose of the ordinance is to minimize the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, within the porn industry and the wider community. Adult productions are an  American pastime and The Smoking Jacket  reports it is a $13 billion industry, with pornos made in the U.S. every 30 minutes. According to Nick Allen, “Around 90 per cent of U.S. pornographic films are made in Los Angeles, almost all of them in the city’s San Fernando Valley, and the industry produces an estimated $8 billion (£5.2 billion) a year in revenue.” Porn filmmakers threatened to leave if the measure passed.  “Movies with condoms simply don’t sell as well,” said Steven Hirsch of Vivid Entertainment in an excerpt from...

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On appeal, ecdysiasts stripped of tax break

  If Bob Fosse or Jerome Robbins taught a ballet dancer how to bump and grind a leotard-clad body, would that constitute art high enough so a joint in Upstate New York could catch a tax break? Apparently not. Nite Moves, an “upscale nonalcoholic juice bar” with a “large staff of fully nude beautiful women on stage…[and in] private dance rooms” in Albany has lost its appeal to qualify for an exemption available to cultural and artistic performances. Since 2005, Nite Moves has not paid state taxes on its admission charges, leaving it more than $125,000 in arrears.  Under New York Tax Law...

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U.S. creates triennial exceptions to DMCA

The conclusion last week of the fifth triennial rule-making of the Copyright Office has brought good news for documentary filmmakers, online distributors, remix artists and smartphone owners. It’s bad news for computer tablet owners, video gamers and space shifters. Every three years, the Copyright Office listens to complaints and reassesses need for temporary exemptions to the 1998 Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), which outlaws circumvention of digital rights management. These exemptions reflect developments, whereby certain copyrighted materials become less available to the general public. Here’s some specifics on what Maria Pallante, the Register of Copyrights, recommended to James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, and which were adopted, effective Oct. 28: Critics and cineastes will benefit from a ruling on short excerpts from motion pictures on DVDs that are Content Scrambling System (CSS) protected and motion pictures lawfully acquired through online distribution services. These are exempted for criticism or comment by either screen-capture technology, or when that does not provide high enough quality content, by circumvention. This is solely for criticism or comment in 1) noncommercial videos; 2) documentary films; 3) nonfiction multimedia e-books offering film analysis; and 4) educational purposes in courses that require film and media analysis, college and university faculty and students and students in grades kindergarten through 12. This renews the 2010 exemption that allows documentary filmmakers to rip content from DVDs and streaming video for fair use incorporation in their work, but Blu-Ray was not included...

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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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