Author: Sam Herting

Why Netflix, Redbox give studios nightmares

Studio executives more and more have decided to push back against services such as Netflix and Redbox, which rent their expensive feature films to consumers for dirt cheap prices. The studios have to do something. Consumer spending habits after theatrical release are changing drastically. DVD sales are dead, Blockbuster is in bankruptcy and studies show that consumers are more inclined to rent rather than buy movies. Meanwhile, Redbox and Netflix are capitalizing on the change. Redbox, which has rental kiosks in convenience and grocery stores nationwide, plans to expand to a streaming service. Netflix now has more than 20 million subscribers, a 63% increase from February, 2010. Why is this a problem? Studios profit most from theatrical distribution because each customer pays a fixed amount (what is it — $15 for a ticket these days?!) to see an individual film. In the past, they could expect favorable profit-margins from consumers who rented individual movies from Blockbuster. But now studios get less for their product. Redbox kiosks charge only $1 for rentals. Netflix charges $7.99 a month, and for that consumers get access to an all-you-can-eat buffet of what essentially used to be a Blockbuster store. What are the studios to do? Their predicament, specifically as it pertains to Netflix, is summed up here. So far, the studios have resorted to increasing prices after they tried denying the product altogether to Redbox...

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Court cries foul on Ravens

More bad news recently for the NFL: No, not the recent ruling by U.S. District Judge David Doty favoring the NFL Players Association in a TV dispute that has billions at stake. And no, this does not involve the collective bargaining agreement, expiring March 3rd at midnight, that could lead to the first league lockout since 1987. This time, the NFL — typically a pit bull about protecting its own copyrights, is on the wrong end of a copyright infringement decision involving the Baltimore Ravens old logo. Frederick Bouchat owns the copyright in a drawing he created for use as the Baltimore Ravens logo. In 1995 Bouchat sent the drawing to the team, requesting only that he be given a letter of recognition and an autographed helmet if it were used. For one reason or another, his drawing was used in the production of the “Flying B” logo during the team’s first three seasons from 1996-1998. While this logo has been replaced today by the current shield-raven’s head insignia, legal issues remain with the prior “Flying B” logo. First, Bouchat sought an injunction prohibiting all current uses of the “Flying B” logo and requiring destruction of all items with the logo, including Ravens highlight films for the team’s first three seasons. The Ravens and the NFL contended that these uses were allowed under the fair use defense. The Fourth Circuit...

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A litigious swivel over matters Elvis

Elvis Presley Enterprises, the Memphis-based firm that runs worldwide licensing for all things Elvis, has aggressively tracked down individuals they say are behind distribution of bootleg concert performances and albums of the King. And they’re litigating with Elvis’ music publisher. The Presley folks filed suit in England, Wales, and Florida over the alleged infringement, resulting, in England, with the Chancery Division of the High Court authorizing a search of defendant”s home; that reportedly produced materials for a subsequent lawsuit. The Chancery Division also granted summary judgment in favor of the Presley people, resulting in damage awards and attorneys fees after a DJ released a remix album featuring Elvis Christmas classics. For more, visit Law.com’s Corporate Counsel or click here. The Presley folks have been active on another legal front, filing a claim with the New York Supreme Court against publishers Chrysalis Music Group, alleging failure to perform contractual duties. In April, 2002, they and Chrysalis entered into an agreement under which Chrysalis was to license Presley’s musical compositions in the United States and abroad; administer the rights; collect licensing transaction fees; and put the revenue into a seperate account.  Chrysalis handled 75% of Elvis’ musical compositions, the suit says, claiming that the firm has failed to fully pay collected licensing and publishing revenue. The suit asserts thate Chyrsalis inadequetly collected the fees, and, in some cases, comingled the revenue. ...

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