Author: Sheba Sheikh

New project traces Hollywood’s legal legacy

The Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute has launched a project to research the origins and evolution of entertainment law and its most influential practitioners:  The Hollywood Legal Legacy Project will document this key part of Los Angeles legal life with oral histories, research publications, an interactive guide to regional entertainment archival material, and other initiatives, all of which Southwestern Law School will make publicly available. Although other scholars have chronicled the 20th Century rise of the entertainment industry and its role in boosting  Southern California and its economy, relatively little attention has gone to the lawyers and law firms who helped build the industry by counseling and representing studios, talent guilds, other entertainment institutions and stars. Southwestern’s collaboration of historians, legal scholars and legal practitioners are focusing first on two projects: tracing the origins of the local firms and attorneys whose work defined the practice specialty and influenced the organization of the Los Angeles Bar, the industry’s economics and legal precedent in the field. The scholars also are building a library of oral histories with major practitioners in  Los Angeles area and beyond. Here’s more on this project from  Molly Selvin, (left) a project participant and Southwestern’s assistant dean for interdisciplinary programs and an adjunct professor of law. She was a member of the Editorial Board and a reporter  for the Los Angeles Times. She’s a professor and...

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Top law blogs? ABA Journal nominates 100

Blawg 100 award.  This year, the ABA Journal received more than 1,300 nominations through their “Blawg Amici” process for 12 categories. And the nominees are … First, here are the categories: News Trial Practice LPM Niche For Fun Opinions IP Law Labor and Employment Criminal Justice Business Law Torts Legal Tech Early this month, the prestigious Top 100 were announced and among them were several fellow entertainment and media blawgs, including Law Law Land, Hollywood Esq., and Blog Law Blog. Nominations are limited to blawgs listed in the ABA Journal’s Blawg Directory. The selections are based on originality of content, opinion...

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Twilight Fashion? Not so fast B.B. Dakota

Summit Entertainment, creators of the Twilight movie series, has prevailed on its motion for summary judgment in a lawsuit filed in 2010 for copyright and trademark infringement, false designation of origin, trademark dilution and unfair competition. The action involved B.B. Dakota, a retailer that sought to promote sales of a blue cotton canvas jacket by stating in its advertising copy:  “Bella Swann wears this jacket in Twilight and scores the hottest vampire in high school, and so can you!” (see full decision here) The jacket’s moment in the spotlight wasn’t exactly premeditated. As the story goes, the stylist on the movie originally planned for Bella to wear a brown hoodie in the scene. The director was unhappy with the way the color appeared on camera, prompting the stylist to go on a last-minute shopping run to a local Nordstrom Rack where she purchased the jacket. Two years later, after the movie’s release, B.B. Dakota reintroduced the coat in response to the high demand and marketed it as the “Twilight jacket” The gear received a lot of media attention.  According to The Hollywood Reporter, Esq., Entertainment Weekly ran a story detailing how the jacket got in the movie; WWD featured it in an article on BB Dakota’s attempt to capitalize on the attention by building a line around Twilight. And MTV announced to Twilight fans where they could get “The...

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Expert, inconoclast tackles music industry’s fate

Southwestern’s Music Law Society and Entertainment and Sports Law Society brought to campus expert Bob Lefsetz (shown at left), who offered some blunt, candid thoughts on the future of the music industry. Lefsetz is an industry figure and author of the email newsletter and blog, The Lefsetz Letter.  A graduate of Southwestern, he worked as an entertainment business attorney, majordomo of Sanctuary Music’s American division and a consultant to major record labels. He started “The Lefsetz Letter” after “getting fired” and he now writes on issues at the core of the music business: downloading, copyright protection, pricing, and the music itself. He says the industry must alter its business model to embrace rather than combat online music services. With Napster as the trailblazer, sites such as iTunes, Spotify and Kickstarter are giving major record labels a run for their money and Lefsetz stands on the side of technology. Lefsetz offered these insights and anecdotes: Labels and publishers as dinosaurs: He says they have done too little to change. Despite the deal with i-Tunes and Rhino Records collaborating with Spotify by putting out play lists, the resistance remains.  The majors cling to an outdated model in which they control releases. Why labels haven’t acted: Leftsetz notes that profits still are key and argues that Rhino “has gotten it right” in dealing with Spotify.com. Labels must realize that consumers will tap technology — streaming and mobile applications...

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Power on! A costumer copyright challenge

In the spirit of Halloween, SCG Power Rangers LLC treated itself to the nifty trick of bringing costumes to the forefront of copyright and trademark law.  THR, Esq. reports that SCG filed a complaint in the Central District of California against Undergo Endeavors, operators of MyPartyShirt.com for copyright and trademark infringement over the website’s sale of Power Ranger costumes.  SCG owns all the intellectual property rights relating to the popular “Power Rangers” television series and controls the licensing and merchandising deals of the Power Rangers brand. After the defendant ignored several cease and desist letters, the plaintiff sued, seeking an injunction and statutory damages. Perhaps the lawsuit already had an impact on the defendant, as searches on their website have failed to produce any Power Rangers costume results. However, does the plaintiff’s copyright and trademark claims have any legal traction? Under the Copyright Act, apparel cannot receive copyright protection because it is considered a “useful article.” Pictorial, graphic and sculptural aspects of a useful article may be copyrighted, if they may be separated from the article, either physically or conceptually.  Clothing rarely has met this test.  Some costume-designers have tried to sneak around this limit by registering the costume as a “soft sculpture,” as in another Halloween case, Whimsicality, Inc. v. Rubie’s Costume Co. Inc.  The Whimsicality court found that the plaintiff had misrepresented itself to the Copyright Office, and, therefore, did...

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Entertainment Law Blogs

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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