Although some entertainment industry types may belittle Los Angeles and insist that they can do business on their own terms elsewhere, all too many paths lead to and through what boosters blushingly have dubbed the Entertainment capital of the world (yes, even you die-hard Seattle grungers need to recognize that Nirvana’s iconic Nervermind was recorded in Van Nuys).
So it wasn’t exactly a surprise when U.S. District Court Judge Ronald S.W. Lew ruled recently that LA, California, and the United States had powerful legal pull, aka jurisdiction, over some far northern business interests, specifically Canadian resident David Fortier and Canadian incorporated Temple Street Production Incorporated. Govern yourselves accordingly, out of towners, as to whether you think you can elude a legal challenge if it plops on your doorstep:
Fortier and Temple Street are two of six defendants whom Stephen Hendriks has sued, asserting copyright infringement and breach of implied contract over BBC America’s popular Orphan Black show. Hendricks says Orphan Black has the same core, copyright-protected expression as a screenplay he had sent to Fortier a decade or so ago, long before Orphan Black came out; Fortier passed on Hendricks’ work. Fortier and Temple Street sought to get themselves dismissed from Hendriks’ suit, asserting lack of jurisdiction. Neither is located in California.
But the court found that, in both instances, Fortier and Temple have the minimum contacts needed to be subject to California jurisdiction. It’s worth noting these contacts can be routine and typical for entertainment industry participants. If, the judge noted, a company chooses, for example, to “incorporate and headquarter its subsidiary in the forum, it may, in some instances, have ‘affiliations with the state that are so continuous and systematic as to render the parent essentially at home in the forum state.’ ” This means that Entertainment companies that find it so business convenient to put a branch or subsidiary of some type in LA, well, they may find themselves “essentially at home” in California.
Judge Lew also provided a clear view on how courts can attach personal jurisdiction and he runs through parameters that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has established in this area of law; they just may sweep in more industry players than some might realize, especially if they don’t reside here due to the cost of living, taxes, traffic or you name the knock that many try to put on LA.