I've discovered that publishing a one-man blog - even a blog that primarily calls attention to the fine work of others - is a surprisingly time-consuming activity. My work on the Entertainment Law Reporter got interrupted by the need to grade final exams and papers for my spring semester courses at Southwestern Law School, and then by my need to prepare to teach International Entertainment Law in the University of San Diego's summer-abroad program in London. Once the summer program begins, I'm going to be distracted by the attractions of London and Europe. So even though I will have Internet access while abroad, I'm unlikely to be posting much if at all during the summer. Like your favorite TV series, the Entertainment Law Reporter is going on hiatus for a while.
The Federal Trade Commission has found that video game retailers enforce industry age and content ratings more vigorously than other entertainment retailers, and that music CD retailers are the most lax at doing so. In the words of the FTC:
Following an established trend, a Federal Trade Commission undercover shopper survey found that video game retailers continue to enforce most vigorously the ratings governing age and content that were established by the entertainment media industry. Music CD retailers lag far behind movie theaters, as well as movie DVD and video game retailers, in preventing unaccompanied children under age 17 from purchasing entertainment intended for mature audiences. "Our undercover shopper survey demonstrates some progress," said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. "But more needs to be done."The FTC's 2011 report is the latest in a series that began in the year 2000.
The Fordham Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment Law Journal published these articles (in Volume IX Book 2):
- Finding A Home for Orphans: Google Book Search and Orphan Works Law in the United States and Europe, by Katharina de la Durantaye
- Twittergate: Rethinking the Casting Director Contract, by Carter Anne McGowan
- Copyright Enforcement in the Cloud, by Marc Aaron Melzer
- When and Where Does An Internet Posting Constitute Publication? Interpreting Moberg v. 33T LLC, by Julia Marter
Clearing props for use in movies and TV programs usually is a matter of copyright law, and sometimes trademark law too. When props include actual money, however, other laws come into play: those that prohibit counterfeiting. The question of whether it's legal to film currency has just been asked and answered, both north and south of the U.S.-Canadian border.
In the U.S., the question "Can I Film U.S. Currency?" was posted to the Cinema Law section of the blog MovieMaker and was answered by entertainment lawyer David Albert Pierce.
In Canada, the question "Do I need permission to film Canadian currency?" was answered by Bob Tarantino in Heenan Blaikie's Entertainment & Media Law Signal.
The answer in both countries: generally, it's OK to film currency for movies and TV programs, and no permission is necessary. But, as always with the law, there are nuances, explained in Pierce and Tarantino's analyses.
Prince William and Kate Middleton will get married next week, in what surely will be deemed the wedding of the century. Many people will want souvenirs to commemorate the event, and the free market will respond by providing them. I mention this, because the British are quite imaginative about creating special-purpose IP laws. They've got one for the 2012 Olympics (called the London Olympics Association Right). And they've long had a statute that grants perpetual copyright protection to "Peter Pan" (at least within the UK). So it's somewhat surprising that the British do not have a "royal rights" statute. That they don't means that souvenir sellers will be able to satisfy the demand for Royal Wedding memorabilia. On the other hand, there are official guidelines - issued by Lord Chamberlain's Office - concerning the use of photographs on wedding souvenirs. And traditional copyright principles continue to apply as well. All this is explained quite nicely by Shepherd and Wedderburn, in an article titled Everyone Wants to Share in the Royal Couple's Happy Day.
The latest issue of Private Client Issues is a special edition devoted to the arts. Published by the British firm Blake Lapthorn, the periodical features these articles:
- Charitable Giving by Authors and Scholars, by Alison Talbot
- Taxation of Works of Art and Chattels, by Alison Craggs
- Buying and Selling Works of Art - What are the Pitfalls?, by Lara Robson
- Would Mrs Bennett Approve?, by Christine Plews
- The Life of an Artist (Whether Writer, Sculptor or Actor) is surely a Romantic One . . . Isn't It?, by Caroline van Zyl
- Art and Business, by Christine Plews
Rick Kurnit - name-partner in New York City's Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz - is featured in the new movie "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold." The movie is the latest from "Super Size Me" filmmaker Morgan Spurlock. New York City lawyer Paul Brennan - Spurlock's own lawyer - also makes an on-screen appearance in his client's humorous documentary about product placement, marketing and advertising.
University of Sydney economists Nicolas de Roos and Jordi McKenzie have written Cheap Tuesdays and the Demand for Cinema. Their study is based on movie attendance patterns in Sydney, but their methods and conclusions look relevant world-round. The abstract:
Many movie markets are characterised by extensive uniform pricing practices, hampering the ability to estimate price elasticities of demand. Australia presents a rare exception, with most cinemas offering cheap Tuesday ticket prices. We exploit this feature to estimate a random coefficients discrete choice model of demand for the Sydney region in 2007. We harness an extensive set of film, cinema, and time-dependent characteristics to build a rich demand system. Our results are consistent with a market expansion effect from the practice of discounted Tuesday tickets, and suggest that cinemas could profit from price dispersion by discounts based on observable characteristics.
Our results imply that cinemas could increase profits by offering more off-peak pricing, and by employing variable film pricing practices. This doesn't necessarily imply that the pricing strategy should be particularly complex - it could be as simple as categorising certain films as "blockbusters", or offering a "new release" and "old release" price contingent upon some (commonly known and pre-specified) week of the run.
U.C. Davis law professor Thomas W. Joo has written A Contrarian View of Copyright: Hip-Hop, Sampling, and Semiotic Democracy. The abstract:
A dominant trend in intellectual property (IP) theory asserts that technologies such as digital copying enable individuals to resist the cultural dominance of the media industry. Under this view, individuals appropriate cultural material and “recode” it by assigning alternative meanings to it. By enabling more people to participate in the making of cultural meanings, recoding supposedly enhances “semiotic democracy.” IP theorists tend to argue that copyright law inhibits recoding, thus stifling semiotic democracy. The use of sampling in hip-hop music is frequently cited as a paradigmatic example of recoding that has been stifled by IP law.
This paper uses history, economics, and critical theory to question these arguments on both the empirical and theoretical levels. Many scholars assert that copyright law turned against recoding in the 1990s by requiring samplers to pay for copyright permission. But the music business – including the hip-hop sector – was already in the practice of paying for copyright permission. Judicial decisions simply codified existing practice, which treated copyright permission as merely one of the many costs of making music. Thus copyright law did not impede musical recoding generally or hip-hop specifically.
While economic markets work well in allocating recoding rights, however, this does not necessarily advance semiotic democracy, because market failures afflict the marketplace of ideas. Recoding embodies contradictory forces that both advance and retard semiotic democracy. Law and technology facilitating recoding not only help independent record labels and artists question the cultural meanings advanced by major record companies; they also allow the latter to appropriate from the former. Moreover, recoding not only creates new meanings from existing cultural materials, but also repeats and reinforces those dominant cultural meanings. Indeed, by creating alternative meanings for dominant cultural materials such as popular music, recoding can contribute to their commercial appeal and cultural influence.
The Copyright Office will host a roundtable on copyright protection for pre-1972 sound recordings on June 2, 2011, at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. It is possible that the roundtable will continue on a second day, June 3. The roundtable will be conducted to assist the Copyright Office in its study for Congress on the desirability and means of bringing sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972, under federal jurisdiction.
Oregon State Economics Professor Daniel F. Stone has given this belief some serious attention, and has come to the conclusion that the "hot hand" may not be a "myth" after all. Statistically-minded readers will find Professor Stone's reasoning in A Note on Measurement Error and the Hot Hand.
Loeb & Loeb's IP/Entertainment Law Weekly reports on (and links to):
No Doubt v. Activision Publishing, in which a California Court of Appeal held that Activision's use of the likenesses of the members of the band "No Doubt" was not transformative, and thus upheld a lower court order that denied Activision's motion to dismiss the band's right of publicity lawsuit.
Zamoyski v. Fifty-Six Hope Road Music, in which a federal District Court ruled that Bob Marley's heirs were entitled to attorneys' fees as the successful party in a copyright case, even though their claim was for declaratory relief concerning copyright ownership and breach of contract (rather than infringement); but the court awarded Marley's heirs only 55% of the amount they had requested because the opposing party's claim was not frivolous.
It isn't often that an academic offers to help the entertainment industry with legal arguments. (The industry, after all, does have paid professional help.) But Drake University law professor Peter Yu says he's done just that. Yu is a highly-regarded professor of IP law and the Director of Drake's Intellectual Property Law Center, so he knows whereof he speaks. His latest article is titled Digital Copyright and Confuzzling Rhetoric, and it appears in the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law. His thesis, and offer:
The entertainment industry tells people they shouldn’t steal music because they wouldn’t steal a car, but has anybody ever downloaded a car? Music fans praise Napster and other file-sharing services for helping to free artists from the stranglehold of the music industry, but how many of these services actually have shared profits with songwriters and performing artists? Industry representatives claim that people use YouTube primarily to listen to or watch copyrighted contents, but are they missing a big piece of the user-generated content picture? Artists are encouraged to forget about copyright and hold live concerts instead, but can all artists succeed under this alternative compensation model? Over the years, policymakers, industry representatives, consumer advocates, civil libertarians, academic commentators, and user communities have advanced many different arguments for or against stronger copyright protection and enforcement. This article examines eight of these arguments, which the author finds rather unpersuasive. It then outlines five strategies that seek to help the entertainment industry make its proposals for digital copyright reform more convincing. The article concludes with two short stories to illustrate the tremendous difficulty for the public to appreciate the complexities in copyright law. It underscores the paramount importance of making convincing arguments in the digital copyright debate.
Jerry Seinfeld has defeated a defamation claim filed against him by Missy Lapine, the author of The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals. At the same time, HarperCollins defeated Lapine's claim that it breached an implied contract by publishing Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food written by Sienfeld's wife Jessica. The decision of the New York state court in which these claims were rejected is reported upon (and linked to) in Loeb & Loeb's IP/Entertainment Law Weekly Case Update.