12/31/2010

Hollywood v. Bollywood . . . and vice versa

UC Davis law professor Madhavi Sunder has written Bollywood/Hollywood, a fascinating look at plagiarism claims and cross-claims involving movies made in America and India. The abstract:
Free flow of culture is not always fair flow of culture. A recent spate of copyright suits by Hollywood against Bollywood accuses the latter of ruthlessly copying movie themes and scenes from America. But claims of cultural appropriation go far back, and travel in multiple directions. The revered American director, Steven Spielberg, has been accused of copying the idea for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial from legendary Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s 1962 script, The Alien. Disney’s The Lion King bears striking similarities to Osamu Tezuka’s Japanese anime series, Kimba the White Lion. Neither Ray nor Tezuka’s studio sued the American filmmakers and this Article is by no means an attempt to revive any particular legal case. Rather, this Article considers copyright’s role in promoting free cultural exchange, albeit on fair terms in a global marketplace of ideas marked by sharp differentials in power, wealth, and knowledge.

12/30/2010

Domain name seizures; defamation injunction; Ohio sales tax on DirectTV

  • Terry Hart rebuts criticisms of the government's recent seizures of domain names that were being used to distribute counterfeit and infringing copies of copyrighted goods. The latest criticism focused on the warrant that authorized a seizure. But in a Copyhype post titled Domain Name Seizure Warrant and Probable Cause, Hart reviews Supreme Court decisions concerning the issuance of warrants, and explains why a "legal challenge to [the criticized] warrant would not likely be successful."
  • In his Internet Cases blog, Evan Brown reports on a recent Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision that held that an injunction that had ordered the defendants to remove defamatory content from the website to which it had been posted could not be enforced against the website itself, because the plaintiffs had not shown that the website had participated in the posting.
  • Media Law Prof Blog notes (and links to) a decision of the Ohio Supreme Court which upheld the constitutionality of a state statute that imposes sales tax on satellite TV service but not on cable TV service. The court's website includes an audio recording of the oral argument in the case, which was filed by DirecTV.

12/29/2010

Guide to incentives for interactive entertainment production in U.S. and Canada

Sean Kane, of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, has written two valuable White Papers on government incentives, in the United States and in Canada, for the production of interactive entertainment.

12/28/2010

Art and law

The latest issue of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler's art law publication The Legal Canvas features these articles by Hugh Freund, Jo Laird and John Sare:

  • Under What Circumstances Does a Copy Become an Original?
  • Market Thoughts
  • Defending Fair Use Against Technological Blocks
  • Art Meets Commercialism Meets Lawsuit: Blurring the Line Between Art and Merchandise Can Be Perilous
  • The Changing Face of Artist's Resale Royalties
  • In Fisk Litigation, Court's Solomonic Decision Proves Controversial
  • Quick Updates: Joe Simon-Whelan Drops Antitrust Suit Against Warhol Foundation; NYPMIFA - New York's New Rules for Investment Management and Endowment Spending
  • New York Sales Tax: Risks for Limited Partners and Members of LLC's

FCC fines broadcasters

Scott Flick and Christine Reilly, of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, have reported on three recent enforcement actions by the Federal Communications Commission, all resulting in fines being assessed against the offending broadcasters. The headlines in their FCC Enforcement Monitor Advisory:
  • FCC Fines Pennsylvania Broadcaster $10,000 for Repeated Failure to Employ Adequate Personnel
  • AM Broadcaster’s Failure to Maintain Equipment Results in $6,000 Fine
  • FCC Fines Ohio Broadcaster $4,000 for Failure to Disclose the Material Terms of a Contest

12/27/2010

Top 10 entertainment cases of the year

Top 10 lists are customary this time of year, though lists for lawyers typically are things-to-buy or places-to-go. Now, for hardcore entertainment lawyers (and law students looking for law review or seminar topics), Matt Belloni and Eriq Gardner have posted something different and interesting: their list of the Top 10 Hollywood Lawsuits of 2010 at the Hollywood Reporter's legal blog, THR, Esq.

UK digital music market threatened by illegal downloads

BPI - the British recording industry trade association - has published a 36-page report titled Digital Music Nation 2010. The illustrated and statistic-supported document concludes that "The UK's digital music market continues to expand, but record levels of illegal downloading present a serious threat to the county's online music future."

12/24/2010

UK not-for-profits need music licenses now too

The Scottish law firm MacRoberts reports that the music performance licensing exemption previously available to "third sector organizations" in the UK "is to be abolished." Third sector organizations are charities and other not-for-profits. In Music Licensing Exemption for Charities Abolished, the firm explains that
...public venues, used by charities and other non-for-profit organisations, and in which music is played, will require licences from two copyright collecting societies – PPL [which collects fees for performers and record companies] and the Performing Right Society [which collects for songwriters and composers].

12/23/2010

More about "World of Warcraft" play-by-bot decision

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in Blizzard v. MDY has attracted attention across the Internet. In addition to last week's post in Developing Concerns, the court's opinion has been noted, linked-to and commented upon in:

12/22/2010

Entertainment law podcast: Jim Morrison pardon, Dora the Explorer case, top stories of 2010

Los Angeles lawyer Gordon Firemark talks with Dallas lawyer Tamera Bennett about recent developments - including the Jim Morrison pardon, the settlement of the "Dora the Explorer" lawsuit, the Supreme Court's denial of cert in the "innocent infringer" music downloads case, and their top stories for 2010 - in a downloadable podcast, accessible, without charge, at Entertainment Law Update. CLE credit is available for California lawyers. (Firemark teaches Theater Law in Southwestern Law School's Online Entertainment Law LLM Program.)

12/21/2010

Beatles on iTunes; parallel imports of copyrighted goods

Foley & Hoag's Trademark & Copyright Law features two posts of interest.
  • In "Apple and the Beatles: The End of a Long and Winding Road?," Sam Hudson views the sale of Beatles recordings on iTunes as the "final act in the resolution of the long-running trademark dispute between Apple Computer and Apple Corp." 
  • In "Supreme Court Evenly Split in Costco v. Omega," Anthony Rufo concludes that "With the ever increasing internationalization of commerce, it is likely only a matter of time before this issue [the unauthorized imports of foreign-made copyrighted goods] again makes its way before the high court."

Loans to Dominican baseball players; copyright/free speech (cont'd)

  • Willamette law professor Jeffrey Standen has posted a six-point response to critics of player agents who have given large loans to baseball players in the Dominican Republic, in his blog The Sports Law Professor.
  • Terry Hart continues his earlier discussion of copyright and free speech in a post titled "Speech Interests of Creators" in his Copyhype blog.

Real sales tax, in virtual worlds

University of Minnesota law student J. Robert Schlimgen has written a Note titled Virtual World, Real Taxes: A Sales and Use Tax Adventure Through Second Life Starring Dwight Schrute. The article was prompted by this fact:
As virtual economies, such as Second Life, have grown, academic speculation has begun as to the tax ramifications. Although federal income tax consequences have been addressed by academics, and even caught the attention of Congress and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), state and local taxes have been largely ignored.
Schlimgen's article adresses that gap, and it comes to this conclusion:
Given the growing budget problems of many state and local governments, it is time for such governments to start looking at options to expand the tax base. Digital consumption is only going to increase in the coming years, and it presents the perfect opportunity for state and local governments to expand their tax base in a fair and equitable manner. Although there may be roadblocks . . . , a framework can be constructed to make such a tax enforceable without discouraging a mobile work force.
Hat Tip: TaxProf Blog

12/20/2010

Free agency in pro sports

Steve Olenick, a lawyer at Davis & Gilbert, and Mike Dolan, editor-in-chief of Athletes Quarterly, talk with Lee Pacchia of "Bloomberg Law" about free agency in professional sports. The topic is prompted by recent decisions by NBA stars LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join Dwyane Wade to play for the Miami Heat.

Recent decisions: right of publicity vs Disney's "Cars"; projected profits as copyright damages

The current issue (12/15/10) of Loeb & Loeb's IP/Entertainment Law Weekly Case Update reports on (and links to) interesting decisions in two cases:

Brill v. The Walt Disney Company, in which the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals held that Disney's animated movie "Cars" did not infringe the publicity rights of race car driver Mark Brill, even though Brill drives a red race car bearing the number 95 and the movie's "Lightning McQueen" character is a red race car bearing the number 95.

Looney Ricks Kiss Architects v. Bryan, in which a federal district court in Louisiana held that the defendants' projected profits were relevant as a measure of the plaintiff's damages, in a copyright infringement case.

12/17/2010

TV sets will stop shouting commercials, soon

TV viewers can control the volume of their digital TV sets with pin-point precision along a scale from 0 to 100. But viewers' settings have been virtually worthless when commercials come on, because many broadcasters boost the sound volume of commercials. They do this, apparently, so commercials can be heard even by viewers who've left the room for a quick visit to the refrigerator (or elsewhere). The volume boost may be unobjectionable to those who do leave the room, but it's an auditory assault on those who don't. After years of viewer complaints, and assertions that "there ought to be a law," there finally is. Congress has enacted, and the President has signed, the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act. The new law - popularly known as the CALM Act - requires the FCC to adopt (within one year) a regulation that will limit the loudness of TV commercials to a level recommended by the Advanced Television Systems Committee - a non-profit organization that develops international standards for digital television. (In return, broadcasters would probably like a law that prohibits viewers from recording programs and fast-forwarding through commercials; but that wasn't, and isn't, on the table.)

New Journal: Global Sports Law and Taxation Reports

The Dutch company NOLOT Publishing has started a new quarterly journal titled "Global Sports Law and Taxation Reports," to be edited by Professor Ian Blackshaw and Dr Rijkele Betten. The journal is available only by subscription (€350/year). But three articles from the first issue are available online, at no cost:

12/16/2010

Recent decision: "World of Warcraft" vs play-by-bot

In ReedSmith's Developing Concerns, Drew Boortz analyzes (and links to) the Ninth Circuit's recent decision in MDY Industries, LLC v. Blizzard Entertainment which held that MDY software that plays Blizzard's "World of Warcraft" automatically, without human-player involvement, does not infringe Blizzard's copyright (because of the specific wording of Blizzard's ULA) but does violate Blizzard's access control rights under the DMCA.

12/15/2010

Webcaster royalties; copyright and free speech; Supreme Court on copyright 2010

  • The Copyright Royalty Board has determined the royalty rates to be paid from 2011 through 2015 by webcasters (who haven't signed a voluntary agreement under the Webcaster Settlement Act). David Oxenford explains the rates, with admirable clarity, at Davis Wright Tremaine's Broadcast Law Blog.
  • When most people think about Copyright's relationship with the First Amendment, they think about the free speech rights of those who use copyrighted works without permission. Terry Hart looks at the flip side in a Copyhype post titled "The Chilling Effect of Copyright Infringement." His well-made point: infringement has a chilling effect on the free speech rights of copyright owners, and that "Favoring one group’s free speech interests [those of users] over another’s [copyright owners] runs counter to the values enshrined in the first amendment and the copyright clause."
  • Brad Newberg, of Reed Smith, posted an excellent review of the Supreme Court's copyright activitity, and inactivity, this year. In a guest commentary in The Legal Post titled "The Supreme Court Left Most Copyright Litigants Wanting in 2010," he covers: the Court's denial of cert in Harper v. Marverick Recording and Bryant v. Media Right Productions; its avoidence of the registration-vs-application issue in Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick; and its 4-4 split in Costco v. Omega.

12/14/2010

No laughing matter: humor and the law (More)

Temple law professor Laura Little has written a very serious article (309 footnotes!) about humor: Just a Joke: Defamatory Humor and Incongruity’s Promise. From the abstract:
Humor often arises as a defense in defamation actions, with defendants claiming that their challenged communication was "just a joke." . . . In grappling with humor, courts usually invoke First Amendment doctrine’s familiar distinction between fact and opinion. If a putative joke is sorted down the "opinion" chute, then the humorist faces no civil liability. If, on the other hand, the putative joke suggests false facts unfavorable to the plaintiff, the defendant may face liability. Useful as an analytical starting point, this fact/opinion dichotomy does not adequately integrate all the values and concerns that come into play where humor and defamation law collide.
With the publication of this article about defamation, Professor Little looks to be well on her way to an entire book on the law of humor. In her earlier article Regulating Funny: Humor and the Law, she covered the treatment of humor in the law of contracts, trademarks, and employment discrimination. (That too was a serious piece, though it had fewer footnotes - only 279.)

__________________________________________

More: Professor Little's articles focus on how the law treats humor. University of Virginia law professors Dotan Oliar and Christopher Sprigman are interested in another side of the humor/law relationship: whether professional comedians protect their jokes using social norms rather than the law. Their analysis and conclusions have implications that go well beyond the world of comedy. (Indeed, their articles are the basis for a chapter they have written for the forthcoming book Making and Unmaking Intellectual Property: Creative Production in Legal and Cultural Perspective.) But even for those who are primarily interested in the law-of-humor, their work and the responses it has provoked, are essential pieces of the whole. Here are those pieces:

Developments in the UK: Harry Potter case; Force India Formula One case; London Olympics regulations

The November 2010 issue of McDermott Will & Emery's European IP Bulletin features reports on three developments in the UK, of interest to entertainment and sports lawyers everywhere.
  • "Harry Potter v Willy the Wizard" reports on Allen v. Bloomsbury Publishing in which a UK court denied the defendants' motion to dismiss claims that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire infringes the copyright to Willy the Wizard.
  • "Giedo Van der Garde BV v Force India Formula One Team Ltd: Breach of Service Agreement, Restitution and 'Wrotham Park' Damages" reports on Giedo Van der Garde BV v Force India Formula One Team, in which a UK court found that Force India Formula One Team Ltd breached its contract with Giedo Van der Garde by not providing him with the minimum number of driving kilometres for which he had paid $3 million in order to get experience to win a Formula One driving seat.
  • "Olympics, Paralympics and London Olympics Association Rights: Remedies for Infringement" reports on new UK regulations that create remedies for the infringement of the new London Olympics Association Right.

12/13/2010

Identity of Top Gear's "The Stig" is revealed; UK court refuses to enjoin breach of confidentiality clause in agreement between BBC and The Stig's loan-out company

The world now knows that "The Stig" is Ben Collins, though for years, his identity was a closely-guarded secret. Collins outed himself in his recently published autobiography, The Man in the White Suit. Collins wrote the book, and authorized HarperCollins to publish it, over the objections of the BBC which is the producer of "Top Gear," a popular British television series which featured Collins as the show's unidentified, non-speaking and always-helmeted race car driver. The Stig's identity was kept secret to add drama and humor to the series, and the agreement between the BBC and Collins' loan-out company included a confidentiality clause. The BBC relied on that clause when it sued Collins, seeking a court order that would have barred him from disclosing that he was The Stig. Collins signed that contract on behalf of his loan-out, but he did not sign it individually. For that reason, a UK High Court of Justice denied the BBC's request for an injunction.

Recent decisions: Maverick Recording "innocent infringer" case; Ansel Adams "lost negatives" case

The December 8, 2010 edition of Loeb & Loeb's IP/Entertainment Law Weekly Case Update for Motion Picture Studios and Television Networks reports on (and links to the full texts of) two recent rulings:

Justice Alioto's dissent from the Supreme Court's denial of certiorari in Harper v. Maverick Recording - a case in which lower courts have held that the "innocent infringer" defense is not available to those who download digital music files created from recordings that contain copyright notices.

Ansel Adams Publishing v. PRS Media, in which a federal District Court denied a motion to dismiss trademark, false advertising, right of publicity and unfair competition claims against those who sought to market what they say are recently discovered "lost negatives" of photographs taken by Ansel Adams.

    Google books settlement: New York Law School's "D is for Digitize" Conference

    The Google books settlement isn't final yet, but it's already generated copious commentary. The latest issue of the New York Law School Law Review features (as described in the Introduction)
    seven articles springing from the D Is for Digitize conference on the Google Books lawsuit and settlement, held at New York Law School October 8–10, 2009. In the spirit of Chaucer’s "good feyth," thirty panelists and over one hundred attendees (plus dozens more watching online) gathered to discuss the legal and social issues raised by the proposed settlement. For three days, lawyers, academics, librarians, programmers, and public-interest advocates met for a rich, respectful, and wide-ranging conversation on this once-in-a-lifetime settlement. These articles continue that conversation.
    The featured symposium articles:
    D Is for Digitize: An Introduction, by James Grimmelmann

    Google Book Settlement and the Fair Use Counterfactual, by Matthew Sag

    Fulfulling the Copyright Social Justice Promise: Digitized Textual Information, by Lateef Mtima & Steven D. Jamar

    Orphan Works and the Google Book Search Settlement: An International Perspective, by Bernard Lang

    H Is for Harmonization: The Google Book Search Settlement and Orphan Works Legislation in the European Union, by Katharina de la Durantaye

    Continued DOJ Oversight of the Google Book Search Settlement: Defending Our Public Values and Protecting Competition, by Christopher A. Suarez

    Digitial + Library: Mass Book Digitization as Collection Inquiry, by Mary Murrell

    The Why in DIY Book Scanning, by Daniel Reetz
    The issue also includes these student-authored notes and comments about other Google-related legal issues:
    Bricks, Mortar, and Google: Defining the Relevant Antitrust Market for Internet-Based Companies, by Jared Kagan

    Cohen v. Google, Inc., by Eirik Cheverud

    12/10/2010

    UK Supreme Court allows "fair comment" defense in libel lawsuit filed by bands against former booking agent

    London has been called the "libel capital" of the world and a "libel tourism" destination. Indeed, things had become so bad - from an American perspective - that last August (2010), Congress passed the "Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act," referred to as the "SPEECH Act" for short. The law prohibits American courts from enforcing a foreign defamation judgment, unless the American court determines that the foreign defamation law provides as much protection for speech as does the First Amendment. The legislative history of the SPEECH Act makes it clear that it was aimed at - or at least provoked by - British libel judgments.

    Even some Brits agree that UK libel law is heavy-handed. In a recent decision, the UK Supreme Court noted that:
    All three major UK political parties committed to libel reform in their manifestos ahead of this year's [2010's] general election, admitting that the current law did not give enough protection to writers and publishers and favoured those suing for libel too heavily. Lord McNally told a meeting of libel reform activists that, "in its current state, English libel law is not fit for purpose". We agree [with campaigners that] the law needs reforming and have been working on a draft Defamation Bill, which we hope to publish and put out for consultation in March [2011]," he said.
    The case in which this statement was made did not involve Americans. It was a libel lawsuit filed by two British bands - "The Gillettes" and "Saturday Night at the Movies" - against their former booking agent, as a result of unflattering things the agent said about the bands on the agent's website. In response to the suit, the agent asserted the defense of "fair comment" - a defense that lower courts said was not available, because the agent had not stated the facts that were the basis for his unflattering comments, as British law then required. However, in its opinion in Spiller v. Joseph, the UK Supreme Court has ruled that the "fair comment" defense is available, so long as the offending statement "implicitly indicate[s], at least in general terms, the facts on which it is based." The agent's website satisfied that standard.

    Willamette Sports Law Journal

    The Willamette University College of Law has published a new issue of its Willamette Sports Law Journal. This issue of the twice-yearly, online, journal features these articles:
    Unnecessary Roughness: When On-field Conduct Leads to Civil Liability in Professional Sports, by Michael K. Zitelli 
    Double Play: How Major League Baseball Can Fix the Amateur Draft and International Player Acquisition with One Swing, by Matthew Piehl
    Changing the Play: Football and the Criminal Law After the Trial of Jason Stinson, by Zac DesAutels, and
    What Happens When the Bubble Bursts? Why Sports Teams Must Learn form the Collapse of the Dallas Cowboys' Practice Facility, by Aaron T. Lloyd

    12/09/2010

    "360 Deals": Do they create fiduciary relationships?

    Royalty disputes between recording artists and record labels often degenerate into breach of contract claims, and, almost as often, breach of fiduciary relationship claims too. Courts have regularly held that the artist-label relationship does not impose a fiduciary duty on record companies. But Atlanta lawyer Douglas Okorocha thinks that the recent advent of "360 deals" may be a game-changer. In A Full 360: How the 360 Deal Challenges the Historical Resistance towards Establishing a Fiduciary Duty between Recording Artist and Record Label - an article soon to be published in the UCLA Entertainment Law Review - Okorocha acknowledges that "Courts have historically denied claims that artists and their respective record labels are fiduciaries to one another." But he suggests that
    360 deals can invoke a fiduciary duty among artist and label because they have the potential to transform the relationship into a partnership. A partnership is defined as an association of two or more persons to carry on as co-owners of a business. Partnerships carry with them fiduciary obligations. If artist and label are found to be partners under a 360 deal, then, as a matter of law, they become fiduciaries.
    The question of whether artists and labels have fiduciary relationships matters, because if they do, artists may have greater rights and better remedies than they would with breach of contract claims alone.

    12/08/2010

    Recent UK cases: TV Catch Up; Football Dataco

    Barrister Jane Lambert, the head and founder of NIPC Law,
    reports (and links to) a UK High Court of Justice decision in ITV Broadcasting v. TV Catch Up. The court declined to dismiss a copyright infringement suit filed by television broadcasters against the operator of a website that allows its subscribers to watch live TV broadcasts on their computers or mobile devices. The website operator sought dismissal on the grounds that it was neither "broadcasting" TV programs nor "making [them] available to the public," both of which require a license under UK law. Though these arguments seem far-fetched to an American law professor, Ms. Lambert commented that
    It is important to stress that the judge did not give judgment to the broadcasters. He simply said that they could win at trial and he has allowed them to continue their action.
    Bird & Bird report on another UK High Court of Justice decision, in which the court also denied a defense motion to dismiss. The defendants in Football Dataco v. Sportradar copied and sold the claimants' statistics from UK football matches - activities which are said to infringe the claimants' copyright and database rights. The first issue before the court was whether it had jurisdiction to hear the case. Though the claimants are UK nationals, the defendants are German and Swiss; and they argued that they are not "making [copies of the claimants' database] available" in the UK, because the defendants' servers are only in Germany and Austria - not in the UK. The judge agreed:
    I have come to the conclusion that the better view is that the act of making available to the public by online transmission is committed and committed only where the transmission takes place. It is true that the placing of data on a server in one state can make the data available to the public of another state but that does not mean that the party who has made the data available has committed the act of making available by transmission in the State of reception. I consider that the better construction of the provisions is that the act only occurs in the state of transmission.
    Nevertheless, the court refused to dismiss the case, because the defendants' customers in the UK also were alleged to have violated the claimants' copyright and database rights; and though the customers were not sued, the defendants were said to have authorized and been jointly liable for their customers' infringements.

    12/07/2010

    A guide to media, technology and telecom law in 24 countries

    Sometimes less is more, especially when you need a guide to the essentials of law in a country that is literally foreign to you. That appears to be the editorial philosophy behind The Technology, Media and Telecommunications Review - a new journal edited by John Janka of Latham & Watkins. The first issue features articles by Latham lawyers and others describing key features of the laws of 24 countries that have a bearing on technology, media and telecommunications. The Review is published in print by Law Business Research Ltd, a British company based in London. But the articles written by Latham lawyers also have been posted on the firm's website. Take a look if you're curious about the laws of the UK, Japan, Hong Kong, France, Germany, or the U.S.

    12/06/2010

    New Canadian guidelines for international co-productions

    Heenan Blaikie's Entertainment & Media Law Signal reports that Canada has published updated guidelines for international co-productions. The post includes links to the new guidelines, as well as to other documents of interest to those who are involved in cross-border co-productions or would like to be.

    Federal copyright for pre-1972 sound recordings? (Updated)

    The United States Copyright Office is conducting A Study on the Desirability of and Means for Bringing Sound Recordings Fixed Before February 15, 1972, Under Federal Jurisdiction. The background:
    Congress has directed the U.S. Copyright Office to conduct a study on the desirability and means of bringing sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972, under federal jurisdiction. The study is to cover the effect of federal coverage on the preservation of such sound recordings, the effect on public access to those recordings, and the economic impact of federal coverage on rights holders. The study is also to examine the means for accomplishing such coverage.
    Update: The Copyright Office has extended the deadlines for comments. As a result, initial comments are due January 31, 2011, and replies by March 2, 2011.

    12/04/2010

    Recent cases: Marvel; Sarah Palin; Michael Moore

    The December 1, 2010 edition of Loeb & Loeb's IP/Entertainment Law Weekly Case Update for Motion Picture Studios and Television Networks reports on (and links to the full texts of) three recent and newsworthy decisions:

    Marvel v. Kirby, in which the federal District Court in New York City dismissed counter-claims against Marvel and Disney by which Jack Kirby sought to terminate his transfers of the copyrights to comic books featuring Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk, The X-Men, and The Fantastic Four.

    HarperCollins v. Gawker Media, in which the federal District Court in New York City granted HarperCollins a temporary restraining order to prevent Gawker from publishing of excerpts of Sarah Palin’s new book, America By Heart, because the excerpts posted on Gawker's blog were not a fair use.

    Aronson v. Dog Eat Dog Films, in which a federal District Court in the state of Washington awarded Michael Moore, the producer of the documentary Sicko, attorneys’ fees, costs and statutory damages after granting his motion to strike the plaintiff's invasion of privacy and misappropriation of likeness claims under the Washington state Anti-SLAPP Act.

    12/03/2010

    Art law: Nazi-looted paintings; bank loans to art dealers

    The current issue of Herrick Feinstein's Art & Advocacy newsletter features articles on two topics of great interest to those practice art law.

    In What the Lady Has Wrought, Howard Spiegler comments on the ramifications of the recent settlement of the "Portrait of Wally" case -- a case brought by the United States government to recover possession of the painting while it was on loan from an Austrian museum to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

    In Bank Loans to Art Dealers, Stephen Brodie examines the problems that banks may have in connection with loans to art dealers, because Article 9 of the UCC may not apply to art consignments, and because those in the art world often rely on "handshake deals."

    Recent case: Newspaper Licensing Agency v Meltwater (UK)

    Hogan Lovells reports on (and links to) a British High Court ruling that requires online news monitoring services, and their users, to obtain copyright licenses in order to reproduce newspaper headlines or extracts in websites or emails of their own, even if the headlines or extracts are linked back to original newspaper sources. The London law firm noted that the decision
    is not a ruling on viewing and usage of internet content in general. It does, however, show how easy it can be to infringe copyright on the internet, in particular by copying small amounts of content such as extracts from newspapers. Where such copying enables a profitable business such as Meltwater, it is now more likely than ever that the content-owners will allege copyright infringement against the business and (it appears) the customers of that business.

    12/02/2010

    Greg Lastowka on the law in virtual worlds

    Rutgers law professor Greg Lastowka has written extensively on law in virtual worlds, and his work has been published, on paper, in law reviews from coast to coast. Now he has substantially revised and expanded his earlier articles into a 241-page book titled Virtual Justice: The New Laws of Online Worlds, published by Yale University Press. Though the book is a law book, Professor Lastowka's writing is extremely polished and readable. Virtual Justice is for lawyers, but it's also suitable for any of their teenage children -- especially those who spend time themselves in virtual worlds. Surprisingly, the entire book is online, free. Properly printed and bound copies also are available, for those who prefer their books that way.

    12/01/2010

    Recent cases: Baltimore Ravens; BBC TV game show

    The latest edition of MinterEllison's Intellectual Property Review reports on (and links to the full texts of) recent decisions in:

    Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens, in which a U.S. Court of Appeals held that certain uses by the Ravens of Bouchat's copyrighted logo were not a fair use and thus were infringing, while other uses were a fair use and thus not infringing.

    Meaken v. British Broadcasting Corp., in which a British High Court held that the BBC television program "Come and Have a Go...If You Think You Are Smart Enough" did not infringe whatever copyrights the plaintiff may own in game show proposals he had written.

    Roger Abrams' new book: Sports Justice

    Northeastern law professor Roger Abrams has published Sports Justice: The Law and the Business of Sports. He just completed what he described as a "virtual" book tour. The tour was "virtual" because instead of going on the road (and missing classes), he did a series of radio interviews with "sports jocks and drive-time radio folks" (and thus missed no classes). He wrote about the experience and his book in The Huffington Post.