Month: January 2012

How releases can bedevil reality programming

To the rest of the civilization, Los Angeles truly is the “entertainment capital of the world,” a sunny spot where officials calculate there were the equivalent of 45,484 days of permitted production (movie or television shooting) in 2011 alone. But to anyone who has channel-surfed at any time recently, it’s also clear that a growing share of contemporary programming has channeled itself into a Wild, Wild West — the hair-raising or norm-lowering genre of so-called “reality” shows, with bored and affluent housewives, bored and brawling kids from questionable shores or bored but challenged participants in a medley of talent, survival or other kinds of human contests. With all manner of pitches for such programming flying, and with crews descending on locations across the Southland, a crucial legal question is emerging for those who make these types of show or who are in entertainment law: Just how much protection can a few pieces of paper afford? Can the inking of a release lead to legal nirvana? At a recent conference, Angels and Demons: Navigating Tricky Entertainment and Media Issues to Reach Legal Nirvana, hosted by the Biederman Entertainment & Media Law Institute and the Media Law Resource Center, a panel — “Exorcising Rights: Releasing the Demons in Reality Programming — explored reality TV releases, how much they cover and how far these documents can be stretched to assist in expanding...

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Do popular search engines drive content piracy?

Entertainment industry groups are concerned with search engines, such as Google and Bing, directing consumers to illegal sites where they can obtain music and films. Campaigners would like the government to establish a voluntary group in charge of removing illegal sites from internet search results. Check out the article, written by Josh Halliday, discussing the intermediaries that may be playing an essential role in entertainment content theft here: Entertainment Lobby Claims Google, Bing Send Users to Illegal Music...

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A high legal kick for less than model conduct

Ever since a most-likely-to-succeed aspirant named Paula Abdul thrust herself from leaping about courtside with the Los Angeles Laker Girls into a considerable entertainment career, sneers have abated about the talent on professional sports teams’ cheerleader squads, be they the women who rah-rah-rah for the Dallas Cowboys, the Florida Marlins or whomever. But once cheerleaders also got into the 21st century business of promoting themselves and their entertainment endeavors online, was it inevitable, as recently occurred in Miami, that there would be instances of less than model behavior? Let’s look at Ordonez v. Icon Sky Holdings LLC., 10-cv-60156-PAS (S.D. Fla. Aug. 30, 2011) In a trademark dispute between two models vying for control of an online presence, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida recently awarded damages following the defendant’s efforts to destroy another model’s online social networking presence. As reported by Christopher Danzig, U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz ruled for Elizabeth Ordonez, awarding $81,000 in damages and $25,000 in attorney’s fees for claims of common law trademark infringement, tortious interference, libel, among other claims. Ordonez, a native of Miami (shown at left in photos she has posted on a modeling site), is a singer-songwriter, model, dancer and choreographer and actress.  Fans know her  by her stage name “Elizabeth (Liz) Sky.” Nisha Elizabeth George, the defendant, knew of Ordonez’s “Elizabeth Sky” handle, and, after trademark registration...

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L.A. porn regulation: wrapping up or starting?

Can the adult movie industry either wrap up one of its key resources or successfully wrap itself in the First Amendment and its possible protections from new regulation by the city of Los Angeles, and, maybe Los Angeles County? The answer may take a few reels …The Los Angeles City Council has voted 9-1 for a new ordinance to require all porn performers to wear condoms during their filming in the city — but this measure can be enforced only if any kind of municipal permits are involved (it does not affect shoots in studios, for example). Council members acted on Jan. 17 after the L.A.-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation collected enough signatures to force a June municipal ballot measure on a porn-condom ordinance, a voter consideration that could have cost the financially strapped city millions for an election decision. (The group is still pushing for a similar countywide ballot initiative for November.) The porn industry vehemently opposes the condom ordinance — signed into law on Tuesday by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — and has threatened to leave Los Angeles if it takes effect.  The fear that the multibillion-dollar industry would flee its San Fernando Valley base may not exactly send shivers through municipal policy-makers and there may be constitutional challenges to this ordinance long before any props get packed for any moves. Indeed, those who advocate for the adult entertainment...

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High court affirms Congress’ copyright shift

With Congress locked in perpetual disagreement with the president and its poll-measured public popularity plummeting to historic lows, legislators surely could use a boost from the U.S. Supreme Court. But the justices’ 6-2 decision in Golan v. Holder, which both affirmed lawmakers’ treaty-making power and huge sway over the details of U.S. copyright law, including attempts to align the American system with international practices, also has served to aggravate First Amendment advocates, scholars and educators and many involved in music (such as devotees of composer Sergei Prokiev, right) and film. Here’s why: The fracas dates to 1994, when Congress enacted a law to fulfill an international convention that gave works enjoying copyright protection abroad the same full term of protection available to U. S. works. The Supreme Court has just affirmed the constitutionality of that law, notably how it supports Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act. It  grants through treaty the copyright protection to preexisting international works, protected in their country of origin, but lacking that status in the United States for any of three reasons: The United States did not protect works from the country of origin at the time of publication; the United States did not protect sound recordings fixed before 1972; or the author had failed to comply with U. S. statutory formalities (formalities Congress no longer requires as prerequisites to copyright protection). In deciding Golan, the...

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