Month: May 2012

How saying ‘OK, OK’ cost firm $4 million

An appellate court recently has found that the creator of a TV show reasonably interpreted a producer’s informal statement “OK, OK, I get it,” as an acceptance of his offer and that an agreement the parties reached was not indefinite as to the categories included in determining net royalties. The case turned on comments made during negotiations by Richard C. Davis, founder of Trademark Properties Inc., a company specializing in buying, remodeling and selling houses for profit. He discussed whether his business could be the fodder for a reality television series with Charlie Nordlander, an A&E Executive.  Their negotiations led the parties to agree to jointly develop and produce the television series “Flip This House.”  The parties agree specifics of their agreement were never written down.  Still, the series pilot and thirteen episodes of Flip This House were filmed.  Then Davis and A&E disputed how to divide the show’s net revenues. And from there sprang a lawsuit.  Davis claimed he and A&E should split all net revenues 50-50; A&E denied it had agreed to the terms claimed by Davis. He filed a state-court action against A&E for breach of oral contract.  A&E got the action moved to federal court. A jury found in Davis’ favor, awarding $4 million in damages for half of all net revenues from the show. A&E appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, contending the evidence was insufficient to support a finding of a...

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Court cries foul on service for mobile sports

The Federal Court of Australia, has ruled that TV Now,  a service allowing subscribers to download sports events on mobile phones and tablets and watch them within minutes of a live broadcast, does not fall under the “private and domestic use” exception of the Copyright Act. This decision resulted from a challenge of licensed recordings made available on equipment operated by and located with a commercial third party and the legality of recordings stored on a cloud service operated by a commercial third party. While it may be an Australian appellate ruling, it falls in line with other case decisions that have halted this type of technology, overseas and in the United States. Some analysts see this decision with further implications for cloud-based services. Ars Technica reports further on these implications...

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‘Oh Really?’ Legal reckoning in ‘Due Date’

In ‘Oh, Really?’ the Biederman Blog’s editors — voracious consumers of all matters pop culture — cast a curious, skeptical, fun and smart end-of-the-week eye on popular productions, sharing their keen observations about legal matters these raise. Due Date is a typical road-trip movie, in which Robert Downey Jr. plays a high-strung architect, Peter Highman, returning home to Los Angeles from Atlanta for the birth of his first child when he meets Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis), a fatherless, jobless and shiftless, aspiring actor. In the opening scene, this unlikely pair gets booted from a plane and must drive to LA, encountering many bumps in the road on their quest to get home — and encountering some legal issues worth consideration. Let’s look first at that opening scene, where the intrepid duo not only gets tossed off their flight but also put on the federal no-fly list for tossing around in conversation the words terrorist and bomb. This list is supposed to bar suspicious characters from travel on commercial aircraft in or out of the United States. While a funny plot twist, the list generally bans individuals who pose genuine threats to the U.S., U.S. officials or the U.S. government. It’s under challenge by three Californians who argue their appearance on it violates their due process right and freedom to travel. And for folks like Pete and Ethan it can be not only a pain to be...

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As key evidence vanishes, ‘Peas’ prevail

A U.S. district judge in Santa Ana has granted summary judgment for defendants Williams Adams Jr. and members of the Black Eyed Peas band, their producers, publishers and record company and against plaintiff-songwriter Bryan Pringle in a copyright infringement dispute.  The court ruled that the Peas’ 2009 song, I Gotta Feeling, did not infringe plaintiff’s 1998 tune, Take a Dive, nor his derivative work, Take a Drive (Dance Version). And the judge found that Pringle, though his attorneys were warned to preserve evidence potentially crucial to defending the case, later would claim these key materials had vanished and were unavailable.  The court said that an important basis for Pringle’s claim, an eight-bar guitar twang sequence in Take a Dive (Dance Version), lacked standing.  A previous post on iptrademarkattorney.com compares the two musical works in this suit; click to listen to audio clips and read the initial complaint. In 1998, Pringle registered a CD, Dead Beat Club: 1998, containing an original of Take a Dive and other works with the U.S. Copyright Office. Then in November, 2010, he filed an infringement suit after the Peas released I Gotta Feeling.  He also sought registration from the U.S. Copyright Office for both the sound recording of Take a Dive (Dance Version) and the music of a guitar twang sequence. The sound recording was registered but officials denied registration to the music, saying it lacked original authorship.  The court said that because Pringle’s registration for the...

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