Month: October 2012

AMC-Dish case turns to settlement, with a twist

Cablevision and AMC Networks have settled their lawsuit with Dish Network. Here are the terms: Dish pays $700 million; AMC and Dish enter into a long-term deal bringing back AMC channels to Dish; Dish gets spectrum licenses for video and data distribution to 45 metropolitan areas in the U.S. Plaintiffs sought damages, asserting that Dish had breached an affiliate agreement by terminating AMC’s Voom HD Network in 2008. The case veered after a preliminary ruling in which the judge in the case decided to tell jurors that Dish “destroyed potentially critical evidence in the case.” The judge told jurors they could infer that the evidence “would have been unfavorable to Dish” and he did not approve any the three witnesses for which Dish had sought expert designation. Pending execution of the joint stipulation to judgment, the case eventually will be dismissed without prejudice. The lawsuit was filed in the Supreme Court in New York. Josh Sapan, president and CEO, AMC Networks, observed after the ruling: “We are glad to partner again with DISH Network and are delighted to bring back our popular channels and programming to their customers.”  The channels should be back on Dish Network. The part of the settlement that may be less obvious: Dish will pay $80 million as part of the $700-million settlement for 45 spectrum licenses.  The 500 MHz of wireless spectrum acquired by...

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Judge halts suit over buffed up Einstein ad

A depiction of a buffed up Albert Einstein does not provide grounds for a lawsuit, U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz in Los Angeles has decided. He has ended Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s lawsuit against General Motors LLC over Einstein’s postmortem right of publicity. The judge said the New Jersey Supreme Court “would likely find that the [Garden State’s] common law postmortem right of publicity endures for no more than 50 years after death” and that California’s right of publicity statute does not apply to the university. Einstein died in 1955; his image is now in the public domain. But GM licensed...

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Q-and-A: Jason Beckerman, attorney for TMZ

You’ve seen him on TV and on the web as “the lawyer” on TMZ. No, not the one with the graphic at the end of the show that says, “I’m a lawyer” (Harvey Levin), but the on-camera, in-office, actual lawyer. Jason Beckerman is the head of Legal and Business Affairs for TMZ, where he is lucky enough to work alongside “the hardest working and funniest group of people in the entertainment industry,” he says.  “The days are long and the pressure is intense, but it’s never not interesting.” He sat down at the request of the Biederman Blog to discuss his work: Question — What projects are on your to-do list right now and how typical is this of your typical workload? Answer — I wear two hats at TMZ – legal affairs and business affairs.  My legal affairs work is pretty much the same every day: I vet the TV show and the web site content. The business affairs portion of my job varies day to day largely depending on the nature and status of the various deals we’re negotiating.   Today, for example, I’m working on negotiations with two companies that provide photos and videos to TMZ, and a third company we’re thinking about doing a joint venture with.  TMZ is expanding incredibly quickly, which means we’re either contemplating doing business or actively negotiating deals with a host...

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Online piracy? This study torpedoes big claims

The music industry is saved!  It turns out that all those pirates sitting in front of their computers sharing files are the very same consumers who spend the most money on recorded music.  The American Assembly, which says it was founded by Dwight D. Eisenhower “to illuminate issues of public policy,” and Google sponsored a research project performed by Princeton Survey Research Associates International on Americans’ attitudes on digital media. The report should be out later this year but preliminary results are contained here. Findings include that: those who pirate are most likely to purchase; legal streaming services are reducing piracy; less than 2 percent of Americans are heavy music pirates (having more than 1,000 digital files); and only 51% of respondents supported a fine for illegal downloading.  This study is, of course, at odds with press fromRIAA (the Recording Industry Association of America) and a 2007 finding by the Institute for Policy Innovation, which blames piracy for $12.5 billion dollars in losses to the U.S. economy and 70,000 lost jobs.  Whatever your personal feelings, making unauthorized copies is still against the law, and, as recently as May, the U.S. Supreme Court let  a $675,000 judgment stand against defendant Joel Tenebaum over his piracy of 30 songs.  ...

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Global grappling with trade pacts, IP regulation

The United States and European Union (EU) announced this week that they will pursue a trade treaty in 2013 but also have decided they will not take up intellectual property issues that have proved to be a major sticking point in other trade accords. Last July, 92% of the EU Parliament voted to oppose the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), an attempt to create multinational IP enforcement standards.  Legislators expressed concerns with ACTA, including that it legitimized policing outside judicial structures and jeopardized basic freedoms. Support came from creative industries that depend on intellectual property to grow their businesses. Some of the concerns with ACTA  are detailed here by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a donor-supported nonprofit that crusades for digital freedom. Canada secretly has been negotiating a trade agreement with the EU and a leaked view of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) shows it to be a Trojan horse for ACTA. Michael Geist, a Canadian law prof, has analyzed the two treaties in his online column. CETA, like ACTA, gets business involved in copyright enforcement, has a digital lock rule and taps other ACTA provisions word for word. Accords reached in secret, of course, typically lack popular appeal. ACTA and CETA look to move power from the World Trade Organization  and the World Intellectual Property Organization  to independent enforcement agencies. The United States signed ACTA in October, 2011, but there is controversy as to whether it takes force without congressional approval.  The Office of U.S. Trade makes a...

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