Month: October 2013

For lawyers, personal managers, talent act woe

While California’s Talent Agencies Act has been the law of the Golden State for more than a half century, it poses challenges still to lawyers working in Entertainment and is under recent and persistent fire from personal managers. §1700.5 of the state Labor Code says: “No person shall engage in or carry on the occupation of a talent agency without first procuring a license therefore from the Labor Commissioner.” And the act specifies that a talent agent is “a person or corporation who engages in the occupation of procuring, offering, promising, or attempting to procure employment or engagements for an artist or artists.” Crystal clear? It wasn’t so for James Blancarte, a lawyer who found himself on the wrong side of a recent ruling by the California Labor Commission for negotiating for sports broadcaster Mario Solis (right) over an anchor position with the NBC affiliate in Los Angeles. Blancarte had a contract with Solis stipulating a five percent commission of earnings. But the Labor Commission found the contract invalid under the Talent Agencies Act. While Blancarte is a licensed attorney, the Labor Commission found in this instance he acted as a talent agent, procuring employment for client: “By negotiating the KNBC agreements on petitioner’s behalf, respondent attempted to procure and procured employment for petitioner. As a consequence, respondent engaged in and carried out the occupation of a talent agency.”...

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In NY, comic fans’ curses for social media stunt

There’s no doubt that events like Comic Con and Comikaze build fans’ frenzy for superheroes, the supernatural and all manner of matters fantasy. These conventions, for Hollywood, also have proven fantastic venues to hype  and promote big-money producing comic-themed movies and TV shows, providing Tinseltown marketers and producers a choice opportunity to connect with die-hard comic fans and other influential consumers. Which is why some alarms must have sounded here on the West Coast  over the possibility that overzealous East Coast event sponsors might spook this special and specialized audience of convention-goers, as occurred at New York Comic Con...

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Caveats on new law shielding celebrity kids?

After wrangling among celebrities, news organizations and even the movie industry itself, the Golden State has decided to give stars an even greater private space, in this case new protections from Hollywood photographers, nee the paparazzi, who try to take pictures of famous kids — a measure that Gordon Firemark, an attorney and Southwestern Law School adjunct professor, recently has turned his spotlight on As he points out, state Senator State Sen. Kevin de Leon, the Democrat from the 22nd District, got the legislature to amend California Penal Code § 11414, making it a crime for paparazzi to photograph children of celebrities in certain circumstances. The new law takes effect in January and carries steep penalties: First offenders could be charged up to  $10,000 and face jail time. A second offense comes with a five-day jail sentence and up to a $20,000 fine. That third strike nets offenders 30-days in jail and a $30,000  fine. Parents also can file a civil suits seeking punitive damages. Firemark questions whether this measure is constitutional, how and whether it will be enforced and if news and entertainment organizations need to issue guidelines to their photographers to stay on the right side of this pending law. The de Leon amendment already has attracted its share of attention from celebrities (actresses Halle Berry, Jennifer Garner — as shown in the Rich Pedroncelli,  Associated Press, photo...

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Mayweather KOs musical infringement claim

Boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather might not knock everyone’s socks off with his novel business practices (keeping $123 million in a cash bank account?) or his curious posse members (Justin Bieber?), but he packs some serious pugilistic talent — and now he’s scored a legal KO at the appellate level over a musical contender who challenged him over copyright issues for music used when he entered the ring and at some big-time wrestling events. Let’s go to a speed round to see how only the champ could bring together copyright, rap, and boxing into one ring or shall we say courtroom. Until a recent falling-out,  Mayweather had rapper 50 cent as part of his entourage. And in 2008, when Mayweather fought and beat the “Big Show” it was no different. It was expected he would enter the ring, 50 cent with him, marching in proudly to one of the rapper’s creations. Plans changed. Mayweather entered to the song Yep, whose beat was produced by Anthony Lawrence Dash.  Mayweather also used the song at World Wrestling Entertainment shows, Wrestlemania XXIV and Raw Guest Host. As Courthouse News’ entertainment law site reports — and thanks to them for posting case documents online — Dash claimed that neither Mayweather nor the WWE had rights to his song and infringed on his copyright. Dash sued in April, 2010, in a federal court in South Carolina,...

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Comcast pulling plug on copyright offenders

The crackdown on intellectual property pirates continues: Comcast, one of the United States’ largest Internet providers, recently has acted in the ongoing battle against those who repeatedly infringe on others’ copyrights, with TorrentFreak,  according to a tip it has received, reporting that the giant service provider is terminating accounts, and, in some instances, without a court order. Comcast confirmed to the online tech site that it will terminate users’ accounts after “repeated and egregious copyright infringement.” Comcast further asserts that, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a court order is not required to terminate accounts of those who repeatedly infringe others’ copyrights — for example by up- and down-loading music, videos and other pirated versions of films, podcasts, recordings and similar protected materials. There is some dispute as to whether Comcast can circumvent due process by terminating accounts without a court order. ISPs like Verizon and other service providers like YouTube have adopted policies similar to Comcast’s. AT&T, on the other hand, declared that it would never do such a thing without first acquiring a court order. The DMCA,  legislation that covers copyright protection, demands that ISPs “adopt and reasonably implement a policy that provides for the termination in appropriate circumstances of subscribers and account holders of the service provider’s system or network who are repeat infringers.” ISPs receiving DMCA notices are required to give them to the customer/copyright...

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