Month: February 2015

Is Dish v. Fox a hop away from slinging to end?

You can’t always get what you want — that’s a lesson to be re-learned from long-running litigation between Fox Broadcasting and Dish Network. The case, involving technologies including “the Hopper” and Sling, has been contested for almost three years but finally appears to be be nearing an end. While a key recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee has been released, neither Fox nor Dish can claim victory. (Kudos to the Hollywood Reporter Esq. for  posting the decision). The parties just may be headed for a settlement over technologies that let consumers choose to “hop” over (skip) content they don’t want to see — such as commercials, key to broadcaster revenues — and to sling (send) programming to devices and at locations of their choice. What Dish won  Gee has found that Dish does not engage in the “volitional conduct” necessary to constitute direct infringement. She ruled it is the user who “initiates the process, selects the content and receives the transmission.” It, thus, would be users who may be liable, under direct infringement. Because individual Dish subscribers transmit programming rightfully in their possession to authorized devices, and because the program does not travel to a large number of unknown people, the transmission does not constitute a public performance, and, thus, cannot constitute secondary infringement, the judge ruled, tossing another Fox claim. Where Fox prevailed Dish didn’t triumph on all...

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For holy Moses, Left Shark, legal spats in 3-D

What in the world but legal claims could unite a left shark and Moses? How about 3-D printing controversies for both? As technology advances relentlessly — perhaps at the pace once described by Albert Einstein where “it has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity”–counsel are intervening left and right to assert protections on creative items, whether these exist in copyright law or maybe not. That these cases keep cropping up at all, however, testifies to the growing ubiquity of 3-D copying and to its importance as a wary, new intellectual property front for Entertainment Law practitioners and their creative clients . Sculpting a claim Let’s look first to see whether a replica statue of a biblical titan can be sheltered from copying. A few weeks ago, Michael Weinberg blogged about a local photographer and his enthusiastic efforts to hone his 3-D scanning skills on a well-done copy of Michelangelo’s “Moses,” owned by Augustana College. The Sioux Falls, S.D., school had a fit, asserting violations of copyright law and claiming that the scans could lead to 3-D printing of its reproduced work. The photographer pulled his scans down from the Internet after legal threats from Augustana. The school stuck, steadfast, to its vague position that its permission was required for the 3-D scan, which Weinberg — invited in to the online controversy by an onlooking artist who...

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Are gamers’ tiffs just the edge of a net specter?

Who owns the technology that now is intrinsic to our daily lives? Chances are, it is not you. While users may own the physical devices, the technology that drives them, the intellectual property that they rely on, and their operating systems — surprise — likely are owned and controlled by their creators, not their buyers-users. That has really raised the hackles of video gamers of late. And while aspects of their immediate battles with manufacturers might fall within the portfolios of those specializing in Entertainment Law, technology’s advance and the rise of the rampantly web-interconnected world — the Internet of Things — may be blurring and broadening the legal issues involved.    Dying Light take-down Gamers may buy and own a cartridge or hold a specific license to access an entertainment but they do not capture ownership of critical underlying intellectual property. This has gotten to be a gnarly issue because frequent modifications or mods of key codes to play the games are becoming the norm. Who owns the mods? If gamers engage in do it yourself or DIY mods, do they infringe on makers’ copyrights? The issue broke out online recently when fans of the Dying Light game received Digital Millennium Copyright Act take-down notices for mod files they had shared via the Internet. Those disputed files had created no piracy concerns; they just modified game visuals. The...

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LA launches crackdown on talent ‘scams’

While California’s regulation of talent management has proved controversial for professionals in the Entertainment Industry, Entertainment Law attorneys included, there are reminders that show why aspiring dancers, singers, and actors need legal protection. In the latest instance, City Attorney Michael Feuer has formally charged a talent agent with illegally seeking $100,000 in up-front fees in a hair salon from a teenage singer and her sister. He has been joined by Hollywood’s actors’ union and a group advocating for child actors in launching a Public Awareness Campaign as part of a plan to crackdown on Hollywood talent scams.   Paul Krekorian, now Los Angeles City Councilman for District 2, wrote and pushed through the state legislature the Talent Scam Prevention Act of 2009. The purpose of the act is to protect aspiring performers and their families from scams in which they are asked to pay talent agents without reason. The Krekorian Act prohibits talent agents and talent managers from charging advance fees for representation. His act also aims to ensure every contract with an artist provides notice for cancellation, with a refund procedure. Among the supporters of the act (AB1319) are the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the BizParentz Foundation, an advocacy group that works on behalf of youthful performers. Both had representatives at Feur’s recent news conference. There, and in a news release, Feur stated that the act had been violated by Debra Baum,...

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What might Zoe’s dispute tell about YouTube?

YouTube once was an easy, fun spot where ordinary Janes and Joes could find fifteen minutes of fame with materials that were patently good and bad to even the least discerning eyes. The Google-owned, online service also was a place for folks young and old to do some comedic spouting and to offer how-tos, such as a step-by-step tutorial on knotting a tie. It since has become a major platform for musicians, both for the aspiring to share stuff in hopes of hitting it big and for fans to keep up with hot music videos by those who have. But as the Tube has grown or grown up as a significant content channel, so too have its complications. And as creatives, like avant-garde cellist and netizen Zoe Keating have complained, YouTube may now be a worrisome legal thicket, with contracts, clauses, warnings, complexities, and uncertainties. Attention, Entertainment Law attorneys? Keating’s YouTube channel, for now, plays on. That’s  unexpected based on her viral beefs with YouTube’s new “terms” for musicians posting on its site. The Guardian neatly summarizes the parties’ positions — and what seems to be a big issue here: communication. Counselors, let’s look in on this notable online dispute for what it may say about new areas of opportunity:   Confusing contract terms As the British news outlet makes clear, Keating has expressed her displeasure with YouTube’s announced...

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