Month: November 2016

Hollywood tamps down a tobacco challenge

A federal judge in San Francisco has snuffed out a California dad’s attempt to force Hollywood to give R ratings to protect children from seeing movies that depict what he says is the deadly habit of smoking. But the health challenge, quashed for now as a First Amendment protection for the film industry, still smolders. An R rating for movies with smoking? Timothy Forsyth, a father of two youngsters, ages 12 and 13, went to court carrying a message for product-placement conscious filmmakers: Smokers don’t grow old, they die young. But his lawsuit over ratings for movies showing smoking...

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Judge dissects, discards a ‘Machete’ claim

Danny Trejo, a Los Angeles native with a troubled past, has transformed himself into a Hollywood franchise by portraying some mean hombres all too willing to dispense rough vigilantism. But a Utah federal judge, weighing in on a copyright infringement claim vaguely tied to Trejo’s first starring role, has shown how tough the real law can be on unsupported claims. U.S. District Judge David Nuffer took a legal machete and whacked apart a lawsuit filed by filmmaker Gil Medina, claiming Univision and its El Rey Network  infringed on his 2006 indie movie Vengeance, which he wrote and filmed. It also was the first movie in which Trejeo starred as the lead. Medina claimed that the broadcasters’ 2010 televising of Machete, a different movie also starring Trejo, infringed on his Vengeance copyright because the two works shared a similar plot and had the same star. No es cierto, the judge ruled. Was there access? Access to a work is critical to establish an infringement claim, and Medina’s suit relied on his assertion that this occurred when he said he provided a rough cut of  his Vengeance to film producer Robert Rodriguez in 2005. Rodriguez, who was not a defendant in Medina’s suit, examined the script and rough cut before telling the plaintiff he was uninterested in the work. In 2009, Rodriguez produced Machete. Those facts were insufficient to support Medina’s...

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Ollivierra, Lind named Institute co-directors

Southwestern Law School has announced that faculty members Neil Ollivierra and Robert Lind will serve as the new co-directors of the nationally recognized Biederman Entertainment and Media Law Institute. Lind is a Southwestern icon, renowned entertainment law expert, prolific author of preeminent texts and treatises, and a mentor and champion of students and alums alike. Prior to his appointment at Southwestern,  Ollivierra served as in-house counsel to various motion picture and television studios at the highest level of business and legal affairs, including Lionsgate Entertainment (The Hunger Games, The Twilight franchise, Orange Is the New Black, Mad Men) and EuropaCorp (Lucy, Taken, The Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita). Together, their combined expertise, experience, passion and industry affiliations will help to ensure the continued success and growth of the Institute in the spirit of its beloved namesake, Donald E. Biederman. He was a highly admired teacher, scholar, and pioneer in the world of entertainment and media law and the Institute’s founding director. Neil Ollivierra Ollivierra, who is new to the full-time faculty, is also an accomplished software developer and musical and visual artist. He has designed complex databases for creative, legal, accounting and physical production executives at film and television studios, and with respect to his musical endeavors he has toured and recorded throughout North America, Europe and Japan. His paintings have been acquired by corporate entities and private collectors...

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Will studio win after a decade, 3 court rulings?

The solemn, esteemed appellate courts don’t get to tell parties to just buzz off, of course. But after a decade of litigation, will some movie memorabilia product-makers finally give up their campaign to tap images from some of Warner Brothers’ most iconic films and characters? The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in a second adverse decision, has affirmed lower court rulings against plaintiffs Art and Vintage Entertainment Licensing Agency (AVELA), Dave Grossman Creations, X One X Productions and Leo Valencia. Instead, the court has given the studio yet another legal victory. Specifically, the appellate judges said...

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Tech mogul stays on the hook for $750,000

He’s youthful, handsome, an entrepreneurial dynamo, and his personal wealth has been estimated at times at near a billion dollars. But even for a San Diego tech innovator like Michael Robertson (shown at right), a $750,000 copyright judgment against him personally has to sting, especially when it has been affirmed recently by an appellate court. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled against Robertson and his defunct online music storage firm MP3tunes, allowing plaintiffs to pursue further  infringement claims in a long-running lawsuit involving record companies and music publishers once part of EMI Group Ltd....

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