Author: JeannyTsoi

Here’s how to ensure prop cash is legal

With product placement a ripe source now for revenue, entertainment lawyers increasingly are getting called on to to know where and when to obtain copyright and trademark licenses or releases for items appearing in movies and TV programs. With a tip of the cap to the always informative lawyer-blogger Lionel Sobel at the Entertainment Law Reporter, here are answers to how counsel should answer when quizzed about showing cash, money, currency, moolah or dough in some fashion on screen. Sobel, for example, points to a post by entertainment lawyer David Albert Pierce at the MovieMaker about filming money; a law permitting use of cash in motion pictures can be found in the U.S. Code under “ ‘Printing and Filming of United States and Foreign Obligations & Securities’ (18 USC 504).” Pierce said the use of “prop money” can create more complications than actual cash. Those who would film fake money “must fully comply with the requirement of ‘The Counterfeit Detection Act of 1992’ (31 CFR 411).’” This act proves rigorous, meaning that filming real money may be easier. But, Pierce notes, this can pose another problem: finding the needed sums. If the production happens to call for torching cash, complying with the law may be the only option since, he says, “burning actual currency is a crime set forth under 18 USC 333.” In Canada, Bob Tarantino addresses this topic at the Entertainment & Media Law Signal....

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A nuanced look at Hollywood unions’ role

Co-edited by Jeanny Tsoi and Leo Young While national attention has focused on governments’ attempts to dismantle organized labor’s role in public employment, Hollywood remains an unabashed union town with complicated, contentious relations between creative-intellectual workers and owners-management, entertainment attorney Jonathan Handel noted in his recent appearaance in the Biederman Institute’s “A Conversation With…” speaker series at Southwestern Law School. Asked what makes unions in the entertainment industry different than their counterparts in other sectors, Handel — the author of a recent book on the topic —  explained Hollywood’s organized labor remains strong and powerful because of the concentration...

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Does stadium ruling throw theaters a curve, too?

Entertainment lawyers get thrown plenty of diverse matters to deal with but might their practice also include handling concerns about the Americans with Disabilities Act? Don’t bet against it, as a recent case in a U.S. District Court reminds. In Feldman v. Pro Football, the a U.S. appellate court in Virginia affirmed a ruling by a U.S. District Court in Maryland holding that the FedEx Stadium must provide deaf and hearing-impaired audiences “with the auxiliary aids and services necessary to benefit from the content broadcast over the stadium’s public address [(PA)] system during Washington Redskins home games.”  The appellate judges, basing their ruling on Title III of the ADA, “left open to the defendants the choice of which auxiliary aids it would make available.” FedEx Field chose “to provide emailed lyric sheets for songs played over the PA system at Redskin games upon request. Other information is provided via captioning in the stadium.” Although this case did not directly address them, the ruling could affect theaters, covered under the disabilities act as a “public accommodation,” and the appellate court suggests that “captioning (or some other form of auxiliary aid) is now a requirement, in addition to assistive listening devices for deaf and hearing-impaired” audiences. The option chosen by the Skins’ stadium is impractical for theaters, blogs attorney Gordon P. Firemark, saying “the option of providing a script or libretto to deaf theatre-goers...

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Europe ponders browser blocks on pirates

While U.S. officials have been seizing domain names to battle online piracy, other countries have come up with other ideas, such as blocking sites through a website’s domain name system, a notion that has gained some impetus with hints in Europe  that “malware filtering in web browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome would do the dirty work,” the tech news blog Torrent Freak reports. It says that British and Danish officials, pondering the browser-blocking approach, have found it, too, has considerable obstacles, including who would have the authority to blacklist what sites. But this method would have its advantages, too, over the U.S. approach in seizing domain names and taking extensive legal actions against sites such as Napster, BitTorrent and LimeWire, all of which were accused of copyright infringement. Problems with the American way, especially in dealing with off-shore players include, as TorrentFreak has pointed out in numerous postings: U.S. legal actions can be time consuming and controversial; violators skip to new domains when U.S. authorities seize one; and foreign authorities may not see some operators as pirates under their laws. But John Morton, the head of ICE, one of the U.S. agencies involved in the domain seizures, recently has reaffirmed the American commitment to this approach, testifying recently that it will continue — perhaps for years. He also defended the legality of the approach, seeking to answer critics’...

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Cyber critics rip U.S. domain-name crackdown

U.S. officials in recent months have seized many file-sharing domain names in an attempt to fight against piracy. In particular, a series of seizures by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has “made headlines across the Internet,” bloggers say. But these federal actions also have resulted in heavy critique from journalists, legal experts, senators and most prominently, the public. Among the many arguments, legal experts developed five arguments why these actions are unconstitutional: 1. They violate the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment because the government seizes the domains without prior notice and hearing. 2. The seizures of protected speech without a hearing violates the First Amendment. 3. There is no concern that the accused will flee with their domains. 4. There is an unacceptable risk of wrongful seizure. 5. The targeted sites are not given an immediate opportunity to reclaim their domain. On the other hand, the government says this is an effective tactic to combat Internet piracy. Authorities note that they have not shut down only file-sharing and streaming sites but also sites that sell counterfeit goods. After staying silent about the U.S. actions for two months, the Motion Picture Association of America has applauded authorities for their success in raising public awareness about piracy and in stopping sites from engaging in illegal activity. But the TorrentFreak site argues that results show the government...

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