November 2006
Volume 28 Number 6


International Developments


The UK House of Lords has ruled in favor of the Wall Street Journal Europe in a libel lawsuit filed by a Saudi company whose bank account, the Journal reported, was being monitored by the Saudi government to prevent the account from being used to aid terrorists; though the article was inaccurate, the Journal was protected from liability by a qualified privilege to publish articles in the public interest, the Lords unanimously held.

Jameel v. Wall Street Journal Europe
[2006] UKHL 44
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/
pa/ld200506/ldjudgmt/jd061011/jamee.pdf
 


WIPO has ordered the transfer of the domain “jkrowling.ir” to “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling.  

Joanne Rowling v. Hostine.net
WIPO Case No. DIR2006-0004
http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/
decisions/html/2006/dir2006-0004.html


WIPO has ordered the transfer of the domains “columbiapicture.net” and “columbiapictures.org” to Columbia Pictures.  

Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.
v. North West Enterprise, Inc.
WIPO Case No. D2006-0951
http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/
decisions/html/2006/d2006-0951.html


WIPO has ordered the transfer of the domain “davidnalbandian.com” to Argentinian professional tennis player David Nalbandian.  

David Pablo Nalbandian v. Yuri Babayan
WIPO Case No. D2006-0963
http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/
decisions/html/2006/d2006-0963.html


Washington Monitor


The FCC has found that Cher’s use of “fuck” and Nicole Richie's use of “fucking” in statements they made during Fox broadcasts of the 2002 and 2003 “Billboard Music Awards” were indecent and profane; but it also found that a guest’s use of “bullshitter” during a news segment of CBS’s “The Early Show” was not.  

In the Matter of Complaints
Regarding Various Television Broadcasts

FCC 06-166 (Nov. 2006)
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/
attachmatch/FCC-06-166A1.pdf


Recent Cases


StreamCast is liable for secondary copyright infringement because it intended to induce its users to infringe copyrights, a federal District Court has ruled following remand from the Supreme Court’s Grokster decision; the District Court based its decision on evidence that showed that StreamCast’s P2P software was used “overwhelmingly” for infringement, it actively sought former Napster users, it gave technical assistance that helped users play infringing files, its software included a “Top 40” search feature, its business model depended on infringing uses, and it did not attempt to prevent infringements.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inx. v. Grokster, Ltd.
2006 WL 2806882

2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73714

(C.D.Cal. 2006)


HBO’s hit series “Six Feet Under” does not infringe the copyright to a screenplay titled “The Funk Parlor,” because they are not substantially similar, even though both are set in a funeral home.

Funky Films, Inc. v. Time Warner Entertainment
462 F.3d 1072

2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 22231

(9th Cir. 2006 )


Evidence offered by the plaintiffs in a copyright infringement trial was properly excluded, an appeals court has ruled, in an opinion that upholds the jury’s verdict that the television series “City of Angels” did not infringe the copyrights to screenplays about an inner-city hospital with a mostly-black staff.

Metcalf v. Bochco
2006 WL 2472193

2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 22244

(9th Cir. 2006)


Sander/Moses Productions is not entitled to contingent compensation for executive producing the NBC television series “The Profiler.”

Sander/Moses Productions, Inc. v. NBC Studios, Inc.
142 Cal.App.4th 1086

2006 Cal. App. LEXIS 1366

(Cal.App. 2006)


“Sex and the City” author Candace Bushnell will have to defend herself against allegations that she owes “management” fees to her former friend Clifford Streit, and that she copied material in her novel “Four Blondes” from a movie script he wrote; though Bushnell claims Streit’s allegations are “frivolous,” a federal District court has ruled that disputed facts prevent him from granting her motion for summary judgment.

Streit v. Bushnell
424 F.Supp.2d 633

2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12823

(S.D.N.Y. 2006)


The First Amendment rights of Brentwood Academy were violated by a Tennessee high school athletic association “recruiting rule” rule that punished the school for sending letters to incoming students about spring football practice, a federal appeals court has ruled.

Brentwood Academy v.
Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association

442 F.3d 410

2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 6605

(6th Cir. 2006)


The Cleveland Browns and NFL were the first users of the “Dawg Pound” trademark, and thus they are the mark’s owners rather than clothing manufacturer Hawaii-Pacific, a federal District Court has ruled; the court rejected the clothing company’s argument that the Browns and NFL had abandoned the mark when the team moved to Baltimore and became the “Ravens.”

Hawaii-Pacific Apparel Group, Inc. v.
Cleveland  Browns Football Company LLC

418 F.Supp.2d 501

2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7403

(S.D.N.Y. 2006)


Major League Baseball does not violate federal or state antitrust laws by licensing trademarks on behalf of its teams, a federal District Court has ruled (in a recently-published opinion) in an infringement lawsuit filed against an unlicensed maker of plush toys bearing team logos.

Major League Baseball Properties v. Salvino, Inc.
420 F.Supp.2d 212

2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28881

(S.D.N.Y. 2005)


Rod Stewart must refund, with interest, a $2 million advance he was paid by the Rio hotel in Las Vegas for a concert he never performed due to illness; a force majeure clause did not apply, because a jury found that Stewart and the Rio did not agree on the material terms of the clause.

Rio Properties, Inc. v. Stewart Annoyances, Ltd.
420 F.Supp.2d 1127

2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14647

(D.Nev. 2006)


CBS, Fox, NBC and ABC are entitled to a nationwide permanent injunction in their copyright infringement suit against EchoStar, because the company’s DISH Network committed “willful and repeated” violations of the Satellite Home Viewer Act by selling distant network programming to ineligible subscribers, a federal appeals court has held.

CBS Broadcasting v. EchoStar Communications Corp.
450 F.3d 505

2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 15068

(11th Cir. 2006)


Karaoke machines that display lyrics while it plays songs are not entitled to compulsory mechanical licenses, nor are they exempt from licensing requirements by the fair use doctrine, a federal District Court has held (in a recently-published opinion).

Leadsinger, Inc. v. BMG Music Publishing
429 F.Supp.2d 1190

2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41838
(C.D.Cal. 2005)


A general release form signed by a nightclub dancer when Paramount Pictures made the movie “Flashdance” barred the claims she later asserted in response to Jennifer Lopez’s “Flashdance”-based music video “I’m Glad,” even though the dancer was paid only $2300 for the release, a federal appeals court has affirmed.

Marder v. Lopez
450 F.3d 445

2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 14330

(9th Cir. 2006)


Paramount Pictures will have to defend itself against a Houston television station’s allegation that Paramount violated federal antitrust law by illegally tying broadcast licenses for “Judge Judy” and “Judge Joe Brown” to a license for “Becker,” a federal District Court has ruled; the court also awarded Paramount summary judgment for $1 million on its breach of contract claim for unpaid licensing fees.

Paramount Pictures Corp. v.
Johnson Broadcasting Inc.

432 F.Supp.2d 707

2006 WL 1663361

2006 WL 1406870

2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32039

2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31433

2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9900

(S.D.Tex. 2006)


John Steinbeck’s son and granddaughter effectively terminated the author’s pre-1978 grants of publication rights, and thereby recaptured those rights for themselves, despite a post-1978 agreement entered into by the author’s widow permitting the continued publication of his novels and stories, a federal District Court has ruled; the court noted that the widow’s agreement with the publisher specifically acknowledged termination rights, but also ruled that if the agreement had stripped the son and granddaughter of their termination rights, it would have been void.

Steinbeck v. McIntosh & Otis, Inc.
433 F.Supp.2d 395

2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38346

(S.D.N.Y. 2006)

 


The unauthorized use of a Los Angeles strip club's trademark and trade dress in the video game “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” was not infringing because it was protected by the First Amendment, a federal District Court has held.  

E.S.S. Entertainment 2000, Inc.
v. Rock Star Videos, Inc.
444 F.Supp.2d 1012
2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57575
(C.D. Cal. 2006)


Michigan, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Minnesota statutes barring sale of violent video games to minors are declared (or found likely to be) unconstitutional .

Entertainment Software Ass’n v. Granholm
426 F.Supp.2d 646
2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24733
(E.D.Mich. 2006)

Entertainment Software Ass'n v. Foti
2006 WL 2572101
2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67290
(M.D.La. 2006)

Entertainment Merchants Ass’n v. Henry
2006 WL 2927884

2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74186

(W.D.Okla. 2006)
 

Entertainment Software Ass'n v. Hatch
443 F.Supp.2d 1065
2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52636
(D.Minn. 2006)


Disney has defeated a claim that its EPCOT park infringes the copyright to a painting for an international theme park; an appeals court has affirmed a summary judgment dismissing the case, because there was no admissible evidence that Disney had access to the painting, and expert opinions (offered by the plaintiff) that EPCOT and the painting are “strikingly similar” were properly excluded, because the experts based their opinions on the painting’s ideas and concepts rather than its protectable expression.  

Corwin v. Walt Disney Co.
2006 WL 3091464
2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 27148
http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/
opinions/ops/200416554.pdf

(11th Cir. 2006)  


Departments

 


Entertainment Lawyer News:

George A. Cooke has joined Manatt Phelps & Phillips as a partner in the firm’s New York City office, and Mark D. Litvack has joined the firm as a partner in its Los Angeles office.

Manatt News & Events
http://www.manatt.com/
newsevents.aspx?id=4002&folder=22

http://www.manatt.com/
newsevents.aspx?id=4018&folder=22

Pierre Vudrag has been appointed Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs of The Tennis Channel, based in Los Angeles.

The Tennis Channel Newsletter
http://www.thetennischannel.com/aboutus/
pressrelease/pressreleasedetail.aspx?id=115


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