Articles Posted in Television

DC COMICS DEFEATS MOTION TO DISMISS COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT CLAIMS OVER BATMOBILE REPLICA CAR KITS

Original BatmobileDC Comics, publisher of the original Batman comic strip, filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer and seller of vehicle modification kits that allow a consumer to create his or her own “Batmobile.” The original Batmobile (pictured on the right) was an integral part of the 1960s television series based upon the DC comic books. “Gotham Garage” sold kits allowing consumers to build and own a replica of the iconic Batmobile. DC Comics sued, alleging that the replicas infringe upon their copyright to the Batmobile.

After the jump, I’ll discuss the motion to dismiss proceedings before the Honorable Ronald S.W. Lew in the Central District of California. I’ll also provide some insight into the business replica Batmobiles and the potential implications of Judge Lew’s ruling upon the auto industry and car design.
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TOP COURTROOM MOTION PICTURES

In the spirit of the many lists of “top” whatever in the entertainment industry, I decided to write about my favorite courtroom films. Before doing so, I decided to do “research” — so I purchased some movies that I had not seen before and some others that I had not seen in a while. It was gruesome research watching all these films. But someone had to do it.

After the jump, I’ll give you some thoughts on my favorites and my views on what real-life trial lawyers can learn from the fictional ones.
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WHEN DOES A LAWYER GET TO DITCH A CLIENT

Mel GibsonMel Gibson’s recent diatribes — lending credence to the widely held view that he’s a racist and abuser of women — provoke an old but interesting debate about lawyers’ duties to clients and when a lawyer can “fire” a client. Last week, Matthew Belloni of The Hollywood Reporter wrote a post on his THR, Esq blog about Gibson’s lawyer, Tom Hansen, staying “loyal” to Gibson — unlike Gibson’s agents who dumped him.

THR’s post was about deal lawyers. One lawyer, quoted (anonymously), says that he/she “couldn’t represent someone who I didn’t personally believe in” and that “a lawyer should be judged by who he chooses to get into business with — and who he stays in business with.” Interesting.

After the jump, why I disagree with this sentiment.
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ACTRESS CLAIMS BABY GIRLFRIEND COMMERCIAL IS ABOUT HER

Actress Lindsay Lohan is once again in the news. This time, however, it’s not because of what Lohan and her running buddies have done in some nightclub, or the latest in the ongoing feud between Lohan and her father. Instead, Lohan has made the news by filing a $100 million lawsuit against the online stock trading company, E*Trade, over their “milkaholic” baby girlfriend commercial.

Lohan’s break as an actress came in the 2004 motion picture “Mean Girls.” After that film, Lohan tried to expand her influence into the music arena, releasing a couple of albums to mixed reviews. Lohan graced the cover of Vanity Fair magazine (right) with a pictorial spread that evoked images of Marilyn Monroe. However, instead of becoming a “triple threat” — actress/model/singer — Lohan has become more widely known for being fodder for tabloids and paparazzi. With stories about her lesbian lover and their widely reported breakup, stints in rehab, car accidents, public feuds with her father and “overexposed” pictures of Lohan all over the ‘net, Lohan is now the symbol of young Hollywood and their unabashed desire to have a good time.

Now comes Lohan’s latest foray into the news: a $100 million dollar lawsuit against E*Trade for their latest “baby” commercial. After the jump, I’ll detail why Lohan’s lawsuit has the feel of a publicity stunt. And if you haven’t seen the commercial which debuted during the Super Bowl, you can view that after the jump as well.

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HOW VIEWERS ARE IMPACTED BY “TAPE DELAYED” COVERAGE OF 2010 VANCOUVER OLYMPICS

As a sports fan in California, “watching” the 2010 Olympics has been a frustrating experience. NBC has provided the west coast with little live coverage. So those of us who live in the “tape delayed” part of NBC’s coverage map have a choice: (a) cease using communication devices and social media to avoid learning of results; or (b) watching the television coverage in spite of knowing the result.

I received a message on Twitter from a reporter from the Los Angeles Times asking if I would speak on the record about the issue. Never one to turn down an opportunity to speak my mind, I agreed. The LA Times article appears here.

My thoughts on the implications of tape delayed coverage on viewers after the jump.
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SUPREME COURT MAY CONSIDER WHETHER FEDERAL APPEALS COURT RULING PERMITTING REMOTE DIGITAL VIDEO RECORDERS VIOLATES THE COPYRIGHT ACT

The manner in which we view television programs has changed. The advent of digital video recorders like Tivo means that viewers are regularly “copying” content. While copying for personal use has been upheld by the courts, new technologies allowing cable companies to provide digital video recorders from a remote, central location have given rise to a number of cases across the country.

In August 2008, the Second Circuit considered the issue of whether such a “remote digital recorder” violated content providers’ copyrights. That court reversed a ruling in the Southern District of New York and held that these remote DVRs did not infringe upon the providers’ rights. However, just last month, the United States Supreme Court requested the government to weigh in on the issue — requesting that the Solicitor General submit a brief to express the government’s view of the law.

Should content providers really be complaining about a DVR system which appears to be more secure against piracy? Stay tuned to see if your cable’s DVR will be upheld to be legal.
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TAKING A LESSON FROM BASEBALL’S STEROID SCANDALS

The task of protecting celebrities from public humiliation is difficult and complex. In a recent post, I discussed strategies to protect celebrities and, in particular, the need to be absolutely sure about the true facts before embarking upon aggressive response strategies. Recent revelations about the use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball illustrate the problems for celebrities facing scandalous allegations.

The way different players handle these difficult issues can provide lessons on how to deal with such accusations against any celeb.
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ANDY KENNEDY’S ARREST LEADS TO COMPETING CIVIL CLAIMS

The defamation lawsuit filed by University of Mississippi head basketball coach, Andy Kennedy, has taken some interesting twists. Kennedy was arrested on December 18, 2008 after allegedly punching a cab driver in the face and using ethnic slurs outside a Cincinnati nightclub. A valet attendant supported the cabbie’s claims in a police report. The next day, Kennedy filed a defamation lawsuit against both the driver and valet.

As I previously wrote, filing a “preemptive” defamation lawsuit can be a valid, aggressive response in order to false accusations. However, the Kennedy case illustrates the kind of unintended consequences that may result when a lawsuit is brought so quickly after an incident.
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PROTECTING CELEBRITIES FROM DEFAMATION AND INVASION OF PRIVACY

It’s been said that “a good reputation is more valuable than money.” When it comes to celebrities — and most recently sports figures — reputation is both valuable and easily tarnished. In this electronic age, damaging information can circulate instantly through cyberspace. Rumor quickly becomes generally accepted fact. Pictures can go “viral” and disseminated to millions at the speed of light. Once established, public perception becomes very difficult if not impossible to change.

So what can be done to protect a celeb’s privacy and reputation — and at what cost?
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ACTORS’ DEAL EXPIRES WITH NO PACT ON THE HORIZON

July 1 has come and gone with no deal in place which would prevent another crippling strike in Hollywood. The Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have reportedly reached an impasse in their negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the previous agreement, which expired at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday morning. While the two sides are scheduled to meet today, public statements by AMPTP representatives make clear that the studios are unwilling to consider any changes to their final proposal which they transmitted on Monday, June 30.

For its part, SAG has acknowledged that the studios’ final proposal is “generally consistent” with the agreements that the studios brokered with other guilds, including SAG’s sister union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The studios first reached agreement with the Directors Guild of America in January. That agreement helped facilitate a resolution with the Writers Guild of America after an extended writers strike which halted production virtually across the board. Recently, the studios reached agreement with AFTRA on a new agreement with that union. The voting results of the AFTRA membership should be known some time next week.

Apparently, those deals are not good enough for some at SAG.
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