Articles Posted in Other Media


Former UCLA men’s basketball player, Reeves Nelson, has filed a lawsuit for defamation against Sports Illustrated resulting from SI’s March 2012 article entitled, Special Report: Not The UCLA Way. The scathing article, written by Pulitzer Prize winning author George Dohrmann (more on him later), portrayed the UCLA men’s basketball team as dysfunctional and out of control, placing much of the blame on Nelson’s conduct. The revelations added salt to the open wound of a UCLA hoops season that saw the Bruins finish in the middle of a weak Pacific 12 conference and miss the NCAA tournament for the second time in three seasons.

Those who know me know that I am a rabid UCLA sports fan, particularly as to the UCLA men’s basketball team. I have had season tickets for over 20 years, follow the team in road games around the country and am a donor to UCLA Athletics. I am in all sense of the word a UCLA basketball “booster.”

During the 2011-12 season, UCLA men’s basketball fell far short of expectations — suffering embarrassing losses to “lesser” basketball programs, losing by double digits to top teams and failing to earn a postseason bid which most of us consider to be UCLA’s birthright. Plus, UCLA fans had to endure the indignity of having to attend most “home” games at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, an arena which cross-town rival USC abandoned years ago, while the Bruins’ home arena, Pauley Pavilion, underwent major renovations. Beaten on the court and essentially homeless, the UCLA basketball team then had to face SI’s blistering and embarrassing accusations just days before one of the worst seasons in UCLA basketball history was about to end.

Unlike most subjects on this blog, the SI “expose” and Nelson’s alleged conduct within the team detailed in that article was (and is) intensely personal. Nevertheless, as an attorney with substantial experience in defending the media as well as representing plaintiffs in defamation claims, I could not pass on the opportunity to comment on Nelson’s defamation lawsuit. After the jump, you can read Nelson’s complaint, and evidence he submits at the outset of his lawsuit, as well as my views on his claims.
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Roger Clemens must feel like he’s under siege these days. Once certain that he’d be elected to the baseball hall of fame, Clemens is now on trial for the second time on perjury charges for lying about his supposed use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). (Clemens’ first trial ended in a mistrial when prosecutors showed a video that had previously been ruled inadmissible.)

I previously wrote about Clemens and his predicament well before his indictment and first criminal trial. My first post was about how much a celebrity’s reputation is worth and whether suing for defamation is an appropriate strategy to defend that reputation. I updated that first post about the crucial decisions on how to defend celebrities and their reputations when the judge dismissed most of Clemens’ claims in his civil lawsuit for defamation against his former trainer.

Since then, Clemens was indicted and now is undergoing his second trial on federal perjury charges for allegedly lying to Congress in his testimony about the use of PEDs in baseball. After the jump, I’ll discuss how a celebrity’s reputation, and perhaps his freedom, depends on the quality and strength of the advice he receives from his representatives and friends.
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HOP-HOP LABEL FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST GROUP DAY BEFORE MCA LOSES FIGHT WITH CANCERAdam “MCA” Rauch co-founded the “Beastie Boys” hip hop group with Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Adrock” Horovitz. Together the trio enjoyed tremendous success, selling over 40 million records, having our #1 albums and being inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year. MCA was too ill with cancer to attend that induction ceremony. On May 4, 2012, MCA lost his battle and died at his New York home.

In timing that can charitably be called “unfortunate,” hip hop label Tuff City Music Group (TufAmerica) filed suit against MCA and the other Beastie Boys, and their various record labels, the day before MCA died. Filed in federal court in New York City, the lawsuit claims that the Beastie Boys illegally “sampled” passages from two songs from the group “Trouble Funk” and incorporated them into four Beastie Boys songs, including songs on the Beastie Boys’ 1986 debut album, “Licensed to Ill” (the album cover is depicted on the right).

After the jump, I’ll summarize what I suspect will be key issues in the case and discuss the controversy concerning the timing of the suit.
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DC 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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COMMUNICATION IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA AGEBy now, you’ve seen the image. In June 2011, the Vancouver Canucks lost game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals to the Boston Bruins in Vancouver. Chaos ensued, and Vancouver burned. Sports fans rioting in disappointment over losing a championship (or in celebration of winning one) is hardly unusual. However, as the people of Vancouver rioted in the streets, a picture captured a couple in a private, intimate moment against a backdrop of smoke and police in riot gear. The photographer and the media reporting on the Vancouver riot did not know their names. They were simply the kissing couple.

Not surprisingly, the stark contrast between the violence in the background and the kissing couple lying on the street was a sensation — the picture went “viral” — disseminated worldwide on social networks as well as traditional media. With that kind of coverage, there was no chance that the anonymous couple would stay anonymous for long.

After the jump, I’ll discuss the implications of the instantaneous spread of information and social media — particularly on anonymity and expectations of privacy.
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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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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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Since the election of Barack Obama, there appears to be a rash of lawsuits filed by rock and roll stars against Republican candidates for office. I previously wrote about Jackson Browne’s federal case against the Republican National Committee and Senator John McCain over the use of Browne’s song “Running On Empty” in an Ohio internet campaign spot. That case reportedly has apparently settled on confidential terms, resulting in an apology from the McCain camp.

In April, Eagles star, Don Henley, and Mike Campbell, guitarist for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers followed suit — literally. Henley and Campbell filed two lawsuits against Republican California State Assemblyman, Charles DeVore who is running for the Senate seat currently held by Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer. The lawsuits arise from DeVore’s use of of the music in the songs “Boys of Summer” (which Henley and Campbell co-wrote) and Henley’s “All She Wants To Do Is Dance” in political spots where DeVore replaced the original lyrics with his own politically motivated lyrics.

While many are surprised that the RNC, McCain and the Ohio Republican Party settled so quickly, the issues in the Henley/Campbell suit seems less likely to favor the rockers.
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Technology and the explosion of social networking sites are changing the paradigm of how and when we communicate with each other. Facebook, YouTube and the most recent craze, Twitter, together with rapidly improving camera/video cellular phone technology, allow instant communication to thousands of people. Communication that includes pictures and video, as well as text.

The potential uses for these expanding media are seemingly endless. The question is — is that a good thing?
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Jackson Browne’s 1977 iconic song “Running on Empty” is the focal point of a federal court lawsuit which highlights the tension between the First Amendment’s strong protection for political speech and the rights of an artist to control his work. Browne sued the Republican National Committee (RNC), Senator John McCain and the Ohio Republican Party (ORP) because the ORP used “Running on Empty” in a web ad during the 2008 presidential campaign without Browne’s permission. Browne, a well known activist who favors liberal causes and candidates, sued.
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