Blog – Pay or Play

Authored by the attorneys in the firm’s Entertainment Department, this blog provides a legal perspective on the latest issues and trends affecting the entertainment industry, including digital content, multichannel networks, celebrity branding and artist and performer management as well as commentary on music law and media distribution law.

Recent Blog Posts

  • Work for Hire? In California, Maybe Not. My partner Nancy Yaffe has just posted a blog with disturbing implications for California entertainment lawyers. As young practitioners we  all were taught that every agreement with a person providing services on a film or TV show must include a provision that the results and proceeds of the person’s services are a “work made for hire” under copyright law.  This language is as important for entertainment lawyers as the Prime Directive is for Capt. Kirk on Star Trek. It now appears that... More
  • FCC Briefing: Two Things to Watch Here in the Hollywood bubble, it’s easy to get wrapped up in our own tales of heartbreak, victory and scandal and forget that events outside of LA can also impact the entertainment business. One of these is that the FCC is now Republican-controlled. The new FCC chair Ajit Pai has already signaled that we can expect significant policy shifts. Here are two to watch. Copyright: scanrail / 123RF Stock Photo Net Neutrality: This blog has been following the net neutrality saga, most recently... More
  • San Diego Smackdown, Chapter 2: Gag Order Overturned on Appeal 10066940 – super hero and a ninja doing battle. I’ve blogged here and here about the pending trademark infringement case brought by SDCC, the registered owners of the San Diego Comic-Con mark, against the producers of Salt Lake Comic Con. The Utah group had launched an aggressive social media campaign to draw moral and financial support from fans and organizers of other Comic Cons around the country. The plaintiff persuaded the trial judge, Anthony Battaglia, to issue a gag order to halt... More
  • Follow Up: Guilty Pleas in Casting Workshop Prosecutions We blogged recently about criminal proceedings brought by the LA City Attorney against numerous defendants accused of operating pay-for-play casting workshops in which actors allegedly paid for the opportunity to audition in front of casting directors. These cases are working thei Copyright: ratru / 123RF Stock Photo r way through the justice system, as some defendants pled guilty. Two more casting directors have taken guilty pleas, while some twenty-five are still awaiting trial. Read more about it in the Deadline Hollywood story here.... More
  • San Diego Smackdown: Comic Con Trademark Fight Goes First Amendment The stakes just raised in an imminent trial over the validity of the San Diego Comic-Con trademark. What started out as a straightforward trademark dispute has now implicated First Amendment free speech issues. 10066940 – super hero and a ninja doing battle. The underlying case involves an action by SDCC, which owns a trademark registration for San Diego Comic-Con, against Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg, organizers of a Utah convention named Salt Lake Comic Con. Among Farr’s and Brandenburg’s defenses is that “Comic Con”... More
  • Is Comic-Con the Victim of Genericide? 10066940 – super hero and a ninja doing battle. A federal judge in San Diego has cleared for trial a case that may strip San Diego Comic-Con from trademark protection. First, some background. Even a registered trademark such as Comic-Con can lose protection if it becomes generic, that is, if consumers regard it as designating a class of good or services rather than a branded product or service from a particular source. History has many examples of former trademarks, such as “aspirin,” “escalator”... More
  • Drug Cartel Heirs Have Netflix in Their Crosshairs Drug cartels are notorious for murder and extortion, but the family of the late drug lord Pablo Escobar has unleashed the scariest weapon of all–trademark litigation. Escobar, Inc. has a longstanding grudge against the Netflix series Narcos, which dramatizes the late drug lord’s life. In a creative and brazen move, Escobar filed trademark registrations for the marks NARCOS and CARTEL WARS, and has threatened the producers, Narco Productions, LLC (“NPL”) with litigation if they won’t play ball. Escobar’s brother, Roberto De Jesus Escobar Gaviria,... More
  • Three Takeaways from the Disney/Netflix Split The media community has been buzzing with the news that Disney plans to launch its own digital subscription channel for movies and series content. Its current license deal with Netflix expires at the end of 2018, after which new Disney and Pixar titles will move to the new channel. Disney will also be launching a standalone ESPN channel. This is a big move in itself, but also foreshadows changes to come in the rapid evolution of the media landscape. Here... More
  • Discovery a Defendant in Facebook Flame War Copyright: <a href=’′>pasta77 / 123RF Stock Photo</a> An ugly dispute between two reality stars has the potential to create precedent on the responsibility of television networks for posts by its talent on social media sites. The protagonists are Mykel Hawke and Joseph Teti, both veterans of Special Forces. The seeds were sown when Teti, who was Hawke’s former employee, was given a show by Discovery Network called Dual Survival. Hawke already had a similar show on Discovery, entitled Man, Woman, Wild. Things only got worse after... More
  • First Plea Deal Reached in LA Casting Workshop Prosecutions Copyright: ratru / 123RF Stock Photo We reported previously that LA City Attorney Mike Feuer had brought misdemeanor criminal charges against five casting workshops and 25 individuals under the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act. Feuer alleged that the workshops–purportedly for training actors in audition techniques–were actually pay-to-play schemes in which aspiring thespians would pay for the opportunity to be seen by casting directors. On June 5, one of the accused, Bradley Sachs, pleaded no contest to the charges. He was placed on 36... More