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

  • City Files Criminal Charges Against Casting Workshops   Copyright: ratru / 123RF Stock Photo Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer filed criminal charges last month against five casting workshops, their owners and employees, alleging violations of the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act. Under the Act, it is a crime to charge a performer money for the right to audition. The workshops bill themselves as opportunities for performers to read in front of professional casting directors for the purpose of receiving notes and guidance on their auditioning skills. But Feuer expressed the... More
  • Privacy Wars: FTC Reaches $2.2M Settlement with Vizio over Data Collection The TV manufacturer Vizio agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission and the State of New Jersey over its data collection practices. Copyright: scanrail / 123RF Stock Photo The lawsuit alleged that the company’s internet-connected smart TVs were recording exactly what consumers were watching second by second. The sets were able to collect this data for shows from all sources, whether from cable or broadband service providers, set-top boxes, streaming devices, DVD players, or... More
  • Disney Payment Concludes Animators’ Anti-Poaching Lawsuit We reported previously on DreamWorks Animation’s payment of  $50 million to settle a class action antitrust suit. The class represented animators who claimed they were denied employment opportunities due to a “gentlemen’s agreement” among the studios not to poach each other’s employees. The other defendants in addition to DreamWorks–Blue Sky Studios, Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks–had also settled, leaving only Disney and its subsidiaries left in litigation. Pending judicial approval, the Disney parties The Walt Disney Company, Pixar, Lucasfilm... More
  • Wheeler Optimistic on Net Neutrality (Sort of) It’s widely anticipated that the new Republican-controlled administration will seek to roll back the FCC’s net neutrality rules. These rules require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to treat identically all content that travels over their pipes. For example, an ISP cannot throttle the download speed of content furnished by its competitors. In his farewell speech, outgoing FCC Chair Tom Wheeler expressed guarded optimism that net neutrality will survive, though perhaps only after litigation. The Commission’s initial net neutrality rules were struck down... More
  • Wheeler Resignation May Spell Demise of Set-Top Box Deregulation FCC Chair Tom Wheeler has announced his resignation effective upon Donald Trump’s inauguration. The President-elect has not yet announced his choice to replace Wheeler, but it’s a safe bet that the new Republican majority on the Commission will encourage a more freewheeling regulatory climate. This blog has followed closely Wheeler’s efforts to force cable operators to permit competition from third-party set-top box providers. Although the proposal nominally promotes free market competition, the two current Republican FCC commissioners have expressed their opposition... More
  • Top Chef Extortion Case Heats Up In May 2014, filming for Season 12 of the hit Bravo reality series Top Chef began in Boston, Massachusetts.  Members of Teamsters Local 25 demanded union staffing on the show.  The production, however, did not need any additional crew members and rejected the Teamster’s demands.  Several members of Local 25 threatened to picket the production if they were not hired, and they followed through on their word.  As a result, five of those Teamsters have been charged with felony counts... More
  • Why Trump Really Won: The Medium Is the Message Trump’s election was a shocking surprise to many–Democrats and Republicans alike. Explanations for the upset have ranged from the benign to the sinister. What few have focused on is how Trump’s understanding of a transformed media environment enabled an unlikely candidate with no political experience to ride to victory. Copyright: fgnopporn / 123RF Stock Photo In 1964, the media scholar Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “The Medium Is the Message.” McLuhan’s insight was that the qualities of communications media themselves are more... More
  • DreamWorks Animation Settles Animator Poaching Suit DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. has agreed to pay a class of animators $50 Million to settle a class action suit against DreamWorks’ alleged “gentlemen’s agreement” not to poach animators employed by other animation studios or to get into bidding wars with those other studios for animators’ services.  The suit targeted not just DreamWorks, but also Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc., and Sony Pictures Animation, Inc., Blue Sky Studios, Walt Disney Co, Pixar Inc., LucasFilm Ltd and ImageMovers Digital LLC. Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc.,... More
  • Set-Top Box Deregulation: The Gloves Come Off The FCC proposal to deregulate cable and satellite television set-top boxes is facing heavy headwinds as powerful interests line up in opposition. The current proposal is itself a compromise to its original proposal to require providers to give access to their information streams to other set-top box makers. In response to powerful opposition, the proposal was modified to require content to be delivered through apps instead, which the FCC says will give providers end-to-end control over their content. The change... More
  • Wheeler Set-Top Box Proposal: It’s Apps Continuing the process that began earlier this year, FCC Chair Tom Wheeler has issued a proposal to the Commission to implement the deregulation of cable set-top boxes. Wheeler’s proposal will require cable and satellite system operators (MSOs) to offer subscribers access to their services by means of a free app. Consumers could keep their boxes or download the app to an alternative device such as a smart TV, Apple or Roku box, or an XBox or Playstation console. In an LA... More