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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.

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Recent Blog Posts

  • Rihanna Sues Her Father for Using Their Last Name in His Entertainment Company William Shakespeare’s character Juliet famously asked Romeo “What’s in a name?” The question still rings true today, and the answer may be, well, a lot. The Power of a Name The value in Grammy-award winning singer Rihanna’s name, her surname specifically, is at the center of a legal dispute between her and her father. Robyn Rihanna Fenty, known worldwide as Rihanna, sued her father, Ronald Fenty (“Mr. Fenty”) alleging he used their surname, Fenty, to mislead consumers into thinking she was associated with... More
  • O’Brien Roasts Plaintiff in Copyright Dispute Alleging Jokes Too Stale to be Stolen Image from 123RF Limited The drama is building in the comic clash between TBS late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien and comedy writer Alex Kaseberg over jokes Kaseberg claims O’Brien and his writing team stole from him.  As previously reported, O’Brien was able to knock out two of the five jokes in question on summary judgment on the grounds that they were independently created and/or too different for a reasonable juror to conclude they were copied, but three of Kaseberg’s jokes... More
  • TVEyes Closed at Last The TVEyes v. Fox saga has reached its conclusion. Following the Supreme Court’s denial of TVEyes’ petition for certiorari, the video clipping service had little choice but to settle Fox News’s copyright infringement lawsuit. The parties filed a permanent injunction in the Southern District of New York under which TVEyes agreed to eliminate all Fox News content from its database. This injunction is a final settlement and protects TVEyes from having to defend a claim for damages and attorneys’ fees. TVEyes... More
  • U.S. Supreme Court Drops Curtain on Olivia de Havilland’s “Feud” with FX Image from 123RF Limited The California appellate court ruling which dismissed actress Olivia de Havilland’s suit against FX’s Feud will remain in place after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected de Havilland’s petition for review last week. The now 102-year-old actress best known for roles in Gone With the Wind and The Adventures of Robin Hood, de Havilland alleged that FX’s depiction of her in the Emmy-award-winning docudrama Feud infringed her right of publicity and portrayed her in a false light.  Feud aired... More
  • Supreme Court to Decide Whether “Scandalous Clause” Passes Constitutional Muster Just over a year ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that a century-old ban prohibiting the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) from registering “scandalous” and “immoral” trademarks violates the First Amendment. Last week, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether they agree that the so-called “Scandalous Clause” is unconstitutional on its face. The dispute began when the PTO denied trademark registration to Appellant Erik Brunetti’s clothing line – “FUCT.”  Citing Section 2(a) of the Lanham... More
  • Lawsuit Over McGyver Series Illustrates Dizzying Distinction Between “Spin-Off” and “Remake” Readers over 40 will remember the TV series MacGyver, which ran on ABC from 1985 through 1992. The show starred Richard Dean Anderson as a mild-mannered secret agent with an uncanny ability to escape the gravest perils by repurposing ordinary objects around him.  The show was such a hit that “macgyver” entered the lexicon to refer to an ingenious solution to a problem. The original series was packaged by Major Talent Agency (“MTA”), which represented Henry Winkler and John Rich. Winkler and... More
  • Entertainers Bring Copyright Infringement Suits Over Use of Dance Moves in Game “Fortnite” It’ll be hard to dance out of this one. An actor, an influencer, and a rapper have filed lawsuits against Epic Games Inc., the creator and publisher of “Fortnite”, over the use of certain dances in the game, alleging copyright infringement.  Fortnite is a survival shooter, battle royale, “king of the hill”, or, last person standing video game.  The game has become extremely popular, with Epic reporting to media outlets that it now has up to 200 million players.  Players can create their own worlds... More
  • Katie Couric Dodges Bullet in Defamation Suit Brought By Gun Rights Group The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled last week that deceptive editing in Katie Couric’s gun violence documentary did not rise to the level of a defamatory statement to support a defamation action. The suit centers on a twelve-second clip in the documentary, Under the Gun.  The film concerns gun policy in America and takes a perspective favoring regulation.  In a three-minute segment of the film, Couric interviews members of the Virginia Citizens Defense League (“VCDL”), a non-profit... More
  • Decades-Long Fight Over $30 Million Pissarro Painting Stolen By Nazis is on Full Display as Court Wraps Trial Camille Pissarro’s Rue Saint-Honoré, dans l’après-midi. Effet de pluie {Public Domain pre-1923} The oil painting by renowned impressionist Camille Pissarro titled “Rue Saint-Honoré in the Afternoon, Effect of Rain” appears innocent enough.  The work depicts a boulevard in Paris during a dreamy drizzly afternoon in 1897.  But it is what appears behind the canvas that portrays a far darker portrait of human suffering and has set the stage for a titanic legal fight between the Jewish family that originally owned the... More
  • Supremes Shut TVEyes The Supreme Court turned down the petition of TVEyes for reconsideration of the ruling of the Second Circuit that TVEyes infringed Fox News copyrights. TVEyes is a media monitoring service that records virtually all TV news broadcasts in a searchable database. Subscribers can search for content by keyword and download 10-minute clips from the broadcasts. TVEyes raised a fair use defense against Fox News’s copyright infringement action, citing the importance of its service to media analysis and criticism. It stressed... More