YouTube fails to block Grammy award-winning musician Maria Schneider’s Content ID litigation as district court denies motion to dismiss.

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Entertainment law case updates

Maria Schneider, et al. v. YouTube LLC, et al.
USDC ND Cal August 1, 2022


The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California recently denied defendant YouTube’s motion to dismiss the first amended complaint filed by Grammy award-winning musician Maria Schneider in her copyright infringement class action against the popular video streaming platform.

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Bill & Ted’s Excellent Licensing Agreement: Ninth Circuit holds that damages for undiscovered copyright infringement are not limited to three years.

Film-Television-Case-Law-Update


Entertainment law case updates

Starz Entertainment LLC v. MGM Domestic Television Distribution LLC
USCA Ninth Cir July 14, 2022


In Starz Entertainment, LLC v. MGM Domestic Television Distribution, LLC,11. No. 21-55379 (9th Cir. July 14, 2022). the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of a motion to dismiss copyright infringement claims as barred by the three-year statute of limitations under the Copyright Act.22. 17 U.S.C. § 507(b).

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Orphan works, fair use, and criminal copyright infringement: First Circuit upholds conviction for copying movies from old VHS tapes.

Film-Television-Case-Law-Update


Entertainment law case updates

United States v. Gordon
USCA First Cir June 23, 2022


In United States v. Gordon,11. No. 21-1023 (1st Cir. June 23, 2022). the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld the criminal conviction of “a film buff since childhood” on two counts of criminal copyright infringement. The Copyright Act prohibits any person from “infring[ing] a copyright willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain . . . .”22. 17 U.S.C. § 506(a). The defendant, Douglas Gordon, testified to believing that selling DVDs of movies copied from old VHS tapes was not infringement because nobody appeared to own the rights and argued that the evidence was insufficient to find willfullness. While perhaps mildly sympathetic to the “orphan works” problem in copyright law, the court concluded that the jury could easily have found knowledge that unauthorized duplication of even not widely available movies was illegal.

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Motion capture tech inventor’s intellectual property claims alleging infringement by Disney moving closer to termination?

Film-Television-Case-Law-Update


Entertainment law case updates

Rearden LLC v. Walt Disney Co.
USDC ND Cal June 8, 2022


Several years ago in 2017, Rearden LLC, inventor of the MOVA Contour Reality Capture Program (“MOVA”) software for capturing facial expressions filed suit alleging copyright and trademark infringement by the Walt Disney Company and Twentieth Century Fox arising out of several summer tentpoles. Dismissed in part since then, the case’s remaining intellectual property infringement claims now appear closer to fading to black. The District Court for the Northern District of California recently granted Disney’s motion for partial reconsideration of the court’s denial of summary judgment for the defendants as to three films: Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Deadpool. The court granted summary judgment as to four other features: Terminator: Genisys, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, and Fantastic Four. Disney did not move for reconsideration as to Beauty and the Beast.

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Copyright licenses and your indie film’s production budget: What the Top Gun lawsuit can teach about the bottom line.

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As any line producer knows, the production budget on an independent film can nearly always be higher. Production legal services can sometimes seem more a luxury than a line item—especially when the question of using someone else’s creative work comes up. A chance to discuss this important issue for independent filmmakers has appeared in the form of a new civil action filed against Paramount Pictures alleging copyright infringement based on the studio’s recent release of Top Gun: Maverick, and it’s too good to just let fly by.

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Country songwriter’s complaint alleges copyright infringement against Mariah Carey. “All I Want for Christmas” is sue?

Film-Television-Case-Law-Update


Entertainment law case updates

Stone v. Carey
USDC ED LA June 3, 2022


This DeepFocus Law case update is about music, not film or television, but the case raises a copyright law issue too important not to discuss. A civil action by Andy Stone a.k.a. Vince Vance alleging copyright infringement against the popular singer and her co-writer on their modern holiday radio staple, “All I Want for Christmas is You” was filed on June 3, 2022, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Named defendants include Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Corporation of America. The action seeks $20 million in compensatory damages for alleged violations of copyright based on a 1989 Vince Vance & the Valiants song with the same title.

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Getting to Greenlight Series: What is an option/purchase agreement for a motion picture rights to a book, comic, or other written works?


DeepFocus Law’s Getting to Greenlight series presents entertainment attorney explanations of key business and legal affairs aspects of film and television development. This post turns the lens on the literary option/purchase agreement.


Demand for new source material in Hollywood leads frequently to creative executives approaching authors of written works from literary fiction to existing screenplays to graphic novels. The underlying rights to such works are often the first link in the chain of title of a motion picture or television series. The first step in forging that chain is one of the most important in motion picture and television law–creating a deal for intellectual property rights. A deal for adapting literary material for the screen is most often documented in a literary option/purchase agreement. Here’s an example of a screenplay option/purchase agreement.

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Copyright infringement claim based on use of rap song in Marvel’s Venom dismissed.


Entertainment law case updates

Black And White Entertainment, Inc. v. Marvel Entertainment, LLC
USDC SD NY May 2, 2022


The District Court for the Southern District of New York recently entered an order dismissing claims by Black and White Entertainment, Inc., doing business as Rah Muzic and Rah Records, against Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Sony Pictures Releasing Corporation, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Inc., Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., Marvel Entertainment LLC, and Tencent Pictures (USA) LLC. The claim alleged copyright infringement based on use of the song and recording Super Hyphy a/k/a Super Hyphie in the 2018 motion picture Venom.

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Why copyright registration is the best way to protect your script.

Copyright protection for independent film should begin with its treatments, outlines, and script. It’s in these early documents that the filmmaker’s unprotectable ideas become “fixed in a tangible medium“—the moment that they change from being something anyone might have and something that only the author can claim. You can’t protect a mere idea with copyright, only the expression of the idea.

Ideas about how to protect those expressions, however, are abundant among indie producers, and they are all too often wrong. One persistent notion is the so-called “poor man’s copyright”. It’s the idea that mailing a copy of your completed script to yourself in a sealed envelope and never opening it until needed is irrefutable proof that the work inside belonged exclusively to you as of the date shown by the postmark. Copyright protection forever for the price of a Forever stamp is the thinking. (more…)