Category Archives: Media and Entertainment

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2 Milly Sues Epic Games Over Fortnite Dance Moves – What In The Wide, Wide World Of Copyright Is Going On Here?

On Wednesday, rapper 2 Milly sued Epic Games, the creators of the wildly popular online game Fortnite Battle Royale, asserting two counts of copyright infringement, two counts of right of publicity, and unfair competition.  2 Milly claims that Epic stole his dance, the “Milly Rock,” by introducing it as part of downloadable content in Fortnite.  … Continue Reading

Let’s Be Clear: The TRO In Jay-Z’s “Roc Nation” Dispute Did Little More Than Delay Things By A Couple Of Weeks

News outlets recently rushed to share the story that lawyers for Jay-Z had successfully halted an arbitration in his “Roc Nation” trademark dispute with Iconix based on findings of racial bias and discrimination.  Headlines included: “Judge Halts Arbitration In Jay-Z Suit Because Of Racial Bias” “Jay-Z wins arbitration delay after arguing panel was ‘too white’” … Continue Reading

Los Angeles Superior Court Quashes Subpoena to CBS under California’s Press Shield Law

Austin Harrouff faces two counts of first degree murder in Florida for the fatal stabbings of John Stevens and Michelle Mishcon on August 15, 2016.  The case was widely publicized after police investigators said that when they apprehended Harrouff, he was on top of Stevens, biting his face. Ever since, Harrouff’s attorneys have been involved … Continue Reading

Did The Ninth Circuit’s “Blurred Lines” Ruling Just Quietly Move To Kill Off The So-Called Inverse Ratio Rule?

This week, on July 11, 2018, the Ninth Circuit issued an order which both denied a petition to rehear its “Blurred Lines” decision en banc, which upheld the 2015 jury verdict that the hit song “Blurred Lines” by Pharrell Williams, Clifford Harris, Jr. (aka “T.I.”), and Robin Thicke infringed the copyright to Marvin Gaye’s “Got … Continue Reading

California’s Revenge Porn Statutes

Several members of the University of Central Florida chapter of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity were recently sued, along with the fraternity itself, by a woman claiming that the fraternity operated a secret Facebook group where members uploaded images and video of private sexual encounters for other fraternity members to see.  The case is Kathryn … Continue Reading

Minnesota Court of Appeals Extends Fair Report Privilege to Stories that Accurately Summarize Police Press Conferences and Press Releases

The Minnesota Court of Appeals recently ruled that the “fair-report privilege” protects the media against defamation claims for news reports that accurately summarize official press conferences held by law enforcement or law enforcement agencies’ official press releases.  The fair report privilege is a broad privilege afforded to the press to publish defamatory statements so long … Continue Reading

Putting It In Writing: The Return of The Morality Clause In The Age of #MeToo and Time’s Up (Part II)

Part I: The Birth of Morals Clauses in Entertainment Services Contracts Part II: Twenty-First Century Morality Clauses in Entertainment Services Contracts Morality clauses, or morals clauses, are making a comeback in the age of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements.  A sample morality clause in an actor talent agreement may read as follows: Artist shall … Continue Reading

Strong Shield Law Protections for Journalists in California and Across the Country

There has been a series of cases in recent months involving attempts by the government to expose journalists’ confidential sources of information.  These cases tend to follow a familiar pattern: the government seeks the identity of a reporter’s source of information and the reporter (or media company) asserts a journalist’s First Amendment protection from being … Continue Reading

Putting It In Writing: The Return Of The Morality Clause In The Age Of #MeToo And Time’s Up (Part I)

Part I: The Birth of Morals Clauses in Entertainment Services Contracts The issues highlighted by the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have refocused the spotlight on morals clauses in talent agreements.  Morals clauses (or morality clauses) are contractual provisions which give entertainment and media employers – e.g. motion picture studios, television networks, producers, news media … Continue Reading

Saved By Punctuation: James Woods Escapes Liability With A Question Mark

A federal judge in the Southern District of Ohio recently dismissed a case against actor James Woods over a tweet he posted during the 2016 presidential campaign.  Woods, the outspoken conservative actor best known for his roles in Casino, Once Upon A Time In America, and Ghosts of Mississippi (for which he received an Oscar … Continue Reading

Religion, Kombucha, and the First Amendment: California Court of Appeal Affirms Dismissal of Defamation Claim Against Web Publisher

The California Court of Appeal issued a recent ruling with interesting ramifications for media, entertainment, and First Amendment practitioners.  The decision by the Second District Court of Appeal, though unpublished, has further shown how California courts will determine media companies’ liability for defamation, specifically in situations where web publishers host articles written by independent contractors. … Continue Reading

The California Court Of Appeal Weighs In: The Development And Production Of An Entertainment Program Is Protected Under The Anti-SLAPP Statute

In a recent 50-page published opinion, the California Court of Appeal determined that offensive and derogatory language on a movie set was protected activity under the anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (or anti-SLAPP) statute because the conduct was part of the behind-the-scenes process for making a movie. The case pitted Marlon Wayans – an actor … Continue Reading

Defamation Law Series: Court Affirms Dismissal Of Claims Against Actor Marlon Wayans

In Daniel v. Wayans, The California Court of Appeal recently affirmed a trial court’s decision to grant actor Marlon Wayans’ anti-SLAPP motion against Pierre Daniel. Daniel worked as an extra on the movie A Haunted House 2, which starred Wayans.  Daniel filed suit against Wayans and others asserting a number of claims, based in part … Continue Reading

Defamation Law Series: Massachusetts District Court Tosses Katherine McKee’s Claims Against Bill Cosby

Last week, on February 16, 2017, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts dismissed Katherine McKee’s claims against Bill Cosby in McKee v. Cosby. McKee was among the women who alleged that Cosby had sexually assaulted her.  In her lawsuit against Cosby, McKee claimed that after she shared her story in an … Continue Reading

Defamation Law Series: Third Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Dismissal of Renita Hill’s Claims Against Bill Cosby

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed the Pennsylvania district court’s dismissal of Renita Hill’s claims against Bill Cosby in Hill v. Cosby. Hill was among the women who alleged that Cosby had drugged and sexually assaulted her.  In her lawsuit against Cosby, Hill claimed that after she shared her story in an interview, … Continue Reading

Gawker Remains in the Crosshairs: Seventh Circuit Finds that Online Media Publisher Can Be Liable for Defamatory Third-Party User Comments for Its Role in Disseminating the Statements

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently kept alive one of the multitude of legal entanglements ensnaring Gawker Media LLC, as the Court reversed and remanded a lower court’s decision to dismiss a plaintiff’s defamation claim involving defamatory third-party user comments.  In its ruling, the Court emphasized that a media company such as Gawker can … Continue Reading

Appellate Court Rejects Defamation Lawsuit Targeting Statements Made In American Hustle

Plaintiff Paul Brodeur, a well-known author, filed suit in California state court against the producers and distributors of the motion picture American Hustle, asserting claims for defamation, slander, and false light.  The case is Paul Brodeur v. Atlas Entertainment, Inc., et al., Case No. B263379. Mr. Brodeur’s claims were based on a single statement made … Continue Reading

Appeals Court Clarifies Idea Submission Claims

A case against the makers of the wildly successful movie Avatar shows how California courts examine and decide fraud in the context of idea submission claims. In the Intellectual Property Magazine article “Appeals Court Clarifies Idea Submission Claims,” Lee Brenner and Andreas Becker examine Eric Ryder v. Lightstorm Entertainment, et al., and analyze Ryder’s fraud, … Continue Reading

Significant Practical Reasons For Entering A Life Rights Agreement May Exist, But It May Not Be Necessary From A Legal Perspective

Real life stories are often produced with the acknowledgment and encouragement of their subjects, who are compensated in exchange for entering into what are known as life rights agreements. However, obtaining permission from every real person involved in the making of the work may not be feasible. In the article “Rights to Life,” published in … Continue Reading

Summary Judgment Upheld In Avatar Creators’ Favor After California Appellate Court Determines That Film Is Not Substantially Similar To Plaintiff’s Sci-Fi Work

James Cameron’s 2009 box-office hit Avatar is the subject of a California idea submission lawsuit that was decided in Cameron’s favor both at the trial and appellate level, in Eric Ryder v. Lightstorm Entertainment, Inc., et al., Case No. B254922.  Plaintiff Eric Ryder claimed that Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment, Inc. fraudulently expressed an interest in … Continue Reading

Blake Shelton Says Magazine Wrong About Rehab & Survives Anti-SLAPP Motion

Last year, country music superstar Blake Shelton filed suit in federal court against the creators and publishers of In Touch Weekly, bringing claims of libel per se and false light invasion of privacy after the magazine published allegedly false statements in its cover story headlines and an accompanying article about Shelton’s purported drinking habit and … Continue Reading

Kelley Drye & Warren LLP Adds Partner Miles Cooley to Los Angeles Office

The Los Angeles office of Kelley Drye & Warren LLP welcomes litigator Miles Cooley as Partner. Mr. Cooley’s practice focuses on the resolution of disputes involving business and entertainment matters, primarily representing entertainment and sports talent, such as famous pop and hip-hop artists, actors, as well as corporate clients and high net-worth individuals. He is … Continue Reading
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