Usher ‘Caught Up’ in Copyright Infringement Suit Over Single

Usher has been slapped with a copyright lawsuit in Illinois federal court by three individuals who claim that Usher and his record company stole their material for Usher’s hit single “Caught Up.” Musicians Edwards, Moses, and McClean allege that shortly after they played their song “Caught Up” for Michael Barackman, Senior Director of A&R at Arista Records in October 2002, Usher released his hit album “Confessions,” featuring his hit single “Caught Up.”  According to the musicians, Usher and his record companies used the same melody, hook, lyrics, and chorus of their original copyrighted composition. According to the complaint, both songs tell the same story of a man singing about his shock over a woman’s hold on him.  The choruses of both songs have one line, followed by the phrase, “caught ...
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Bounty-Gate Players’ Suspensions Lifted by Arbitration Panel, For Now

The suspensions of four current and former New Orleans Saints players involved in an alleged pay-for-pain bounty program were lifted by a three-member arbitration panel, allowing the players to return to the game – for now.  The arbitration decision allows the players to return to their teams, but it does not permanently void their suspensions. An NFL investigation revealed that Saints coaches and players ran a bounty program from 2009 – 2011 in which players would receive cash payouts for hits that injured opponents.  In the 2009-2010 playoffs, bounties were placed on quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Brett Favre.  Linebacker Jonathan Vilma, defensive lineman Will Smith, linebacker Scott Fujita, and defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove were all suspended after the conduct was discovered. The panel stated that it remains to be determined ...
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Memorabilia Collector Settles Copyright Infringement Suit by Jackson Estate

On September 4, 2012, the estate of Michael Jackson agreed to settle the late singer’s copyrights and misappropriation of likeness claims against a memorabilia collector for $2.5 million.  The case was set to proceed to trial on September 5, 2012. The settlement comes almost a month after U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson granted the estate’s motion for partial summary judgment, which found Howard Mann and Vintage Pop Media Group LLC liable for copyright infringement (and several other claims). The estate’s suit accused Defendants of taking Jackson merchandise purchased from a Jackson family storage unit during a bankruptcy auction and selling it on the websites JacksonSecretVault.com and Mjduets.com.  The suit alleged that Defendants wrongfully tricked the public into thinking that the estate endorsed the creation and sale of the products.  ...
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Shatner Sued by Former Handyman and Housekeeper

Husband and wife Oscar and Delmy Alfaro are suing William Shatner his wife Elizabeth in California Superior Court for wrongful termination, accusing the pair of firing them after Oscar refused to sign a release for an on-the-job injury he sustained in March 2011. The couple, who had worked full-time at the Shatners’ Studio City, California home for 20 years (Oscar as a handyman, Delmy as a housekeeper), accused Mr. Shatner of approaching Oscar with a release after Oscar fell in the driveway and injured his back.  Since the release would not cover Oscar’s medical bills, he refused to sign it.  The Alfaro’s suit accuses the Shatners of harassing them over the incident, and notes “it is a fundamental and substantial policy of the state ofCaliforniato maintain a workplace free of ...
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Disney Suit Seeks to End the Party for Seller of Unlicensed Character Costumes

Recently, Walt Disney Co., Sanrio, Co., Ltd. and DC Comics filed suit in federal district court against Party Animals LLC (a business offering costumes and party entertainment) alleging that Party Animals infringed on various trademarks and copyrights owned by the Plaintiffs by renting character costumes produced without permission in violation of the Plaintiffs’ intellectual property rights.   Some of the alleged infringing costumes named by the suit include Winnie the Pooh, Batman, Superman, and Hello Kitty. Party Animals’s website plainly states that it has no licenses in the costumes it produces, but nonetheless asserts that it manufactures only look-alikes, not copyright infringing knock-offs. In addition to seeking monetary damages, Plaintiffs are seeking an injunction barring Party Animals LLC from continuing its alleged copyright/trademark infringing behavior. Akamai, Apple, Disney, Dupont: Intellectual Property
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Relationship with Failed Financial Advisor Triggers NFLPA Investigation of Drew Rosenhaus

The NFLPA is looking into whether player agent Drew Rosenhaus should have more closely scrutinized his relationship with financial advisor Jeff Rubin.  The investigation seeks to determine whether Rosenhaus breached his fiduciary duty to the players he represented – a duty owed to the players by all agents certified by the NFLPA – by not closely investigating the practices and credibility of Rubin before trusting him with the players’ monetary investments, many of which failed catastrophically. Among other questionable acts, Rubin has drawn widespread scrutiny for his investments in a failed Alabama bingo casino venture that cost 35 NFL players as much as $43.6 million when the venture went bankrupt earlier this year.  Notably, several legal documents seem to indicate that Rubin had mishandled client money as early as 2003, ...
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NFL Moves to Dismiss Concussion Litigation for Violation of CBA Terms

On August 30, 2012, the NFL and Riddell Inc. filed a motion to dismiss the multi-district concussion litigation against them, arguing that the suit is preempted by the collective bargaining agreements which exist between the league and the players.  The concussion litigation accuses the league of deliberately and fraudulently concealing/ignoring the risk of multiple head concussion incurred during professional football, causing many former players to experience degenerative mental disorders and cognitive decline. According to separate briefs filed by both parties, the Labor Management Relations Act preempts state claims linked to a collective bargaining agreement, making those claims disputable only through arbitration (i.e. through the grievance procedures outlined in the CBAs), not litigation.  Two recent federal court rulings – one in California and another inIllinois– were cited in support of the ...
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California Appellate Court Friendly Venue for Suit Against Kudrow

The Second District Court of Appeal in California has revived a suit against “Friends” star Lisa Kudrow by her ex-manager, Scott Howard, stating that Howard’s expert witness testimony was improperly rejected by the lower courts. Howard brought suit against Kudrow in 2008, alleging that the actress had violated the terms of an oral contract when she declined to pay him a percentage of her earnings. Howard represented Kudrow from 1991 until his termination in 2007 and played a part in getting her the lucrative role of Phoebe Buffay on the NBC sitcom “Friends,” which aired from 1994 to 2004. When Howard first represented Kudrow, the two made an agreement that Kudrow would pay her manager a 10% commission on her income. According to Howard, after Kudrow’s success on “Friends,” where ...
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Weinsteins’ Suit Against ‘Scream’ Writer Williamson is about the Contract, not the Copyrights

On August 23, 2012, California Superior Court Judge Mary Ann Murphy refused to dismiss a suit brought by The Weintstein Co., LLC against ‘Scream’ writer Kevin Williamson.  In essence, the ruling resolved a dispute over whether the action was preempted by the Copyright Act, or was, in fact, a simple contract dispute.  Judge Murphy held that the case could proceed as it is based in contract and The Weinstein Co.had not alleged any copyright infringement or any other acts forbidden by federal law. In its complaint, The Weinstein Co.alleges that Williamson signed over the rights to a film project called “The Shadows” during a settlement agreement the two parties signed back in 2010 to end a production dispute on ‘Scream 4’ (a dispute which resulted in Williamson being relieved from ...
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Armstrong Abandons Fight Against Doping Allegations, Cedes Titles

Late on August 23, renowned cyclist Lance Armstrong announced that he would no longer be continuing his fight against charges brought by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which included allegations that Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs and underwent illegal blood transfusions throughout the course of his career.  As a result of declining to challenge these accusations in arbitration, Armstrong will be stripped of his numerous Tour de France titles, and will be banned most elite-level sporting competitions. Armstrong’s concession comes despite his numerous protests against the USADA’s arbitration process, which he has publicly denounced as an unfairly biased “witch hunt.”  He pointed to the nearly 300 drug tests he took throughout course of his career – all negative – as evidence of his innocence, noting “What is the point of all ...
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