Pimpin’ and Playin’… “Empire” Accused of Ripping Off Gangster’s Real Story

On Tuesday, January 19, 2016, a California federal judge was asked to dismiss a lawsuit against Twentieth Century Fox Film Company for stealing the idea of its tremendously popular “Empire” show from a real person. The suit was filed by a man named Ron Newt, who describes himself as a former gangster and pimp, and claims that Fox’s show infringes on his memoir, documentary, and screenplay, all of which detail his life in the music industry. The suit seeks $10 million in damages for copyright…
Continue reading...

NFL and DirecTV’s “Sunday Ticket” Subject of Antitrust Lawsuit

On Friday, October 16, 2015, five plaintiffs brought suit against the NFL, its 32 teams, DirecTV, CBS, NBC, Fox, and ESPN, alleging that current NFL broadcasting agreements violate the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. The plaintiffs allege that DirecTV’s “NFL Sunday Ticket” stifles competition and unfairly raises prices. Currently, the NFL Sunday Ticket — an out-of-market sports package — is the only way for viewers to watch regular season games outside of the limited games available on CBS, NBC, Fox, NFL Network, and ESPN. This, the plaintiffs…
Continue reading...

It Ain’t Easy Being Yellow: ‘Goodfellas’ Actor Loses Likeness Suit Over ‘Simpsons’ Mafioso Character Louie

On Thursday, August 7, the Los Angeles Superior Court ruled in favor of Fox Television Studios, Inc. with regards to a likeness suit brought by “Goodfellas” actor Frank Sivero.  Sivero brought the suit back in October 2014, alleging that the TV show “The Simpsons” infringed his right of publicity with its character Louie. Sivero had claimed that he created his “Goodfellas” character in 1989, during which time he shared an apartment complex with the writers of “The Simpsons.”  He argued that after he told them…
Continue reading...

NCAA Athletes Lose the Big One: Judge Dismisses Publicity Rights Lawsuit Against Broadcasters

On Thursday, June 4, a Tennessee federal judge dismissed a putative class action filed by ten former college athletes who accused major TV broadcasters and others of improperly profiting from the use of their names and likenesses.  U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp granted a motion to dismiss with prejudice, ruling that the plaintiffs failed to prove their case under Tennessee law.  He explained that the Tennessee Personal Rights Protection Act only protects a person’s name and likeness when used in advertisements, and that Tennessee common…
Continue reading...

Rise and Fall of an Empire (Distribution, Inc.)

In the pilot episode of Fox’s smash-hit series Empire, Cookie Lyon, explaining why, after her release from jail, she’s returning to her husband Lucious Lyon’s fictional record label, Empire Entertainment, says simply: “I’m here to get what’s mine.”  This is, of course, in reference to the formerly-jailed matriarch having taken the rap for Lucious to the tune of 17 years behind bars for drug-running while he built his music “empire.” Coincidentally, it also may sum up the thinking over the last couple of months…
Continue reading...

Author Fails in ‘Avatar’ Copyright Suit Against Cameron and Fox

U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real recently granted director James Cameron’s and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.’s motion to dismiss in a copyright action, holding that a disgruntled author and screenwriter was unable to demonstrate that “Avatar” was “substantially similar” to his novel, “Bats and Butterflies.” “Bats and Butterflies” is a story about a bullied boy who travels to a magical land called Altair where he befriends a tribe of aliens that look like butterflies.  At the end of the story, the boy battles against…
Continue reading...