Stuffed: Photographer’s Claim Against Nike Dismissed

Oregon District Judge Michael W. Mosman issued a ruling on Tuesday dismissing a lawsuit alleging that Nike Inc.’s “Jumpman” logo was an improper reproduction of a picture taken of Michael Jordan by the plaintiff photographer in 1984. The judge wrote: “[a]lthough at first glance there are certainly similarities between the two expressions of the pose, a closer examination reveals several material differences … In the context of thin or very close to thin copyright protection, these differences lead me to find that the…
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Mixing Up Trouble: Sir Mix-A-Lot Argues Tardiness on DJ’s Copyright Claim

On Tuesday, June 2, Sir Mix-A-Lot spoke out against a lawsuit over copyright authorship brought by his former partner, declaring that the suit comes roughly two decades too late.  David Ford, Mix-A-Lot’s former partner and DJ, filed suit in March in Washington federal court, claiming that he had no idea until recently that Mix-A-Lot had filed copyright registration for several songs as the sole author.  Mix-A-Lot is moving to dismiss the suit, arguing that it is impossible that twenty years went by before Ford realized…
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Flag on the Play: NFL, AP Urge Court to Close Book on Photographers’ Antitrust Suit

On Friday, May 29, the National Football League and the Associated Press told a New York federal court that the seven photographers bringing a copyright and antitrust suit had lost their right to file a revised complaint.  In March, U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet dismissed the photographers’ claims, but gave them twenty days to file a new complaint.  The parties then agreed to a three-week extension for the amended pleadings to be filed, but the photographers failed to meet the May 11 deadline. Rather…
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Jay-Z Sanctioned as “Big Pimpin’” Copyright Trial Date Approaches

On Thursday, May 28, a federal judge in California sanctioned Jay-Z for his failure to properly comply with a discovery request in the current litigation regarding Jay Z’s sampling of the Egyptian song “Khosara, Khosara” for use in his hit single “Big Pimpin’.” Jay Z was ordered to pay plaintiff Osama Ahmed Fahmy $3,000 for the expenses and attorneys’ fees Fahmy incurred while compelling the production of an unredacted agreement between Jay Z and concert-promotion company Live Nation. Fahmy had originally requested $15,000 in attorneys’…
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Disney Fails on Attempt to Dismiss “Frozen” Teaser-Trailer Lawsuit

Federal Judge Vince Chhabria for the Northern District of California denied Disney’s attempt to dismiss a copyright lawsuit brought against it alleging ideas used in a teaser trailer for the hit film “Frozen” was stolen. The lawsuit, brought by animator Kelly Wilson in March of 2014, claims the trailer was ripped off from her 2-D short film “The Snowman.”  Arguing the trailer has many similarities to the short film, Wilson must also prove that Disney was aware of it and had seen it.  Disney brought…
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Lionsgate and Joss Whedon Face $10M Copyright Suit Over “The Cabin in the Woods”

Peter Gallagher, not the actor but an author of a 2006 novel, has filed a lawsuit against Lionsgate and Joss Whedon who produced and co-wrote the 2012 horror movie “The Cabin in the Woods” with Drew Goddard who was also named in the suit. Gallagher in the complaint alleges that Whedon and Goddard stole the idea, plots, characters, and more from his novel “The Little White Trip: A Night in the Pines” without his consent in.  According to Gallagher, he registered the book with the…
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MGM “Knocks Out” Raging Bull Lawsuit with Settlement

Last year, we reported that the U.S. Supreme Court revived a longstanding copyright infringement lawsuit over the 1980 hit movie “Raging Bull.”  The suit was initially brought in 2009 when Paula Petrella, the daughter of Frank Petrella, alleged that MGM and 20th Century Fox (“MGM”) infringed on her father’s copyrights in a number of works written about the life of boxer Jake LaMotta. Paula first became aware of her right to sue in the early 90’s based on a Supreme Court case related to…
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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…
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Court to Determine Who Owns “Happy Birthday to You”

A California federal judge is to decide whether Warner/Chappell owns the 120-year-old “Happy Birthday to You” as Warner/Chappell and Good Morning to You Productions (“GMTY”) came to an agreement to do so on March 23.  The copyright suit was brought against Warner/Chappell in 2013 by GMTY, alleging Warner/Chappell “extracted millions of dollars in unlawful licensing fees” for the song despite the controversy over the origins and ownership of the song. Arguing that the song has been in the public domain for 65 years, GMTY President…
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