‘Hits of the 80s’ Producer Facing Class Action for Breaking ‘Promises, Promises’ to Consumers

On March 20, 2014, Tutm Entertainment, a media company known for producing music albums such as ‘Hits of the 80s’ and ‘Hits of the 90s,’ was hit with a class action suit in New Jersey federal court.  The suit, headed by lead plaintiff Celeste Farrell, is seeking over $5 million in damages for advertising practices Farrell claims constitute consumer fraud. In particular, Farrel’s filing accused Tutm of releasing albums that appeared to contain the original versions of classic hits such as “Cult of Personality” by…
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Simpson’s Voice Man, Hank Azaria, Wins Copyright Dispute over ‘Funny or Die Video’

Hank Azaria, an actor who provides the voices for several characters on the long-running hit TV show The Simpsons, recently won a California federal court dispute over the copyright to Jim Brockmire, a fictional baseball announcer.  The fictional character originally premiered in the 2010 “Funny or Die” film entitled “Jim Brockmire, a Legend in the Booth,” a story about a make believe baseball announcer that loses his cool after discovering that his wife had been cheating on him. Azaria filed the lawsuit in November…
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Judge Nixes Jury Verdict in EA Sports ‘Madden’ Infringement Case

On January 22, 2014, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer overturned a multi-million dollar jury award against EA sports in a copyright infringement case.  The underlying action was originally brought against the video game giant by Robin Antonick, a programmer who was initially given credit and royalties for creating the first edition of ‘Madden Football’ in 1988.  Antonick alleged that subsequent versions of the game were created using his own source code, violating copyright infringement laws and entitling him to compensation.  A federal jury agreed with…
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The Supreme Court Takes Its Gloves Off For “Raging Bull”

On Tuesday, January 21, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a copyright dispute concerning the iconic 1981 boxing movie “Raging Bull.” The Supreme Court was asked to decide whether an heir to the early screenplay for what became the movie “Raging Bull,” can claim copyright infringement against MGM Holdings Inc. (MGM), and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment (20th Century Fox). Paula Petrella’s father Frank Petrella wrote Jake LaMotta’s autobiography and contributed to the first draft of the “Raging Bull” screenplay in 1963. Petrella…
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Palin Claims “Fair Use” on 9/11 Photo

Former Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin continues to make headlines. In September 2013, North Jersey Media Group (NJMG) filed a federal lawsuit against Palin and her political action committee (SarahPAC) for copyright infringement. The suit alleges that Palin posted NJMG’s iconic “WTC Flag Raising Photograph” on Palin’s Facebook page without permission. The photograph, taken by a staff photographer for NJMG, depicts three firefighters raising an American flag over the rubble of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Screen shots from Palin’s Facebook…
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Warner Bros. Wins Final Fight for Superman

On November 21, 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that Warner Brothers is the sole owner of Superman’s copyright.  The ruling should be the final legal battle in the lengthy ownership dispute with the estates of Superman’s co-creators.  The court described the case as “another chapter in the long-running saga regarding the ownership of copyrights in Superman – a story almost as old as the Man of Steel himself.” Superman made his debut in 1938 as a character in Action Comics #1.  The…
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Photographers Want to Capture Their Rights

Seven professional photographers sued the NFL, Getty Images (Getty), and the Associated Press (AP) for violating the photographers’ copyrights. The freelance photographers (plaintiffs) filed the lawsuit in New York federal court on October 21, 2013. The lawsuit claims that the three defendants are liable for copyright infringement, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. The plaintiffs allege that the NFL failed to receive consent to use plaintiffs’ photos in connection with NFL advertisements, news, promotions, and products. Freelance photographers regularly license their photos through…
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SiriusXM: “It Ain’t Me Babe”

Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, the principal songwriters and vocalists of 60’s pop group The Turtles, filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in the Southern District of New York, against SiriusXM Radio, Inc., the satellite radio giant, captioned Flo & Eddie Inc., et al. v. SiriusXM Radio, Inc.; and Does 1 through 10, No. 13 CIV 5784, in mid-August. Perhaps signaling the urgency and seriousness of the situation, this past week attorneys from the New York-based law firms Weil, Gotschal and Manges LLP…
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Run DMC(A): No Safe Harbor for Vimeo against EMI?

It started with a simple equation: “Vimeo is video + you.” Yet this formula and model for the new “user-generated content”-fueled Internet has morphed into a case that could very well test the limits of the protection afforded to “service providers” under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This past week, a federal judge found that a particular “safe harbor provision” of the DMCA, which has been invoked successfully by user-generated content providers like YouTube and Veoh in their respective quests to protect and insulate…
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Godzilla vs. Mechahopzilla

Beer Advocate, the Godzilla of beer reviewers, gave Mechahopzilla, the newest IPA entry from the New Orleans Lager & Ale Brewing Company (NOLA) a score of 89 percent and an overall rating of “very good.” But there was at least one company that was not overjoyed with the summer success of a beer known as Mechahopzilla and, as a result, NOLA appears to have gotten itself in some hop-filled, boiling water. This week, the popular brewer was dragged into federal court, in the Eastern…
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