Before The Walt Disney Co. could complete its $4.05 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm in October, its lead attorney, Brian McCarthy, and a team from Skadden Arps faced a daunting task: figuring out whether George Lucas actually owned the rights to Han Solo, Lando Calrissian and about 10,000 characters and elements from the six Star Wars movies and their various offshoots.
Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson insists his studio isn’t searching for new outside sources of money -- even as industry speculation centers on whether Universal will partner with Thomas Tull's Legendary Pictures.
Ten years ago, Nick Denton started Gawker with the idea of capturing the gossip that journalists tell one another privately but won't put into print. Since then, he has been at the center of several legal battles with celebrities looking to protect secrets.
The network of Gawker sites have become celebrated for its scoops, most recently uncovering MantiTe'o's fake girlfriend and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine. Denton also has overseen many high-profile battles with stars including John Travolta, Hulk Hogan and Sarah Palin. His digital empire now attracts tens of millions of readers monthly.
Denton occasionally will admit to having made a judgment error. See what he has to say about a Lena Dunham book proposal below. But overall, Denton is unrepentant and argues an unconventional point of view on privacy that surely will keep the Hollywood legal community busy in the years to come.
We recently spoke to Denton about a decade worth of living on the edge online. Also joining the conversation was Gawker editor John Cook.
Beleaguered movie investors David Bergstein and Ronald Tutor suffered another legal setback as the federal appeals court in the central district of California rejected their plea to reverse an injunction that stops the sale of movies that were part of ThinkFilm and four other now bankrupt companies.
In a ruling that some in the entertainment industry are going to love and others are going to hate, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals revived former Rutgers QB Ryan Hart's lawsuit against Electronic Arts for allegedly violating his publicity rights in the video game "NCAA Football."
Hart played at Rutgers from 2002 to 2005 and objected to EA's video game which let users go into "dynasty mode" and control digital avatars that bore strong resemblance to real-life counterparts.
The case tested the balance between an individual's right to protect their likeness from commercial exploitation and an entertainment studio's right to engage in free speech. In September, 2011, a federal judge granted EA summary judgment victory, finding that EA's free expression outweighed Hart's publicity rights and that the game contained creative elements that were transformative fair use.
The case then went on appeal, and among those supporting EA was the Motion Picture Association of America, which submitted an amicus brief. On the other side, supporting Hart was the Screen Actors Guild. (Other amici included the professional sports leagues, A&E Television, Gawker, ESPN, The New York Times, etc.)
On Tuesday, the Third Circuit judges overturned by a 2-1 margin the lower court's call and remanded the case back to a trial court for further proceedings.
A New York federal judge has declined to dismiss a proposed class action lawsuit against, as he puts it, "the whole of the digital music industry."
Norman Blagman is the named plaintiff and seeks to hold liable for copyright infringement several powerhouse companies including Apple, Amazon.com and Google. The defendants in the lawsuit sought to have the lawsuit dismissed for failure to state a plausible claim, but U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter says not so fast.
On Monday, Eight Mile Style, LLC, the company that administers the rights to Eminem's music, filed a lawsuit against Facebook.
The complaint filed in Michigan federal court not only accuses the popular social network of lifting one of Eminem's songs for the April launch of a new application called "Facebook Home," but tells the story of how Facebook's advertising company attempted to use Eminem to attract the liking of Mark Zuckerberg, and how, when threatened with copyright allegations, the ad agency's response was to attack hip-hop producer (and sometime Eminem collaborator) Dr. Dre for being a flagrant thief who had stolen the song in question from Michael Jackson.
At a status hearing on Monday, attorneys for Warner Bros. and Smallville co-creators/writers Miles Millar and Alfred Gough announced they had resolved a dispute.
Although the paperwork hasn't been fully signed by all the parties, an agreement in principle has been reached to end the lawsuit that contended that Warners had robbed the show's profit participants with sweetheart license-fee deals that the studio made with its sister TV networks.
In last summer's blockbuster film, The Dark Knight Rises, Anne Hathaway plays Selina Kyle, who attempts to get her hands on a software program that will erase her criminal history from every computer database in the world. At one moment of the film, this character (who would later become Catwoman) tells Batman, "Wayne says you can get me the clean slate.”
In the film, the product is referred to as "clean slate" several times, and rather fascinatingly, Warner Bros. got sued over this by a company that actually markets and sells a computer security program called "Clean Slate."
As Indiana federal judge Philip Simon puts the key question in setting up his ruling, "Is it trademark infringement if a fictional company or product in a movie or television drama bears the same name or brand as a real company or product?”
Last year, in a lawsuit lodged against Vince McMahon's World Wresting Entertainment, a man by the name of Papa Berg called himself the "pioneer" of wrestler entrance music and alleged that the WWE had misappropriated his songs, caused royalties to be misdirected and interfered with a video game deal.
In reaction, the WWE attempted to stop Berg from getting into the legal ring in a Texas federal court by disputing the jurisdiction, by saying Berg's lawsuit came too late and by objecting that Berg hadn't been specific enough to support his claims.
On Wednesday, a Texas judge trimmed Berg's lawsuit but allowed the composer to advance forward in his attempts to pin the WWE for alleged copyright infringement.